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‘Most Nigerian parents have abandoned their functions to school’s

By Guardian Nigeria
12 December 2020   |   3:15 am
Mrs. Iyiola Olatokunbo Edun is the Executive Director, Grace Schools. She holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree in History from the University of Kent at Canterbury and a Master’s of Arts Degree in Comparative History from the University of Essex....

Mrs. Iyiola Olatokunbo Edun is the Executive Director, Grace Schools. She holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree in History from the University of Kent at Canterbury and a Master’s of Arts Degree in Comparative History from the University of Essex, all in the United Kingdom. She later completed a post-Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Lagos. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she spoke on the role of women in the society, impact of COVID-19 on learning, parental issues among others.

What is your take on the role of women in society?
Women are very important in the society; a very strict mother brought me up. My mother had strength in talking, which she used in passing across key messages. She didn’t give me anything on a platter of gold, but ensured that I worked to earn whatever I deserved. I was exposed to several things through my mother and she ensured I had the basic fundamentals of becoming a woman of repute. It has become imperative for women to create an enabling environment and monitor their children.

The role of women cuts across the home and the society. It is also important for women to know the peculiarities of every individual child. Women should engage in profitable ventures and gain inspiration to live fulfilled lives; they should not be discouraged in any way. There are myriad of challenges facing women in our society, but they should not quit. I have met strong women in my life, who have also provided the platform for me to rise beyond my challenges. My Master’s thesis was on women and how they cope with challenges and life in my life generally. It is important for women to have confidence in themselves. Women should strive to be independent and never be a burden on the society.

In Nigeria, being a woman is a disadvantage because we are referred as second-class citizens already. Women should also endeavour to obtain quality education; they need to have the courage and confidence to face life. They should not see themselves as inferior in any way. Many women are undergoing stress and they are unable to seek professional counsel; this causes serious threat to their health. They should belong to a network of positive women, who can tackle challenges together and discuss issues.

Women should seek help when they have challenges. There are professional counsellors. They should also engage in hobbies and some activities that can give them inspiration. The older women should also counsel the younger ones.

What measures have you put in place to enhance learning process?
We have embarked on several measures to accelerate learning and deliver qualitative teaching for our students. COVID-19 has also enabled us to be more pro-active and dynamic in our teaching endeavour. We adopted three approaches, as students were not forced to come to school. The three learning methods are online: Hybrid- three days in school, two at home and five- day physical attendance in school. The strategy we adopted was the use of questionnaires for parents to choose what they wanted. The fees were different and they had choices. Basically, learning had remained the same but it was left for parents to supervise their children.

How were you able to manage the huge cost of COVID-19
It should not be overemphasised that the pandemic affected schools more than any other sector; we invested huge sums of money on data for our teachers. We also had to procure Germicidal lamps from overseas; we paid in dollars and they came through courier to facilitate speedy delivery. We obtained the lamps before school resumed and they were fixed in all the classrooms.

We also invested a lot of funds in sanitising the entire school compound. We had to invest huge funds with view to cushion the effects of COVID-19. The school had to stop some extra-curricular activities to aid social distancing.

How were you able to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on learning?
Before the advent of the pandemic, we actually prepared for the possibility of setting up an online learning schooling for our students. We started the test-run already before lockdown and it now launched the school into a new technology. We installed gadgets and began to train our teachers. There were some teething problems associated with the ideas, but we were able to overcome them. Some parents were not patient during this period, but it eventually became a success. It is an innovation we adapted to aid learning and facilitate the teaching process. Some of the students also took time to get accustomed to it but eventually. They enjoyed the system better through interactions and engagement session with their peers online.

It is impressive to note that some students, even in the primary school, developed their own videos and started their own Youtube channels. These are primary school pupils, who are brilliant. The students are technically independent. I joined some of the classes through Zoom and it was a great experience. The investment in ICT has impacted positively on our students as well as our teachers. The role of technology cannot be underestimated in view of its relevance to accelerate the learning process.

In your opinion, what are the roles and responsibilities of parents?
Parents need to be alive to their responsibilities. Many Nigerian parents have abandoned their functions to the school. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children basic values such as politeness and courtesy. The school is meant to reinforce the training parents give their children. Parents should not abdicate their responsibilities to the school. Parents should teach their children basic values so that schools can deliver qualitative learning. Charity actually begins at home. Parents blame schools for performance but they also need to be involved in the learning process. It has been observed over time that parents are nonchalant about the performance of their children academically. Parents blame the school while neglecting their own roles and responsibilities. Parents need to exercise patience in rating schools, as parents are quick to blame schools for poor standard. Teachers need to be accorded respect because they are like parents to the students.