The triumph of ‘Regina Pacis five’

By Editorial Board |   03 September 2018   |   3:34 am  

Regina Pacis Model Secondary School

If any proof is required that much good can come out of this country despite her challenges, it was amply demonstrated the other day by the achievement of five girls from a Catholic school in Onitsha who won the Gold Award at the ‘World Technovation Challenge’ held at Silicon Valley, in the United States.

This is heartwarming and glorious.  

According to reports, Technovation gives opportunity to girls to learn programming skills toward becoming ‘tech-entrepreneurs.’

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But to this end, they are expected to identify a burning problem in their community and then develop an Android application to solve that problem.

A team of five Nigerian girls from the Catholic Church administered Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha, Anambra State, developed the FD Detector to solve the problem of fake drugs of which, Nigeria is arguably one of the countries most afflicted in the world.

‘Leveraging technology to save lives is our utmost priority. 

That is why we have decided to maximize this opportunity to solve the incessant rate of death caused by fake drugs,’ said the team.

The triumph of the ‘Regina Pacis Five’ is a great honor to themselves, their school, their state and their country.

There should be garlands of honour to the visionary leadership of Dr. Peter Obi who as governor in 2011, returned missionary schools to their founding owners and in addition gave them huge financial support for operational efficiency.

But above all, on the global stage of young tech-entrepreneurs, Nigeria has been listed on a Wall of Fame and is now being talked about in positive terms. This rare feat is a demonstration of how to begin to build an entrepreneurial nation.

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Besides, the remarkable laurel from a developed economy shows that Nigeria is indeed blessed with talents waiting for the least opportunity to blossom.

It is also clear in this regard that a people enabled by the right environment, will always exhibit excellence and grit.

Who are these whizz-kids? There have not been indications that they are children of the power elite.

They have appeared as children of the average ‘citizen Joes’ who value quality education enough to go the extra miles to get funds required to give their wards the best of the only enduring gift parents can offer their children – education.  Regina Pacis is a Catholic school.

The Catholic Church is known throughout history as a leading light on learning and relearning – as a fundamental objective.

But beyond the church as a learning organisation, it has led in spreading education everywhere it is established.

Everywhere a Catholic Church can be found, there is a school. In any case, the school is purpose driven – towards morality and skills acquisition.

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Article 532 of the Social Doctrine of the Church states that ‘Catholic educational institutions can, and indeed must carry out a precious formative service … an efficacious Christian education …for a conscious maturation of moral and social duties in the various cultural and professional fields.’ 

Regina Pacis School that has produced the Technovation champions also exemplifies the quality of the typical Catholic school where learning is as emphasized as discipline and character.

The school is founded with a vision that, ‘everybody excels in morality and academics’. 

The school ethics stipulate, among other expectations, that ‘A Regina Pacis student is ordinarily special; she make the difference anytime, anyday, anywhere’…The school motto is instructive too: ‘Mediocrity is our enemy…Excellence is our pride.’  

It is easy to draft lofty visions and espouse high-sounding ethical standards: public and private institutions are wont to do this.

But, it is trite to say that the gap between talk and action, principle and practice, is often as wide as a gulf.

Nigeria is a good example, in this regard.

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However, it is noteworthy that Regina Pacis School that has a history of being administered by an elite corps of highly educated priests has demonstrated how to bridge the gap between rhetoric and action.

The achievement of school makes a good case first for faith-based educational institutions in their classical context.

Traditionally and much unlike what obtains today, faith-based schools were never established for profit but to educate within a paradigm of cost effectiveness.

What is instructive here is that it is not how expensive a school is but it is the quality of its management that produces excellent students.

Second, there is a good case for government to borrow a leaf from Peter Obi model: They should not only plan to return all institutions seized years ago to their original owners, they should regulate as well as support all educational institutions as Obi did, to enable them produce students who can hold their own even on a global stage.

There is no need holding on to educational institutions seized during the years the tyrants ruled, which they can’t maintain today.

They should let go by returning them to their original owners.

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Certainly, the girls from Onitsha have demonstrated yet again that given a fair and equitable opportunity and means, Nigerians and indeed the black race can indeed be excellent and competitive too.

Obi observed while announcing the return of Mission Schools that, ‘the collapse of education in Anambra State is directly connected with the takeover of schools owned by the missionaries, churches and voluntary organisations in 1970. 

That singular exercise signaled the disappearance of morality and character building from our school system.’

He has been proven right. Indeed, some states such as Delta, have followed Anambra’s step.

But this is not to argue for government to abdicate its responsibility for the education of its citizens.

No nation rises above the education of its citizens. None. An educated citizenry is beneficial to the nation, after all.

There should be no question that government has a constitutional obligation on education of its citizens.

Specifically, Section 18 of the 1999 Constitution mandates government to ‘direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.’

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All told, it must be clear to all stakeholders and even cynical citizens that the achievement of the Regina Pacis School girls did not just happen: It is the outcome of individual and institutional diligence under the guidance of a committed school leadership, the collaborating organisation Edufun Technik STEM, with minimal support of the state government.

The project that brought global accolade to Regina Pacis School and glory to Nigeria is one that is meant to solve a local problem of fake drugs.

It shows that, granted the right condition, Nigerians can develop homegrown solutions to their societal challenges if they believe in themselves and stop looking up to the hills of foreign technical aid and donors.

Meanwhile, the point must be made that good leadership is a sine qua non to the creation of an environment conducive to problem-solving, critical thinking and innovation.

It is unfortunate that iconic Chinua Achebe drew our attention to this leadership deficit since 1983 but we are still in the lurch in 2018.

According to Achebe, ‘The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.’

It is gratifying that despite all the odds, the Regina Pacis Five happened.

It is a clear evidence that the human spirit can triumph too without political assistance.

We congratulate the girls, Regina Pacis School and the collaborating organisation Edufun Technik STEM for showcasing us as a significant leader and a source of pride and confidence for Africa, now rising.

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