Historical Background of the College

The Federal College of Education, Zaria, formerly known as the Advance Teachers’ College,(A.T.C) Zaria, is located in Zaria. The town lies between Latitude 11.07 and 12 degrees North and Longitude 07.44 and 8 degrees east. Located at a distance of about 962km from the Atlantic Ocean, it is about 80 kilometers North of Kaduna, the Capital of Kaduna State.

In April 1959, the Federal Ministry of Education, realizing the cardinal importance of educational development to a nation newly attaining political independence, appointed a Commission under the chairmanship of Sir Eric Ashby, Master of Clare College, Cambridge, to investigate the needs of Nigeria in Post-School Certificate and Higher Education. On the basis of the report of this Commission, which was significantly entitled “Investment in Education”, the Government of Nigeria in 1961 presented to the parliament a white paper on educational development up to 1970.

The white paper foresaw a possible increase in the enrolment of exiting secondary schools and the building of 600 new ones, with an annual intake of pupils rising from 12, 000 to 45, 000. in order to meet this rapid expansion, four new Advanced Teachers’ Training Colleges were recommended: One in Lagos and one in each regions; Zaria, Oweri, and Ondo. For the Colleges to take off, four requests for assistance were made to the then United Nations Special Fund which later became the United Nations Development Programme,(U.N.D.P) Special Fund component.

Therefore, acting on the recommendation of the Ashby Commission, the Government of the former Northern Region established a Northern Secondary Teachers’ College in Zaria. The Northern Regional Government through the Federal Government, requested the United Nation Special Fund for assistance. The request was granted and a plan of operation was drawn up, which was formally signed in March 1963 by the Federal Government of Nigeria, the United Nations special Fund and UNESCO.

Authorization to start operations was given in May 1963, but the College was formally opened on 1st November, 1962 with an initial intake of 150 students. The project was originally envisaged for a five year duration. Subsequent revisions to the original plan of operation extended this for about three years. The name of the College was later changed to Zaria Teachers’ College.

Objectives of the College

Briefly, the aims and objectives for establishing the College, at the take off, can be summarized as follows:

To provide professionally qualified non-graduate teachers of Northern origin to man the Secondary and Teacher Training Colleges in the region.

To provide professionally qualified Assistance Inspectors for primary schools. Through the products or graduates of the College, to be able to gradually Northernise the entire staff of all the Secondary Schools and Teacher Training Colleges in the region.

The College was temporarily situated in the present site of the Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic (Annex Campus) along Gaskiya Road, Zaria, opposite the Institute of Education, ABU Annex. Within a short time, the building became inadequate for the needs of an Advanced Teachers’ College. In January 1973, the College finally moved to its present site by old Jos Road, opposite the Institute of Administration (Kongo Campus), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

The administrative fortunes of the College have somehow been bound up with the political vicissitudes of the Federation. With the creation of more states in the Federation, the College became the property of the former six Northern States. The duty of administering the College, in the interest of all the six. Northern States, first fell on the Interim Common Services Agency (ICSA), which in 1970 specifically requested the Institute of Education, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, to take over the administrative control of the College for the following reasons:

  1. To minimize administrative inconveniences.
  2. To cut down and also streamline the cost of managing the policy making body.
  3. To encourage staff and student participation in the formation of policies affecting the College.

With the Institute of Education’s take-over the admission of students was virtually on a quota basis; which ensured there was almost equal representation from each of the Northern States. Each State was fully responsible for the sponsoring of its own candidates.

After the take-over on 1st January 1970 the Institute of Education was responsible for the following:

  1. Development of curriculum and standardization of syllabi
  2. Examination and certification of NCE candidates.
  3. Admission qualifications policies and selection of students.
  4. Liaison with State Ministries of Education and
  5. Recruitment of teaching and administrative staff.

The National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) became the funding and policy agency of the College as from 1st January, 1990. The Commission was established by the Federal Government through Degree 3 in an official gazette published on 17th January, 1989.

A decree promulgated by the Federal Government changed the name of the College from Advanced Teachers’ College,(A.T.C.) Zaria, to Federal College of Education,(F.C.E.) Zaria, along with other Colleges, of Education in Kano and Ondo. (see Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 16 of 14th May, 1991 Vol. 78 Decree No. 12 Federal College of Education (Amendment Decree 1991). The first Governing Councils of the three Colleges were inaugurated in Lagos on Friday, 29th May, 1992. Federal College of Education, Zaria, had a total of 15 members on its first Council.

Major Achievements of the College

Right from inception, Federal College of Education, Zaria has recorded various achievements, which have helped to raise it to its present enviable standard of credibility, fame and prestige. The most significant achievements of the College relate to physical facilities, staffing, student population, research and teaching, and manpower development.

Physical Facilities

In terms of physical facilities, the College has adequate lecture halls, functional laboratories/workshops and adequate staff offices for each of the six schools: Arts & Social Sciences, Education, Languages, Science, Vocational & Technical Education and Undergraduate Studies. In addition to these, there are two large Lecture Theatres, each with a capacity of accommodation three hundred (300) students. Also worthy of note is the fact that the College has a beautiful and spacious library building, which is well equipped with relevant books, journals and other study materials, including an internet facility. With the excellent facilities available, the library provides efficient services to the staff and students of the College who constitute the bulk of its readership.

It must also be noted that the College has the largest functional Computer Department among all the Colleges of Education in the country.


One factor that has earned the College tremendous respect among its peers is its large crop of highly trained, experienced and professionally competent staff in all the academic and administrative departments. For instance, of the two hundred and seventy-two (272) Academic staff in the College, not fewer than one hundred and sixteen (116) have a masters degree or its equivalent, while twenty-five (25) have PhD degree. Several other staff are in the process of acquiring higher degrees in their fields of specialization. All this is indicative of the superior quality of research and teaching which the College provides.

Student Population

The student population of the College has been on the increase over the years. This is a definite response to the increasing yearnings for admission occasioned by the growing popularity and prestige of the College.

The total student population as at 2006 matriculation was about six thousand, eight hundred and sixty-five (6,865). This, indeed, is a significant number, but accords with the excellent facilities available in the institution.

Research and Teaching

The College has also maintained a leadership role in the area of scholarly research and publication as evidenced by the large number of contributions by many of the lecturers to various reputable academic journals within and outside the country. The College also produces the Zaria Journal of Educational Studies (ZAJES) and has actively encouraged the writing and publication of textbooks by many individual staff.

Manpower Development

In terms of manpower development for the country, the College has done remarkably well. There is hardly any parastatal in the country where a product of Federal of Education, Zaria cannot be found. The College is proud to have produced such eminent personalities like Professor P.N Lassa, former Executive Secretary of the NCCE and Professor Abdullahi Mahdi, former Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University and Vice-Chancellor of Gombe State University. Others include Dr M.M. Bunza, former Executive Director, National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), and the former provost of the College;

Late Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed Shika (Wakilin Makarantan Zazzau).The College has produced more than forty thousand (40,000) NCE and about twelve thousand (12,000) degree holders.