By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA- St. John’s College, Alor in Idemili South local government area of Anambra State has become famous for entrepreneurship of its students, thanks to the authorities of the school, which decided to convert it from a grammar school to a technical college. The 60-year-old school which celebrated its diamond jubilee last weekend was established by the Catholic Church and was among the schools compulsorily taken over by the defunct East Central State government after the Nigeria civil war in 1970.
When the immediate past government of Mr. Peter Obi decided to return schools to the missionaries, St. John’s was among those handed over to the church and the difference has been clear since.
Over the years, the school produced notable individuals, including the current Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige. Ngige, who was former governor of the state, his brother and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr. Emeka Ngige and former director general of Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, Mr. Emeka Eze were among seven prominent old boys of the school honoured at the diamond jubilee held at the school premises at Alor.
What dazzled those who attended the diamond jubilee, including some of the old boys who graduated decades ago is the entrepreneurship of the students. The school manufactures paints in commercial quantity, engages in welding activities and designs buildings and some of the products manufactured by the students were on display during the ceremony.
Senator Victor Umeh representing Anambra Central in the Senate, who was one of the guests during the ceremony, expressed delight at the turnaround of the school, a development he attributed to the handover of schools to their original missionary owners by the Anambra State government.Umeh, who donated N500,000 to the school, commended the partnership between the state government and missionaries, which made the state excel in many international competitions in recent years.He said: “This school has been nurturing children to grow with the fear of the Lord and that is why they are dedicated. With the return of schools to the missions by the state government, this school has been rejuvenated. The lost glory of all the mission schools has also been restored, with proper learning environment, as well as discipline and moral education..
“As a technical college, I am happy with the progress the school is making in all areas. Here, students manufacture paints branded St. John’s Paint and all painting requirements in the school were performed by students. There is also the welding section and all doors and windows in the school were fortified by the students with products made by them.Graduates of this school employ themselves without even pursuing further education and if they are able to further their education, they will come out stronger and become more useful to the society.
Indeed, entrepreneurs are being groomed here to the glory of God.I’m therefore happy that government and the church are partnering to bring up our children to be able to face the challenges of life.” Umeh also observed that Anambra schools were ranked among the best in the country, with students from the state winning many international awards, adding that this would not have been possible without the return of schools to the missionaries.
Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Reverend Valerian Okeke, who doubles as the proprietor of the college, commended the founding fathers for the moral discipline and academic excellence which the school is noted for and urged the present generation of teachers and students to sustain the good work.The Archbishop, who also announced a scholarship award to the best student in JSS 111 to enable him complete senior secondary education added that any student who made ‘A’ in eight subjects in the West African School Certificate Examination, WASC, would enjoy his scholarship in any university of his choice.