Holy Child College, South West, Ikoyi, Lagos, was started by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus on the 9th of April 1945 at the invitation of the late Archbishop Leo Taylor who wanted a good secondary education for girls in his Archdiocese. The Society of the Holy Child Jesus, founded by Rev. Mother Cornelia in 1846 in England, was then well known all over the world for its educational programme for girls. The programme was based on trust and reverence for the dignity of each other. Three Sisters (two English and one American) had arrived in Calabar, Nigeria in 1930 bringing with them not only a missionary spirit but Cornelia Connelly’s educational philosophy of reverence for each individual. The college took off with thirty students and four nuns dedicated to “Simplicity, Humility and Charity”. There were only two classes with fifteen students in each class. By the time the first set completed the six-year programme, the students had increased in number from 30 in 1945 to 200 in 1950. Today there are over 700 students and over 60 teachers.
The college which started very modestly has played and continues to play a historical role in the formation of women in Nigeria. It has produced and is still producing prominent women in the country amongst whom were the first female Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service, first female bank manager, a Federal minister, ace broadcasters and actresses, national sports women, judges, educationists, bank CEOs etc. and many more are in the forefront of economic, social, political and religious activities in this nation. Glory be to God and thanks to the motto of their Alma Mater “Action not words”. Small classes, dedicated staff and a diverse curriculum which included speech and drama, sports, etiquette and other extracurricular activities strengthened Holy Child’s educational program making it a school of first choice.
In 1972 the Lagos State Government took over the College along with other mission and privately owned schools. By the late seventies to the early eighties the governor of Lagos State (Alhaji Lateef Jakande) introduced policies that placed a further strain on the College; it also marked a dark period in the history of the College. For about two decades the College suffered neglect, lack of maintenance, facilities were overstretched due to an unusually large student population, the traditions and culture of the College were practically non-existent. Thankfully, the College was handed back to the Mission in October 2001 by the government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The Mission, Old Girls’ association and management immediately set about restoring the College to its former glory. The school environment is evidence of those efforts. It has been years of hard work but both parties continually work together for the good of the College as well as for the present and future generations. Growth and change continue to be evident, as the College endeavours to fulfil Cornelia Connelly’s exhortation to “meet the wants of the age”. Cornelia Connelly’s educational philosophy, dedicated to the growth of the whole child “in all learning and all virtues”, has guided Holy Child throughout its six and a half decades of existence, providing over three thousand young women with an excellent foundation for lives of achievement, service and fulfilment.