By DAYO ADESULU
Wale Afebioye, an executive director and business development executive of Premier College, Ijebu- Ode, in this interview with journalists addresses vital issues facing Nigeria’s education sector. He also disclosed his ambition to reposition Premier College to bridge the gap between academics and professional technicalities. Excerpts:
HOW relevant is your field of study to the development of the education sector?
I studied Mass Communication and later did Human Resources Management. I have been in the educational sector for a period of 15 years as a teacher and an administrator. At different times, I also worked in some schools in and around the town, but in the last three years, I have been involved in administrative side of running schools.
In my little experience of training people for job at different levels, one of the things I have discovered is that many Nigerian schools train students to be holders of certificates rather than people who possess skills and that is the reason why Nigerian graduates after leaving school, cannot find jobs based on their poor performance and those who have the opportunity of getting one, have to undergo rigorous training by the corporate organisations that employed them.
What do you think are the problems associated with education?
I think basically the problem with the education sector is the fact that our schools are not centres for creative expression and most times, people go to school basically to have a certificate to present in order to have a job.
However, schooling should be about discovering yourself, exploring your abilities and developing your skills as well as expressing your creativity, but the government and the society do not reward creativity, rather, only certificates are recognised. Only the private sector rewards creativity rather than just certificates.
It is the failure of government policies that has caused the ongoing strike. One important thing we need to know is that, if we want students to be better, we need to give them the tools to work with but while doing that, we need to also make sure that schools are not run as a profit-making ventures but as a sustainable effort at changing lives.
What are the thrusts of Premier College, what stands the College out?
Premier College’s aim is to bridge the gap between curriculum content being taught in schools and the technological know-how they need to be successful in life. We also have enrichment programmes that are designed for our students to discover themselves early in life as well as giving them tools in the area of software, training and project work that will help to perfect their skills in future endeavours.
Premier College is not just like any other school because from the moment a student enrols, it is important that all the necessary tools to work with, as well as those that will make learning easy without asking parents to pay extra for laptop computer, books, uniform and bags as well as free lunch, are given to aid learning.
Its existence is like a new dawn in the education sector in Nigeria. For instance, a child attending any secondary school in Nigeria is faced with the problem of textbooks while some parents think some books are not as important as others, coupled with students who do not concentrate on their studies due to hunger as well as low access to information because they do not have personal computers and access to internet.
So these are the gaps Premier College fills, coupled with the rigorous academic content delivery. As a matter of fact, our requirement policy places emphasis on qualified teachers with proven success at local and international examinations.
Also, one of the factors that stands Premier out is our total care system. This is a system that deals with all aspects of a child’s development – be it academic, social, spiritual or physical.
It’s imperative to note that our graduates are well adjusted individuals who can prove their worth and a great source of pride to their parents. However, it will interest you to know that the school does not have traditional classrooms, but we have dedicated subject rooms such that when a child for instance is learning Mathematics, everything in that room must speak Mathematics and that is why we ensure that the time spent learning such subject is well spent. The key word is sustainability, so Premier College does not offer free education but our tuition fee is so affordable that most working class parents can afford to pay for world class education.
Our school operates on an integrated Nigeria–British curriculum but what is important is that our curriculum has been designed in such a way that all local and international exams are considered in preparing the students for local and international exams.
Our campus is equipped with wireless internet and systems and administrators have designed a firewall that will restrict access to certain sites.