Below is an exert from a letter written by C.E Onukaogu, a professor of English at the University of Ile-Ife-Ile in Nigeria on February 24th, 2002.

Read the exerpt then work through the review questions.


"Before 1966, it was common for the Nigerian primary and secondary school children to own books. Extensive and intensive reading was promoted at the school, community, regional and national levels through festivals of art and culture. Libraries were common in primary and secondary schools. State governments had mobile libraries that made books available in rural areas all over the country. Opportunity to self-develop through home education and correspondence schools were common. Rapid Results College, School of Careers and Wolsley Hall were some correspondence schools that capitalized on the desire by our people to profit from long distance education. Long distance, education thrived then because books were available everywhere..."

"I am, for instance, a living testimony of what books and reading empowerment can do. My parents were only able to give me basic secondary school education. During my secondary school days, I was taught Literature and English Language by an American Peace Corps volunteer from Massachusetts - one Mr. B.A Cornel. He taught me how to read and encouraged my colleagues and me to read extensively. Thus after my secondary school education, I was able to self-teach myself at home and accordingly I took the University of London General Certificate of Education (A Level) examination at home. I passed at a sitting, all the three papers I enrolled for in that examination. If I had gone to a regular high school, I would have spent two years to obtain that certificate. However, because of the reading empowerment I acquired in my secondary school days through the help of Mr. B.A Cornel, I stayed at home and through self-tutoring, was able in less than 9 months to prepare for and pass that examination."

"Today, the privileges the Nigerian child enjoyed in the 60's regarding book ownership are nowhere to be found. When the Nigerian Military took over governance in 1966, it ...destroyed our educational system...With the destruction of the book culture, the critical thinking ability of the Nigerian child was crippled... Today, the Military is no more in authority. We have regained our freedom... One way to maintain our freedom is to revive and revitalize the reading/book culture in our country. That is why the Reading Association of Nigeria, which I head, is excited about your [Global Literacy Project] promise and willingness to ship books to Nigeria..."


1.      What is the main reason that Professor Onukaogu gives for long distance education thriving in Nigeria before 1966?

2.     Who was an important reason for Professor Onukaogu succeeding in his “A-Level” exams?

3.     Using the other documents on this web site, explain what happened to Nigeria in 1966 to cause the Military takeover.

4.     Take a look at the chronology of Nigerian history provided on this website. When did Nigeria regain civilian rule? Who is the current president?

5.     What does Professor Onukaogu think Nigerians must do to ensure that they maintain their freedom?


© 2002, Denniston Bonadie