‘Anything goes is the problem with Nigeria’s educational system today’
The principal of Rainbow College, Adeshina Okunubi has stated in unequivocal terms that the major problem with the country’s educational system these says is the ‘anything goes’ syndrome. Speaking with The Guardian at an open day recently, Okunubi lamented that the general rot and mediocrity pervading the country has found its way into the educational system, leading to a systemic collapse where “anything goes and the people that should be concerned about this alarming development are doing next to nothing.”
“This problem started when the government took over schools from the missionaries but quickly found out that it couldn’t manage most of these schools. They couldn’t monitor the schools and everything, the quality, structures, discipline, staff strength, spirit of excellence, dedication and so on, they all went bad. Even after returning some of these schools to the rightful owners, the situation was beyond repair. Another problem with the system is shortcut. This factor is slowly killing the country’s education as we can all see that people who weren’t qualified in any way are getting licenses to open all manner of schools. There are thousands of schools in Lagos alone but how many can remain standing if properly scrutinized? Here, we ask people when they come, “What are you looking for in education?’ We don’t celebrate or tolerate mediocrity here.”
Proprietress of the College, Oludolapo Odunlami, revealed that the future of the country lie in its children and youths and not in any natural resource. “We are dedicated to d development of the Nigerian child. We think we have crude oil now and are focusing on that but that oil can disappoint at any moment. We are focused on training the Nigerian child to be a star of tomorrow and we know this can never dry up or disappoint. Our focus on academic excellence speaks in our results, locally and internationally.”
According to her, developed countries pay attention to science and technology from an early age and are presently reaping the fruits of that focus. “Our key motivation and staying power is the child. Giving the child a world-class education is our aim, educating an all round individual is our paramount focus. We should strive to train the Nigerian child to be a better person and add value to society.”
Odunlami added that this passion for excellence is yielding good fruits as products of the school were doing well within and outside the country, not just educationally but in sports, music and other areas.
According to Okunubi, “we not only focus on education but on behaviour and other areas as we aim to raise a total child. We use the six pillars of character to train the children to be responsible, caring and good citizens of Nigeria. We also try to develop their talents with extra curricular activities and ensure they join clubs like the fencing club, automobile club, choreography club, swimming club, basketball club, athletics club, chess club and animation club and activities like dancing, sports, makeup and fashion. In fact, we represented Nigeria in the just concluded fencing championships and won medals for the country for the first time in 14 yrs. We are national champions in swimming as well; we partake in activities and competitions all over Nigeria. As a school, we have been effective in the most way we can. As we train the students, we always try to keep track of their progress. It is important to track our effectiveness so as to produce good results.”
An offshoot of Pampers Private School, Surulere, Lagos, Okunubi said the college arm was established because parents wanted good secondary education for their children after a solid primary start. “It started as a boys-only school, then we added a girls-only before finally merging into a unisex school. A Nigerian curriculum with an international flavour is what we practice and we work with Cambridge College to enable our children stand tall and work in international circles. After the junior school of three years, the children are awarded with a junior school certificate before writing the Cambridge checkpoint exam. We do this because it is a good profiler of the child’s ability as to whether he/she will move into arts or sciences in the senior school. When they finish from the senior school, they take WASSCE and Cambridge IGCE while students that want to go to America are exposed to SAT and TOEFL.”
“Students that leave here and go anywhere in the world can blend in and thrive without problems because we have given them the ability to develop their potentials. Apart from the fact that our teachers are very committed, we encourage and support them a lot. Some of our teachers have spent 25-30 years with us and this is very important to us in the sense of sustaining longevity and excellence. Our teachers must be employable, trainable, teachable, exposed, willing to learn, give, diligent and committed to our vision. We train and re-train our teachers, they’re Cambridge certified as well as WAEC and IGCE examination markers. As key ingredients to the successful grooming of a child, the school ensures that its teachers have integrity and must be committed to the environment they are coming into because the teachers are expected to be role models for the students.”
Speaking on STEM education, Okunubi said that is a primary focus as he believes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is the future, hence the constant support of innovative discovery. “We formed the JETS clubs, science club and automobile club to encourage the learning of STEM. We equip them with not only academics but ensure they’re well rounded to face any challenges they might face. Academics is not everything, they have to excel in other areas as well so we ensure they participate in club activities.”
Saying they teach their students to be articulate, Okunubi said he wasn’t going to speak further and asked the students to speak with The Guardian’s reporter. Taking over the interview, Mayowa Oyedele, student president of the tennis, football, fencing and basketball clubs and Ekike Owodiong, a programmer and fencer said the latter started the fencing club to raise awareness of the sport. “Fencing is not well known in the country but it is big internationally. We have attended several competitions locally and internationally and we want more people to be attracted to the sport.” Jordan Nzeocha, Oluwatomi Olasoji, a programmer and jets club member, Ebunoluwa Agbede, a JETS club and relay team member took The Guardian round the school, talking expansively of their respective clubs, facilities and activities.
Olusegun Akomolafe, president of the Parents/ Teachers Association (PTA) praised the integrity of the school especially regarding exams, discipline inculcated and academic standards of the school, adding that if all private schools lived up to the colleges’ standard, half-baked and shoddy education in the country would be a thing of the past.