By Dayo Adesulu
Director of Tenderloving Childcare School, Mrs Olubunmi Egbeyemi was born into a family of educationists where both parents are teachers and OlubunmiÂ incidentally took after them. She disclosed the secret of her success in education sector.
My father retired as the permanent secretary in theÂ Ministry of Education, Lagos State twenty two years ago. Being a very hard worker, my mother founded â€œMay Dayâ€ Nursery Primary School at Isolo, thirty years ago.
My father owns â€œMay Day Collegeâ€ in Iponri which is about twelve years old. I had the opportunity of doing a graduate diploma in education at the University of Lagos in 1993.
To the glory of God, I had been able to manage andÂ administer May Day School atÂ Isolo for twelve years, until in 2004 when I thought I needed to express myselfÂ more, but purely for tender ages of zero to five.
That was how Tenderloving Childcare School was founded. Prior to Tenderloving, my husband said, â€œyou can not do a business without given me a business plan.â€
That prompted me to attend Lagos Business School in 2004 at the business owner management programme of Lagos Business School where I spent six months in a class of about thirty business owners where we did case studies and share business experiences though not yet a business owner.
There, I was able to learn from those business owners experiences. In 2004, we started this purpose based school, purely creche, pre-school and nursery and willing to remain with that because I am meticulous and believe in specialisation.
Even though I am under pressure by parents to extend it to secondary school,Â I am not going to yield until I get the leading from God. I want to be known for this particular sector. I have taken a baby of seven weeks old and he is already fifteenÂ months, to tell you how much care we take.
I have gone round the school and seen the facilities on ground, are you saying you do not have intention of graduating the students into primary and secondary school for the sake of continuity?
No. I want to remain focus. There is a purpose for the two storey building and the space you saw. The first floor is purely for creche. From seven months to eighteen with about fifteen each in a class and hoping to have three classes.
The second floor is designed for nursery one and nursery two. While the third floor is for administration where my office and boardroom are situated.
Part of the rooms in the third floor is for piano andÂ music, library is also there according to government specifications, though I am yet to equip it.
However, if there are pressures from parents to graduate the children into secondary school and I got a leading from God to do so, I will not use this place, but rather get another land and also work in partnership with other bodies to get it done.
So that my attention and focus might not be diverted from my major goal for creche. Because, when children are not doing well in their common entrance examinations there will be problems. This I discovered by experience.
What would you say inspired you to establish the school?
I have been in education sector for years. I am a mother and I know what it takes to bring up a child where both parents are working class and since living nannies are not easily accessible. And I felt if we run a creche from morning to evening it will serve this purpose.
Here, we have parents coming from the Mainland and as early as 7.15am drop their children and come back to pick them at 6.30 pm. I was privilege to attend a Montessori school at Heritage House School purely for age zero to three in 2005- 2006 where I acquired part of the skill for this job.
If you look around you will find a lot of land. This is intentional, because we want the children to enjoy what they are enjoying at homesÂ as ages zero to five is very important.
People asked why cannotÂ I convert the land to primary school, but made them realize that the children need it because they are delicate and need play ground.
What are the qualifications of your teachers?
All my teachers in Tenderloving Childcare are trained graduates who have been working with me since 2007. And their spoken English is superb. Spoken English is considered here as important before you are employed. You must be able to express yourself in good spoken English as kids learn fast from what they hear and see.
Besides, they love the work. I told them if you cannot love the children and the work you cannot work with me.
Where would you say you got the idea to construct swimming pool for the children in your school and how much does it cost?
When I got to Mainland club where you can find a public swimming pool, I discovered that children are not allowed to come in with their nannies which ordinarily deprived the kids who have flare for swimming. For me, I cease the opportunityÂ in order to promote the spirit of sportsmanship amongst kids. That was why we got this, which cost about N6milion.
Nonetheless, apart from our kids having access to it during a day assigned, it will also be open during summer holiday, even for other children who are not in this school. But their parents have to payÂ fees for that. Besides, swimming lesson will be organised for children from ages 2-11 during summer.
How much did each parent pay for this project ?
We did not levy any parent. But, we are now soliciting for voluntary assistance from them.
We have records of swimming accidents in some schools, what precautionary measures are you taking to safeguard this?
We make sure that the swimming pool is under lock and key so that kids do not gain access to the place without our approval. We have live guards for the children. We have swimming coach who guides and teaches the children how to swim.
Some of our teachers are assigned to supervise them during the period. I personally monitor them via a computer in my office and also record events in the swimming pool. Beyond that, that is why we are dedicating it to God today so that their will be no accident.
What will you say is the problem with education in Nigeria today?
I think the problem of education in Nigeria is more of environmental factors. For example, we all know how important power is to the society and the economy. Teachers and children who want to brows find it difficult due to power failures.
Here in our school the rooms are internet ready, so that if a teacher needs to explain anything better to the children he consult the net. Also because of the transport problem, we made provisions for buses to bring our teacher from Obalende every day to school. So that the teachers can give their best to the children. So if these environmental factors are properly cateredÂ for education will thrive in Nigeria.