Principal of Ijebu Anglican Diocesan College, Ven. S.B. Omosanya, in this interview by Ayo-Lawal Gbenoba and Modupe George, explains the vision, challenges and achievements of the school.
The school has gone a long way; how did it all start sir?
Well, it started during the time of our past bishops, particularly Right Reverend A.S.O. Olowoyo. He was then the bishop according to history and the information from those who were around. I wasn’t in the church then. He wanted to establish a school which low-income-earner-members of the communion and the society would be able to send their children to. This was even the second reason for establishing the school. The first was that he felt the public schools were not doing very well because the government had taken over the schools and they had eliminated religious instructions. Morality was going down, things were bad generally and infrastructures were bad and not repaired. The primary aim was to correct some of the anomalies in the public education system. Normally, for the Anglican, the idea was first of all put before the Synod, and they debated and approved it in April 1996, while the school was eventually established on October 7, 1996. The next step was where the location was going to be. So, since it is a church project, it was decided that the school would be located in any community that was able to give them land. And a number of communities offered to give them land, but some attached some conditions which the church couldn’t comply with. So, here at Igan-Ipabi, they got what they needed and so it started. The pioneer proprietor was Bishop A.S.O. Olowoyo, while the first principal was Very Reverend M.O. Soyannwo.
You have many public schools around here, what can you say is special about this school?
Well, two things are special here. This is a mission school and we have other private mission schools around, but the tuition fee we charge is more affordable. In fact, what they charge for a year, a student here may not pay in three years. Another thing is, in some of the schools, if you don’t pay your money in full, you don’t attempt coming to school. But here, we give a kind of leeway as you can pay in installments, you just have to make sure you pay up before the terms ends.
In terms of academics, what makes you stand out?
Here, we don’t involve in the evil that is going on, we don’t help students to write examinations. By so doing, we have been able to record good results. Even now that the school has clocked 20 years old, many don’t know the school exists, but parents come and say it was someone who told them about the school. Parents whose children had passed out here are the ones helping us to publicise the school and that is why some students are still writing entrance examination. Recently, a parent came to the school and said: “Look, I have just gone to publicise your school to my neighbour and he asked me to bring him here.” So he came with the neighbour and his son. His daughter had already passed out from the school. By the grace of God, over the years, we have been able to record good results and this has always attracted more people to come. Another thing that stands us out is that we have 100 per cent credit pass in Further Maths; 88.5% in Mathematics and, 97% in English Language. This is a challenge in most schools, but we thank God Almighty for giving us an edge in these subjects.
How do you manage to maintain these excellent scores in those core subjects?
We put all our teachers on their toes, especially the Mathematics teachers, and sometimes, we create a special day in a week when they concentrate on English Language and Mathematics, especially when the students get to SSS3. We are tempted to think that may be those are some of the things that contributed to the brilliant performance.
Since the school started 20years ago, what will you say has been its greatest challenge?
It is majorly finance. The founding father didn’t want a school a common mam would not be able to afford. This was why up to last session, we were charging N20,000 as tuition per term and it was this session we decided to add N5000 to it, making N25,000. Meanwhile, for my daughter who is still in primary school, I’m paying N35,000 per term. Like I said earlier, we have schools around here, which charge as much as N150,000 as tuition fee alone per term. The N150,000 is more than what they pay here for a whole term, including boarding house, uniform and other things. Do you know that as low as our school fee is, we still have problems of getting it from the parents. Many are owing us, they would come promising and even write agreements only to default.
Since you cannot increase the fees, how do you keep in line with the mission?
We can’t increase, we can only adjust ourselves by not involving in many of the things others are doing. We would only go for things that are inevitable when it comes to the issue of finance. More so, in times like this, we would have to draw a scale of preference and choose the most needed and necessary.
How do you feel on the occasion of this 20th anniversary of Ijebu Anglican Diocesan College?
We are happy to be marking having been in existence for twenty years; we have every reason to thank God and that is just what we are trying to do in this celebration. The situation generally in the country doesn’t call for much celebration, but we have every reason to thank God; we cannot but mark this occasion. 20 years in the life of any organisation is not a child’s play, after all, some started at some point like this and they have gone under. So, that we are still existing and not only existing, but going stronger year by year, we are very grateful to God and that is why we put up a little celebration. We went to church to offer our thanks to God for his faithfulness, goodness upon our lives over the years; over our proprietors, past and present, over our students past and present, their parents, and of course over what we have been able to do with the help of God.
So, how far have you been able to sustain the vision of the founders?
We can say that the reason for the church coming into the educational system has not been defeated because the church decided to venture into education to correct some of the problems facing the educational system in the country. The problems are mainly two: The falling standard of education and infrastructures, then, due to the lack of moral training for the young ones.
Since the government took over schools, we can all see that it was a wrong decision; it’s not helping us. It has just led to the production of many young people who don’t have any moral conscience at all. They go to any length to get what they want. However, seeing our products, who are all over the world, we thank God that for the past 20 years, we have been able to sustain the vision of the founders.
So, you support the call that schools should be returned to the missions?
After the government take-over of schools, we have seen that they have failed. In actual fact, it appears that everything the government touched has gone sour, almost everything, including education. Almost everything that the government ventures into, one way or the other, is turned into nobody’s business and is not properly run. If that can be allowed in other aspects of our lives, it cannot be allowed in education, because education is the foundation of the future of any society. Any country that wants to make it must have a strong education system.
So, some of these are the shortcomings that the Anglican Communion felt it should correct. That’s why we ventured into the education system and we thank God that He has helped us to achieve these visions.
What are the other things that give your school an edge over others?
We are located in a very serene environment far away from noisy condition of the city. Nobody comes here to disturb us, unless we want to disturb ourselves. We are able to face our studies squarely and of course, people always say the taste of the pudding is in the eating. Parents whose children have passed out here usually turn out to be our PROs. They go about telling others about our school and that’s how we have been getting more students. Therefore, if anyone wants to give his child quality education, coupled with good morals, this is the place to come. Our fees are affordable and the mode of payment makes things easy for the parents.
Aside that, our hostel facilities are very conducive, more than 80 per cent of our student population are in the boarding house as most of them come from far areas such as Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, among other places. We have people coming here because they hear about us and they believe in their children’s future.
We also have good sporting facilities with a lush, green field which has been a centre of attraction. There is a student we have here now, who chose to come to this school when he came visiting with his mother to see his sister. When he saw the school, he said he would like to be a member of the school. His sister has passed out now, but he is here. We have a facility for sports and we are still developing more.
We want to do more to meet students’ needs. We have a well-equipped laboratory for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and we have qualified teachers to handle all subjects. We have a functional library which we want to upgrade and we can also boast of an active ICT facility. We have, a computer room where we have enough set of computers. In summary, we have all it takes to give a child qualitative education.
What about your academic performance?
Like I said, over the years, the parents of students who pass out from here find it easier to turn themselves to PROs for Ijebu Anglican Diocesan College. In fact, there are some families who can mention up to four children from the same family, who have passed out from this school. They tell others about us and that’s to show we have been having good results over the years.
Most schools have problems with English and Mathematics in their WAEC, how has your school been faring in that area?
We have not been doing badly in those two subjects. If I should show you the record in the past few years, you will discover our scores in the two subjects are in the range of 90 and 100 per cent.