Value your children, make them your priority —Dr Mopelola AkinTaylor
Dr Mrs Mopelola Akin Taylor, a chief lecturer at the Federal College of Education Special Oyo, was a two-term Dean of the School of Science of the institution, Chairman Oyo State Volleyball Association of Nigeria and member, Referees Society of Nigeria. In this interview by TAYO GESINDE, she speaks about her career, parenting in the 24th century and other issues. Excerpts:
I was born into the family of the Odejides in Iresi, Osun State. I am married to a man from Ile-Oluji, Ondo State. After my secondary school education at Ibadan City Academy, I proceeded to Federal College of Education, Abeokuta where I studied Physical and Health Education. I later proceeded to University of Ife for my first degree in Physical and Health Education. I did my Masters and PhD at the University of Ibadan, I majored in Physical and Health Education and Administration and Organisation of Physical and Heath Education.
What informed your choice of career?
My intention was to read Economics because I had A1 in the subject in my West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination but when I tried all my best but could not gain admission for the course, I had to opt for was what available. I was offered Physical Health Education/Biology for my NCE. When I finished my NCE I just decided to continue in that line. When you go for NCE you are trained to become a professional teacher. It was not that I intentionally wanted to become a teacher but I found myself being one and I made the best out of it. Also, I enjoy teaching. It is a very good profession.
What were the challenges you faced in the early stage of your career?
In my area of specialisation, there was really no challenge because Physical and Health Education was rated highly at the time unlike now. That time we had Grade 2 and PHE was compulsory in the syllabus. If you pass all other courses but fail PHE, you have failed all. When I graduated and was posted to a secondary school I said I would prefer to teach at Grade 2 College because that was where my course was more relevant. At the long run, I was posted to Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo. From there, I moved to St Andrew’s College now Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo and later to Federal College of Education, Oyo (SPED).It was interesting teaching PHE at the time, you had to do a lot of physical exercises.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I enjoy seeing my students, whom I trained, excelling in their various fields of endeavours and surpassing my achievements. I have many of them who are proprietors and proprietresses of schools and are doing well. There was one of my former students that travelled to United Kingdom who came to thank me. He told me that it was the entire practical that I forced them to do in school that made it easy for him to get employment when he got to UK. Any time I hear stories like that, it makes me to be very happy.
How were you able to combine the home front with your career, especially when the children were much young?
One advantage of the teaching profession is that it gives the opportunity to spend quality time with your family as the time you spend in school is limited especially if you are in a secondary school and if you are in a tertiary institution, it is not every day that you will have lectures, that gives you room to monitor your children. However, I married late. I was still single when I did my Masters Degree. But by the time I wanted to do my PhD I was already married so it was not easy to combine the two. In fact I had a nasty experience.
I was delivered of my baby one week to my presentation. So I sent a message to my lecturer, a woman whom I felt would be empathetic and gave me concession by allowing me to present on the last day of the presentation instead of the second day but she replied that if I missed the presentation on the appointed day, I would do it the next session. So I had to look for someone that would help me to carry the baby at the back of the class why I did my presentation. That was how I did the presentation that day. That is why I always advise my students to try and complete their education before child bearing especially in our profession. In fact, there is a rule that if you cannot get pregnant while doing the course because of the practical aspect of the job so that you won’t cause injury to yourself and the baby and that was the reason we got married late. So, it is not easy to really combine the two.
Do you think Nigerian women are winning the fight against gender inequality?
We are doing well. It is not something that can happen within the twinkle of an eye but Nigerian women are coming up gradually. For instance, in the just concluded elections women came out to contest for all the elective positions from the State Houses of Assembly to the presidency. With time, we will get there.
How can a woman successfully juggle her career with the home front in a way that the children would not suffer neglect?
It depends on the woman. Some women don’t value their children and when you don’t value a thing, you handle such a thing carelessly and with levity. It is the value you place on your child that will determine the type of care and attention you will give to that child. Most people know that I don’t joke with my children, perhaps it was because I suffered during labour that I take my role as a mother seriously. So, if you value your children, you will know how to structure your time and make them a priority. For instance, you wake up early, cook their food, bathe them, dress for them and drop them in school before going to the office. At the end of the day, pick them up from school. If you value them, you will not allow just anybody to have access to them and that is dangerous especially now that ritualists and rapists are everywhere. You can’t trust anybody; even the person closest to you cannot be trusted. I want to encourage women to place value on their children and know that the end result of their existence is their children. Your children are the legacy you are leaving behind. And you should leave a proper legacy behind, not the ones that will be fighting over your property when you are gone.
How can one raise godly children in our society today?
God must take control because even the pastors and the leaders we are looking up to are nowhere to be found. We now hear stories of pastors sleeping with their congregation or pastors doing rituals. The only thing I can say is that everything starts from the home. A couple that prays together stay together. They should have an altar where the family can pray together morning and night. And also bring your children in the way of the Lord so that even when you are not there, they will do the right things. Also, keep on praying for your children, committing their hearts into God’s hand that God should take control.
What advice do you have for young people?
Don’t exceed your limit. Cut your coat according to the size of your material. Don’t try to cut corners, take it a step at a time.