Pastor Sunday Olatunji, is Chairman, Royal Masters School, CBD, Alausa, Lagos. In this interview, he speaks on the state of the nation’s educational system, what is needed to be done, and the celebration of four outstanding men who were recently awarded Doctorate degrees in academic fields outside their core banking fields. Excerpts:

Olatunji

Congratulations for celebrating these men of letters. At what point did the idea to celebrate the four scholars for their academic attainment occur to you?

Well, when these guys are our bankers, accountants and all of that, they were not in academics and of course they made their marks in banking at various levels. We worked together and they were marvellous. Remarkably, they went on beyond banking to do what is rare in Nigeria for their dogged pursuit of academics at the highest level.

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That shows commitment, vision, sacrifice and determination. The kind of virtue that made them successful in their careers and for them to have conquered the first mountains in their lives, in their careers to that level and still pursue another career, another mountain in another sector entirely and to the highest level is truly commendable. I was immensely impressed and excited at their achievements.

How do you monitor their career and academic progression?

They call me from time to time, concerning the progress they are making in their lives. This is a remarkable team of resourceful men doing well in their various fields of human endeavour. Those that remain in banking and others still in the banking profession have continued to do well. You don’t have so many blessings and blessed people around you and don’t want to celebrate them. Life is too short to ignore such things.

Obviously, these are not the only ones that have passed through your watch, what is your advice to others still struggling to make a mark?

Everybody is facing a challenge at any point in time. It is a question of degree, type, shape, size and all of that. Like I said, one common ingredient is that these guys have done well in life. The virtues of determination, integrity, hard work, a visionary and organised life, are there and those things will always see people through. They were well resourced, well equipped for life and that is why they’ve continued to weather storms and move on.

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Also, we try to get in touch with one another and support one another as much as we can. That is why we gather once in a while to discuss, brainstorm and of course, to fellowship together because the community is a great asset to anybody and we are enjoying that by God’s grace.

You are known to be a banker yet you still have a passion for education, what is your  impression about the sector in the country?

It is the most neglected, the most afflicted, the most traumatized. That explains why we are not making progress. Schools and education systems reform society and when we ignore education it, it becomes a time bomb. and we are going to pay dearly for it. Things are not getting better, they are getting worse.

What should the governments do specifically, and even parents?

The government needs to take education seriously. The value system is a bit challenged. I am waiting to see how the government can successfully run schools the way it used to be, 14 or 15 years ago. I am still trying to see how that miracle can work.

It is important to recruit visionary people, truly committed people, patriotic people that are prepared to make sacrifice. People that are prepared to think about the society, think about Nigeria, the next generation and the future of this country. Unfortunately, we cannot say so about people in power who are unconcerned about the destiny of the nation, about the building blocks of a vibrant nation.

There are many countries of the world with no natural resources and they are doing excellently well because they’ve nurtured the human capital so well that they are leaders in many areas of human endeavour.

We can see the calamity that has befallen us despite the resources that we have and all of that because we have neglected the human capital side of the enterprise. With the vandalization of values in the society, from primary to secondary, children are no longer inspired to achieve anything meaningful in terms of academic pursuit.

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They are looking for quick ways to make money, to become celebrities, to go into entertainment and things like that, thinking of quick ways of making money, rather than old-fashioned ways of hardwork, integrity, skill building, and resilience to weather the storm and challenges, to survive under adverse circumstances.

We understand you have an investment in the education sector. Can we have an insight in terms of your contribution to the sector and the institutions that you are nurturing in ensuring that the indigent children are catered for?

Contribution to education is hard to measure. The physical contribution is easy to measure but the success of a school is far more than physical contributions. I stand here today by the grace of God, I am a product of the contribution of many teachers. Some of them are dead but their work remains in  things I do today. However, in terms of the physical things we can talk about, we have the Royal Masters Montessori Nursery and Primary School. We have a day college here as well and boarding college along the expressway, the Christ College, as well.

We have the Trinity International College that has been there for a quarter of a century and has turned out  hundreds of graduates who have done excellently well worldwide.  By the grace of God, Trinity University is going to take off shortly. We are expecting a license anytime soon.

As  2019 campaign approaches, what agenda would you specifically want to draw for politicians?

It is a big challenge. The first thing about education is the learning environment that has been badly polluted and that has created a challenge for education curriculum.

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The curriculum is the totality of the exposure of the learner on how they learn. So, there is corruption in the curriculum as you can see at all levels. If there is abuse against the curriculum, whatever people are exposed to becomes part of the curriculum and it affects them. That is why you find children come home by picking on habits from schools that are negative. That is one and it is a big issue.

The next, of course, is instruction, teaching. Teaching is fundamental and most important factor to educational success when the environment is right. You cannot deliver what you don’t have. There are corps members posted by NYSC who could write essays that grade five primary schools, write during an interview. We had to keep them because at one time NYSC complained that we are always rejecting corps members.

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