The Early Years
By the end of 1879 barely a year after it started, the number of students on the roll had risen to 35 with 5 mission students. On the 23rd of December of that year, the first prize-giving ceremony was held. His Excellency, Governor Moloney distributed the prizes. There were 16 prizes in all to be shared by 35 lucky students, and George Smith (Obasa) headed the list of prize-winners, thus demonstrating his ability right from the outset.
By 1896 the number of students had risen to 70 and the staff to 8 and with the opening of the Wesley College, Ibadan in 1905, the training of mission agents ceased to be undertaken by the school.
Although the school grew steadily in population and stature within the first thirty years, there were teething problems which were not fully surmounted until the post World War I period when the Colonial administration began to take more seriously its responsibility for education by increasing substantially grants-in-aid to schools.
One of the problems facing the school was how. to obtain qualified teachers. Apart from shortage of well-trained teachers, there was the fact that teachers were not well paid much more so by the missions. In addition, their conditions of service left a great deal to be desired. There was no specific scale of salaries and teachers applied for increment whenever they felt they deserved more pay, and this could be granted or refused. The result was that it was difficult to retain their services for a long time, except for the few dedicated ones. To make matters worse, they were not paid regularly because of lack of fund by the school. For example, it was reported in October 1895 that the school staff had not been paid for the past two months. The school sometime had to resort to monitorial system to fill gaps. Some of the senior boys were appointed monitors or pupil teachers and were given inducements such as reduction in their school fees. For instance, in 1903, there were 68 names on the roll and the teaching staff was made up of only the Principal and two teachers. Obviously, the three of them could not manage the students effectively. Consequently, Theo Solanke and Allworthy Craig, senior students, were appointed pupil teachers at the rate of 30/- each per month. This amount was to include boarding, books and pocket allowance.
A major problem and one that continued to plague the school until the first decade of this century was that of inadequate finance. The schools depended on the school fees, grants-in-aid from the Missionary Committee and from the government in order to meet its commitments. The grants-in-aid were most inadequate. In fact, it was not until 1892 that the school received its first grants-in-aid of £71.9.0d. Though the grants increased with the passage of time, nevertheless, they were still not adequate. As late as 1922, the Annual Report on Departments of Education (Northern and Southern Provinces), stated that the problems facing education was basically lack of funds; that the mission schools were qualified in every way to be put on the assisted list, but they had to be refused because the required funds was not available.
It continued: "In most cases the missionary societies have incurred considerable expense in bringing the schools up to the standard and are naturally very disappointed when their applications are refused on financial grounds.2 The grant from the mission did not go far either. Consequently, the school had to rely on school fees to meet its financial requirements. But this did not help much. The trouble was not that school fees being charged were not adequate but that the fees were not regularly paid. For example, in March 1890 the balance of fees outstanding was £27.5.1d.
By June it was £28.11.3d. In September the picture was much better. The outstanding fees for the month being £17.13.5d. But in December of that year, outstanding fees amounted to £64.19.2d. In the meantime all monies in hand had been spent on the boarders without corresponding return. The situation was so bad that in December of that year, it was decided that tuition fees must be paid at the beginning of or at the end of each quarter, and any student who did not pay within 14 days of the quarter shall be sent out of school; that all outstanding fees must be paid before the close of the year and that the school would resort to law to collect from those still owing the school by the time the school re-opened in 1891.