Why schools must prioritise quality teaching, leadership training

In her entire history, Nigeria has never witnessed such a desperate need for visionary, selfless, and exemplary leaders, philosopher kings, and sundry dramatis personae that have what it takes to halt the country’s drift and turn the country’s potential into reality.
A cross section of graduating students of Mind Builders High School, Lagos, during the ceremony
A cross section of graduating students of Mind Builders High School, Lagos, during the ceremony

Be Diligent, Focused, Determined, Graduands Counseled 

In her entire history, Nigeria has never witnessed such a desperate need for visionary, selfless, and exemplary leaders, philosopher kings, and sundry dramatis personae that have what it takes to halt the country’s drift and turn the country’s potential into reality.

With multifaceted challenges confronting the nation, the urgency for adequately resourced leaders to take the reins, and steady the ship of state cannot be over-emphasised.

This lacuna, therefore, informs why youths must play active parts, and schools’ active roles in the leadership grooming/recruitment process, even as youths must indicate sufficient interest in being part of the solution to the country’s leadership conundrum.
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All these and many more formed the kernel of talks at the recent valedictory session of the Class of 2022 of Mind Builders High School (MBHS), Lagos.

Beginning from the Director-General, Office of Education Quality Assurance (OEQA), Mrs. Abiola Seriki-Ayeni, to the school’s Education Director, Mrs. Bolajoko Falore, the charge was simple – take the next phase of your educational pursuits very seriously, work very hard to achieve set goals, and leave no stone unturned in acquiring and burnishing your leadership qualities.

Even more heartwarming, was the clarion call by the Valedictorian, Dawn Akinselure, on his fellow graduands not to bury their talents, but optimise them to project the school’s and the country’s images.

The OEQA DG said: “Hard work is another major ingredient to achieving one’s dreams. Therefore, you must continue to work hard because the future leadership of this great nation rests on your shoulders. Today, as we celebrate you, we are also preparing you for leadership. Hence, you have to be diligent, focused, and determined for you to achieve your dreams at all times.

“This is the time for you to be committed to your academics and educational progress. You must imbibe good morals to help you achieve your goals and since leadership skills are not easy to acquire, you must continually be involved in capacity building that will yield more productive results leading to improved learning and development that will transform and reposition your chosen careers,” said the DG who was represented by the Director of Private Education and Special Services, Mrs. ‘Bambi Falayi.

While showering encomiums on the school authorities for the transformation carried out on the graduands, Seriki-Ayeni, again switched gears to the departing students urging them never to be complacent, but to begin to “dream big all the time.”

Said she: “Dreaming big is a higher calling and a never-ending vision that requires you to push yourselves to the limit to achieve your set goals, and the main ingredients are overcoming fears of failure, self-confidence, and having good role models. To achieve your dreams, you must have set goals and you must believe in yourselves and be practical to achieve the set goals. Your set goals must be S.M.A.R.T. In other words, they must be Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Realistic, and Trackable for you to have a better sense of progress.”

She further praised MBHS school for her commitment to the progress of urging the management to “continue to support the Lagos State government in its quest to achieving excellence in the education sector, by ensuring the delivery of quality education at all levels.”
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Akinselure the valedictorian cautioned his colleagues against taking their eyes off the ball, or sitting hands akimbo waiting for breakthroughs, stressing that doing so could rob them of the opportunity to write their school’s and country’s names in gold.

He said: “Though we are very excited at this moment, let us not forget the tasks ahead. Let us not bury our talents, but optimise them to project the image of our beloved alma mater and Nigeria as a whole.

“Let me remind you, fellow graduates, that we should not wait for opportunities to be created for us, we must challenge ourselves with the knowledge and skills that we have acquired from this institution to create such opportunities for ourselves. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail.”

Charging his colleagues to preserve the legacy of academic excellence the school is known for, Akinselure emphasised: “Graduating Class of 2022, I want you to know what a great gift it is to be as prepared as we are because most other schools in our clime do not offer such an advantage. Here, we have had a high degree of academic excellence hence we are prepared to take on whatever challenges come next in our lives. We have greatly benefitted from what we learned here.”

Buttressing the fact that the Class of 2022, like their predecessors, has been prepared to do exploits, the school’s education director, Mrs. Falore said in her remarks: “The academic results are a true representation of the heartfelt commitment, sustained application by the learners, and the constant support and encouragement by the parents… today, we gather with a primary objective – to honour those learners who achieved academic, emotional and behavioural excellence in the course of the outgoing academic year 2021/2022. Your diligence, exemplary behaviour, late-night burning of candles to study and heartfelt attitude have finally paid off. You have demonstrated that you have all the qualities required to soar high and stand out. I am greatly proud of you and doubly proud that you are our students and products…”

She added: “I am proud and honoured to be able to reiterate that I am fortunate to be working with some of the good teachers of this generation. The drive, passion, and determination, underpinned by skill, knowledge, and empathy have seen teaching and learning continue to raise progress and achievement despite the ever-changing social, learning, and emotional needs that we are confronted with in the 21st century.”
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Speaking to The Guardian on why sound and qualitative education is very important at the foundational level of learning, she waxed religious: “Holy Book says ‘if the foundation is destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ Sound and qualitative education cannot be compromised at the foundational level of education because a child’s formative years are from ages zero to eight years. This is the period in the life of an individual when he/she learns more quickly than at any other stage of life. It is the period when a child experiences rapid intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development. A child’s formative years are very important because it is the period when a child’s character is defined and the decision of what a child will become in the future is decided. These are the reasons we treat the issue of early years education with all the seriousness and attention that it deserves.”

On whether the current curriculum in use in the country adequately addresses the country’s leadership needs and challenges, she responded: “The current curriculum in use in our country is very good, but it could benefit from a little positive amendment.”

According to her, reputable schools have a lot of roles to perform to complement the leadership recruitment process in our society. “To begin with, leadership is all about having a positive influence on members of society, and this is what we have been teaching our students right from their formative years.

“A school of thought has it that ‘nobody cares how much you know as a leader until they know how much you care.’ We have taken it upon ourselves to teach our students to be caring and compassionate. We have always encouraged them to contribute relief materials and money, which are in turn sent to orphanages and homes of the less privileged. This way, we have been training them to be compassionate. Furthermore, we have entrepreneurial and leadership programmes for all our students…

“We have also ensured that they are always guided by the seven pillars of character namely courage, citizenship, respect, caring, integrity, and trustworthiness. Finally, our core values are also tailored toward producing great leaders in society. They are excellence, integrity, and the fear of God. We encourage collaboration between home and the school because the school must play its role, while the parents to be supportive. We believe in a community contributing in several ways to raising children.”
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Interestingly, some ex-students of the school had stepped up and graduated with first class in universities within and outside the country.

Falore while expressing excitement over the development said, “our first class ambassadors are made up of our primary school graduates who had their very excellent foundation in MBS, and those that came in for their six-year secondary school at MBHS.”

She stressed that the school is poised to remain “a foremost educational institution that is driven by excellence… That is why we have been making use of the best human resources and technology since the inception of the school. We have been continuously committed to creating a centre for knowledge and character training since inception. Our mentoring and leadership programmes, and Roll of Honours Board are all meant to encourage healthy academic competition among students, while our Academic Support Programme is to aid students with academic challenges.

The Chairman of the school board, Mr. Olatunbosun Jacob Falore, as well as Falore in his comment who said “the school has done its best by molding the graduands for tomorrow’s challenges,” urged them to take it as a starting point for greater things to happen in their lives.
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