By JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
Mrs. Folashade Olayinka Olatunde is the current President of the Home Science Association-HSA, an association of Home Economists that has in the last 50 years worked tirelessly to equip Nigerians with qualitative education and vocational skills. Here, Mrs.Olatunde speaks on the achievements of the association, among sundry issues.
What started with a three-bedroom bungalow handed over to us 50 years ago by the then Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, but have now grown into a multi-faceted association engaged in life-changing activities.
The Home Science Association has contributed immensely to national development, particularly in the area of education. So far, we’ve established a number of educational institutions; three nursery and primary schools in Ikoyi, Oko-Oba and Ebute-Metta areas of Lagos.
We also have a co-educational secondary school at Alakuko in Ifako-Ijaiye, Lagos State. We also have a cardinal objective of promoting vocational education. Hence, we have a centre in Ebute-Metta for teaching vocational skills.
We run a day-care centre for children of the market men and women in Sura area of Lagos Island. This is in our effort to reach out to the community at the grassroots level. There’s actually a plan to replicate this in other areas of Lagos State in the future.
One of our cores at HSA is to teach women how to manage their homes, and also the basic nutritional needs of the human body. We also teach how women can prepare food and still retain the nutritional benefits in them. We have a problem on our hands right now as a nation; a lot of people are becoming diabetic! What is the way out if not nutrition?
If we all know what to eat, we will be able to control the problem. So, this is an area where we all have to join hands and do the best we can. I’m actually speaking to people who claim Home Economics is for women only. Home Economics as a discipline and profession must be encouraged and given a pride of place in our community.
Government needs to help by making it a core subject in our schools. By turning the knowledge of this discipline into everyday life skills, individuals, families and communities can make the best use of the scarce resources available and also add value to them in a sustainable manner.
We at HSA are passionate about the quality of life of the family as this is the main cell that makes up a nation. We believe that if the ills of the nation are to be addressed seriously, it must be tackled from the home. Moral is lacking now, and that is one thing we are very concerned about in our association.
Even though there have been a lot of examination malpractices all over the places, we can stand and say our secondary school is above board. We have even been given an award as a school free of examination malpractices.
As an NGO, we are contributing our quota because we believe that Nigeria can be better. We also believe that achieving this dream of a better Nigeria will be easier achieved by teaching young ones and inculcating in them the right values because Nigeria belongs to them.
We are hoping they will be able to right the wrongs that we their elders have done. That is one of the main reasons why we went into establishing schools! When people visit our schools and see how they are run, they always conclude that we must be in money.
But that isn’t true! We are only managing what we have, and that’s how life should be lived! If we are all accountable for whatever we do, I believe this nation will go places. Accountability is very important, and that’s what we stand for.
We also believe very well that if we are able to take our youths off the streets, this nation will become more fruitful. Graduates are scattered all over the place, crying that there are no jobs! Meanwhile, there’s something that can be done.
But the problem is that too many people seem to believe in white collar jobs these days! Industrialised countries do not depend on white-collar jobs. What we need is to teach skills! This is why we have our afore-mentioned vocational institute in Ebute-Metta where we teach income generating skills to people so that they too can be employers of labour.
In all, our association has been working towards helping our country to achieve the UN millennium development goals by providing qualitative education to Nigerian children, and working towards eradicating poverty through vocational training so as to reduce unemployment through skills acquisition for both males and females.
This is our own contribution to curb violence as idle hands are ready workshops for the devil and are readily available for fomenting disorder. When there is violence, the homes are put under stress, the women are the worst hit as it is their husbands, sons and daughters that get killed.
We are appealing to the government to see to the security of life and property in the nation. Where there is peace, industries will spring up and our youths will be gainfully employed. The government is trying but they need to do more. We also appeal to other NGOs and industries to contribute their quota to bring sanity to our country Nigeria.
These fifty years, we at HSA have tried our best, and we are not resting on our oars; our founders may never have envisaged that this association could go this far.
I’m the daughter of an educationist, and I’ve also always been a teacher. I’m a product of the Baptist Women Teachers Training College in Abeokuta. I trained as a Home Economist at Regent Street Polytechnic in London, now known as the Westminster University. I’ve been a member of the Home Science Association since the early 1970s.’