Alvan Ikoku easily ranks among the most outstanding educationists Nigeria has ever produced. He was born on August 1, 1900, in the small town of Amanaguwu in Arochukwu Abia State. He came from a wealthy merchant family and received a good education.
Ikoku was educated at Government School and Hope Waddell College all in Calabar. In 1920, he got his first teaching appointment with the Presbyterian Church of Scotland at Itigidi and two years later became a senior tutor at St. Paul’s Teachers’ Training College, Awka, Anambra State. It was while at Awka that Ikoku earned the University of London degree in philosophy in 1928 through private correspondence.
Ikoku established his own, the Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu in 1931. He named the institution after James E.K. Aggrey, the eminent Ghanaian educationist.
Following the constitutional changes in 1946 which allowed for more Nigerians in the legislative chambers, Ikoku was nominated to Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly. He was assigned to the ministry of education. In 1947 he went to the Legislative council in Lagos as one of the three representatives of the Eastern Region.
In government, Ikoku exerted his influence to foster the interest of the NUT and promote education. He was instrumental in the legislative council’s acceptance of 44 of NUT’s proposals for amendments to various educational ordinances.
Ikoku worked for the introduction of uniform education in Nigeria through the NUT. The union made recommendations for the uniformity of education in Nigeria but the colonial government rejected them. Ikoku and his union were vindicated after independence when the recommendations became the foundation of official policy on education.
Ikoku served on various educational bodies in the country. He was a member of WAEC and the council of the University of Ibadan as well as chairman, the board of governors of the Aviation Training Centre. In 1965 Ikoku was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of law at a special convocation of the University of Ibadan in recognition of his contributions to the growth of the university. He died in 1971.