History Of Physical And Health Education In Nigeria

History Of Physical And Health Education In Nigeria

History Of Physical And Health Education In Nigeria

A review of the research activities of Nigerian physical and health educators showed that serious research work did not start in physical and health education in Nigeria until the late sixties and early seventies. Most of the early research works in these fields were mainly on the history and administration of sports and physical education in Nigeria. Recently, physical and health educators in Nigeria have shifted to more scientific aspect of sports performance, physical fitness and healthful living.


The period between 1842 and 1882 in Nigeria witnessed the introduction of western literary education by missionaries. Christian missionaries came from different churches and established educational institutions; however there was no uniform curriculum of studies and physical training had no place in the school curriculum (Ladani, 1988). Thereafter, Nigeria came into existence as a nation in 1914 through the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates and became fully independent in October 1960 as a federation with three regions (Northern, Western, and Eastern) under a constitution that provided for a parliamentary system of governance. Presently, Nigeria has a population of 162 million people (Population Reference Bureau, 2012) and is made up of 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja with 774 constitutionally recognized Local Government Areas (LGAs) (National Population Commission, 2009).

The arrival of missionaries and colonial administrators from Britain and America brought with it some sports and games to schools and to the police and army. However, their development was largely limited to the police and military in order to improve the physical fitness of policemen and soldiers whose responsibility is to maintain law and order. The first physical education (PE) syllabus was introduced into Nigerian schools in 1918 through the adoption of a uniform curriculum for schools. This syllabus was revised in 1927 with minor modifications and finally in 1933; the last colonial syllabus of Physical Training for Schools was introduced into the country. The 1933 syllabus was concerned with the value of physical education in relation to the health of the people as a whole. In 1956, the first indigenous PE syllabus for primary schools was published by the then Western Regional Ministry of Education. PE was made compulsory by the Federal Government in all primary schools in Nigeria and most schools used the period on the time-table to teach pupils skills in individual, dual and team sports (Otinwa, 2012). Around 1954, the 1933 syllabus was abolished. It was replaced in 1955 by the Ministry of Education. Since then, PE syllabus has gone through reviews with the aim of improving quality delivery.

Register Your Business or Company Name With CAC

The greatest pace in the development of PE and teacher preparation was set when the first university was established in 1960, that is  University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria. This was the first university in Africa that commenced undergraduate programme in HPE (Ladani, 1988; Ajala, Amusa and  Sohi, 1990). The starting point for quality delivery of educational programmes with focus on HPE is the formulation of National Policy on Education (NPE) which was first published in 1977. This was the time in the history of Nigerian Educational system that Physical education was endorsed as an instructional subject in schools. Furthermore, it has been approved for inclusion in the school certificate curriculum. Since then, the second and third editions were published in 1981 and 1998 respectively in keeping with the dynamics of social change. The fourth edition was necessitated by some policy innovations and was published in 2004. (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004). With this provision in the policy, PE has a foundation upon which a solid academic programme was developed.

However, there is a gap in the implementation of quality physical education and sports in public schools. In order to make up for this gap, parents who can afford to pay high school fees enrolled their children in private schools where instruction at all levels has  been  oriented towards inculcating among other values physical, emotional, psychological and intellectual development of the child and the acquisition of competencies necessary for self- reliance as provided in the NPE.

Pioneers of physical education in Nigeria

The history of physical education in Nigeria began from the late sixties. Before that time there was no serious research about such education. In this article, we will learn about the top 5 pioneers of this sphere of education.

Who are the pioneers of physical education in Africa?

The early researches of this subject were in the field of sports history. But in present time such research work include sports performance, healthy living, and physical fitness.

1. We can say that the first pioneers of physical education were the missionaries. They established educational institutions which included physical education. The arrival of missionaries brought some sports games to the country. The first sports program was introduced in local schools was in 1918.

2. In 1956, the Federal Government introduced the first indigenous sports program for schools. The Ministry of Education has made many reviews to this program since then.

3. The University of Nigeria, in 1960, developed a new level of physical education. The university education was actively accompanied by physical education of a new model and level.

4. The emergence of private schools increased the number of options for physical education. These schools provided their own training programs with different levels.

5. General Globalization: This phenomenon also made great contributions to the development of physical education in Nigeria. Today you can find a large number of sports tips and exercises for health online.

Who is the father of physical education in Nigeria?

James Harding Ekperigin is recognized as the Nigerian founder of physical education. His studies in the subject made him known as a great scientist. James was born in Ugbori, Warri.

James Harding had great sport experience. After returning to Nigeria, he was appointed as an education officer. Ekperigin played an important role in establishing physical and health education in Nigeria. He is one of the pioneers of physical health education in the country.


Adedeji, J. A. (1985). The teaching of physical and health education. Ibadan, Nigeria: West Books Publisher Limited.

Ajala, J. A., Amusa, L. O. & Sohi, A. S. (1999). Physical Education. Nigeria: Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Limited.Association of International Schools in Africa

Fessler , N, Knoll M. & G. Stibble, k, (2010). Development and transition in physical education an overview of German speaking publication 2008-2009.International Journal of Physical Education a Review Publication Volume XLVII, Issue 3, 3rd Quarter 2010 page 2

Hardman, K, (2011). Recent international initiatives and developments in Physical Education and related areas of youth sport, physical activity, health and fitness. International Journal of Physical Education. A review of publication.Vol. XLVIII(3) 3 , pp15-30.

Iganugo, V.C & Otinwa, G.O. (2009, March). Raising the standard and quality of teaching, research and community service through health, physical education, recreation,sports and dance in Africa. Paper presented during the 2009 International Council for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sports and Dance Forum, held at Convention Centre, Tampa, Florida, USA.

Ladani, B.A.(1988). Developmental trend in the preparation of physical education specialists in Nigeria. Journal of Physical Education Health Education and Recreation. Vol. 1(1).121- 132.

Musa, D I. & Williams, C. A. (2012). Cardio respiratory fitness, fatness, and bloodpressure associations in Nigerian youth. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 1974-1985.

National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (2001). Physical education is critical to a complete education [Position statement]. Reston, VA: Author.

Onifade, A. (2001). History of physical education in Nigeria. Nigeria: Ziklag Educational Publishers.

Otinwa, G. O. (2012). African perspectives on physical education and sports. The Global Journal of Health and Physical Education Pedagogy. Vol. 1(1) 42 – 49.

Source 1:

Source 2:

Categories: Education, Others

Tagged as: History, Publication

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.