Alvan Ikoku

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Alvan Ikoku (August 1, 1900–November 18, 1971) was a Nigerian educator, statesman, activist and politician. Born on August 1, 1900 in Arochukwu, present-day Abia State, he was educated at Government School and Hope Waddell College, Calabar. In 1920, he received his first teaching appointment with the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria and Church of Scotland at Itigidi and two years later became a senior tutor at St. Paul's Teachers' Training College, Awka, Anambra State. While teaching at Awka, Ikoku earned his University of London degree in Philosophy in 1928, through its external programme.

Soon after, in 1931, Ikoku established one of the earliest private secondary schools in Nigeria: the Aggrey Memorial College, located in Arochukwu and named after James E.K. Aggrey, an eminent Ghanaian educationist. In 1946, after several constitutional changes allowing more Nigerians in the legislative chambers, he was nominated to the Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly and assigned to the ministry of education. In 1947 he became part of the Legislative Council in Lagos as one of three representatives of the Eastern Region.

Ikoku fostered considerable government interest in the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), becoming instrumental in the Legislative Council's acceptance of 44 NUT proposals amending various educational ordinances. He did encounter resistance through much of the 1950s, when the Colonial Government repeatedly rejected his NUT recommendations to introduce uniform education in Nigeria. After national independence, Ikoku and his union were vindicated, when these recommendations became the basis for education policy in the new nation.

Upon retiring from government politics, Ikoku served on various educational bodies in the country. He was a member of the West African Educational Council (WAEC) and the Council of the University of Ibadan as well as Chairman, Board of Governors of the Aviation Training Centre. Honours for his contribution to education in Nigeria include an honorary Doctorate in Law (1965) at a special convocation of the University of Ibadan, the establishment of the Alvan Ikoku College of Education, and his commemoration on a bill of Nigerian currency, the Ten Naira note. He died on November 18, 1971.

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