Taiwo Demeji JoJolola is Director of Studies of Difas School. An educationist, Jojolola is also a writer, a creative facilitator, a counsellor, a broadcaster and a global speaker who believes so much in using the power of the mind to attain desired goals. She is a co-presenter of Frank talk on Television and MD/CEO of TDJ Consult Ltd. The alumnus of the Federal University of Technology Akure, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and Wombourne School of Millinery, United Kingdom (UK), in this interview, talks about the increasing rate of child abuse, rape and molestation in Nigeria, the fallen standard of education and why she established Difas School nine years ago.
By Esther Onyegbula
As an educationist, what do you think is responsible for the falling standard of education?
Parents are responsible for the falling standard of education in the country. It is really alarming coming in contact with graduates who can’t defend their certificates. Because our school is a JAMB accredited centre, I come in contact with a lot of students and parents who come to the centre to write Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). You find parents of some of these students attempting to bribe you. A child that knows that the parent will pay a teacher to pass exams will not study their books. Quote me here, parents are responsible for low education standard. There was a time when children came to write the UTME here, a woman came to me with N5O, 000 and her child number, I disgraced her openly. I remember when I was doing my post-graduate diploma, PGD, and I was hearing slang like ‘NA’. Honestly it took time to discover that it means ‘non-appearance’. Some parents register their children or wards, pay the teachers who will go and write the exams while their children go to sleep. At the end of the day, the child has a result with 9A or 8As. Because they can’t defend it, when they get to the university, they begin to bribe lecturers. These days, parents don’t force children to read. The social media too has not helped. Instead of reading, they are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. A child that you are telling to read wants to watch Big Brother Naija. If there is a way parents can change that mentality honestly, things will fall in place.
The issue of child abuse, rape and child molestation is on the increase; even some schools have been alleged to have teachers who sexually abuse children. What do you think is the reason and what should be done about it?
We have not had any case of sexual abuse, molestation or bullying in our school. I am a mother. I have children even though two of my children are in the university and my son is in secondary school here and I know how a parent will feel if her child should be abused. We sensitize our children and teachers. Apart from employing responsible teachers to teach our children, we do a background check on our teachers. We go ahead to teach our children not to allow anybody to touch them, or carry them on the lap. They are taught not to stay alone with an uncle or teacher and, whatever happens, mummy and daddy must know. With that, the children have the mindset that they shouldn’t allow anyone to touch them.
Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. This saying depicts how Difas International College came to existence nine years ago. I started Difas because of my passion for excellence. We were living on the Mainland before we moved to Ikorodu in 2006. When we got to Ikorodu, it was difficult to find a quality school for my children. When I eventually got one, the structure was not satisfactory. And Ikorodu traffic was so hectic, so I had to leave Ikorodu every day as early as 4am with my kids just to make sure they got to school early, as their school didn’t allow lateness.
The stress of waking up early started telling on my children, as they will be sleeping in the car and looking so worn out. It got to a point when the proprietress of their school advised me to change the children’s school as they started had sleeping in class. I continued with the search but I couldn’t change the children from the school they were attending on the Mainland for one whole year. Later we found a school but I noticed they my children couldn’t use the school toilet because it was usually not flushed after use. Their school bags and uniforms were always dirty. And whenever I lamented, they would say the school floor was not tiled so there was always dust everywhere.
The situation was different from where they were coming from. At a point I decided that establishing a standard school was the solution. I spoke with my husband and luckily we were able to acquire the first three plots of land which we used to set up the nursery and primary school. Within few months, we were able to complete the primary section. We didn’t build everything at the same time, we worked gradually. We started the nursery and primary school in 2009 and established the secondary school section in 2012. The name Difas is an acronym of my children’s name.
How affordable is the school?
Our fees are affordable considering the structures and facilities that we have in place, the conducive environment and the quality of the teaching staff. All the classrooms are air conditioned. We put all these facilities in place because we want the best for our children’s mental development. Everywhere is tiled. On each floor we have four toilets. Apart from having a beautiful structure, we also have good hands to run it. It’s not about the building or facilities, the quality of teachers also matters and we have teachers with good qualifications, with some having master’s degrees because we believe it is the good hands that will actually mould the children and produce the desired result. We started with board marker and we have now graduated from that level. All our classrooms including the kindergarten are fully digitalized.
Sincerely, I am so proud of the academic performance of Difas School children. In the just concluded WASSCE, our students had 100% pass in all their subjects. Most of them have secured admission into choice universities. The pupils in primary school and students in the secondary school section who are yet to write the exam are doing well academically. Any time a child leaves a particular class and goes to another school, he is usually given double promotion.
What can you say about double promotion of pupils?
Double promotion is good but has its disadvantages. You know most parents won’t mind promoting their child from primary one to five without considering the age or maturity of the child. A child must be mature before he can go to the university; so somebody cannot just brainwash him or her to engage in cultism, prostitution and other vices.