Reverend Father Patrick Olukunle Balogun, the current Principal of Christ the King Catholic College (CKCC), is the Director Education of the Catholic Private Schools in Ijebu-Ode Diocese, Ogun State. In this interview, he speaks with MODUPE GEORGE about the uniqueness of CKCC and its success stories, as well as his assignment as the director of education. Excerpts:
At what point did you start charting the course of CKCC?
Though, I wasn’t the first principal of CKCC, I have always been the director of education even from when we started planning establishing the school. I was the coordinator of the project; from the take-off period and opening of the new site. I have been involved from when the idea was conceived. When I was ordained as a priest in 1994, it was one of the projects I was assigned to. The school was started in 1995 and the first principal of the school was a lay man, Dr Kola Onasanya. He ran the school until 2004 and Reverend Father Emmanuel Matuluko took over in 2004 and he was the principal until 2010. I took over as the current principal and director in 2010.
Tell us about CKCC…
CKCC is a school for boys only and it is a fully boarding school. It is a school that is poised to cater for the formation of the boy-child. The expression there is “formation” and not just education because what we are aiming at is the holistic formation of the boy-child, which includes the spiritual, character, academic and physical formation, as well as all other aspects of the human person. We have always believed as a school in the approach of training the child in the ways of God and every other thing would fall in place.
What are the landmark achievements of the school since inception?
Since the establishment of the school, it has always done well by the grace of God. The college has recorded a lot of achievements; many trophies have been won at both the national and international levels. Talking about the recent ones; in 2012, the college had the best male candidate in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), and just this last one, we had the second best overall student and we just returned from the award ceremony held in Abuja. CKCC represented Nigeria in Holland for the World Mathematics Olympiads and we won the gold medal in 2011. In 2012, we represented Nigeria in the world Olympiads in Argentina and the performance at that competition ranked Nigeria among the first in the world. As a school, we also prepare students for international admissions. We open up the possibility of students taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) so that they can gain admissions with scholarship abroad.
Boys are known for their strong personalities, how easy has it been inculcating morals in them?
For us in the Catholic schools setting, that is nothing too big of a challenge. The reasons I will not divulge because those are our own tools and approaches of success. However, as a church, we have a discipline process and we have, very serious implementation of it, but the entire discipline process is being calved from a particular principle; the principle of ‘’love them to change them.’’ I can assure you that in a school of over 600 boys, the discipline is close to perfect.
As the director of education of Catholic Private Schools in Ijebu-ode, why does your denomination invest so much in education?
First of all, if you check even the secular history, the practice of education emanated from the Catholic Church. The early monks started it, when it got to the stage of the advent of universities; it was the monks who started it too. So, education has been part of the practice of the Catholic faith and this is the reason why we do so. It is a lot of investments, but the church is not doing it for business. It does it primarily for the purpose of contributing to the development of human person. The philosophy of the church behind this is that, there is no way we will preach Christ without having to form the individual human person, which is the basis.
Who can attend the Catholic schools?
Any child, as long as you are a child of God. We have children from different parts of the country, from Abuja, Delta, Ibadan, Abeokuta and a large number from Lagos. We also have few international students, the ones whom their parents sent back from the U.S for the purpose of this formation and we have had quite numbers of successful stories; we also have students from Brazil and UK.
What in your opinion makes CKCC a much sought after institution of learning, by parents?
In CKCC, we had from the outset applied technology to our teaching and learning processes and so every classroom is equipped with the electronic interactive boards. Teachers have been trained extensively on the usage of technology and so from our classrooms, we have now virtual excursions. We have visual tours, which rather protect our students from the risk of bad roads and kidnapping, which is rampant now. It is no longer safe to take children on excursion and coupled with the economic recession. So, with virtual tours you are sitting down in classroom here in CKCC, Ijebu-Ode and you are actually having almost a physical tour of the Vatican City. Also, because of this electronic system of teaching, the teachers are able to gather resources from the net to further illustrate their points. We also have comfortable and well-ventilated classrooms, as well as an ICT unit, where computers are kept and students are trained in ICT so that they can become professionals in hard and software maintenance. This is not in the Nigerian curriculum, but it is our own design and at the end, some of those children are certified. They are able to take the examinations for certification in all of these trainings. Also, we are very concerned about welfare and so we have a fully functional clinic with a medical doctor 24 hours of the day. We have sporting facilities, where students get to train in soccer, basket ball, volley ball, and we are working on the introduction of lawn tennis. We have field and track events and the boys are quite good in all of these. Our hostel facilities too are on point and we have a very good network around the school, the school is well lit and fortified with strong security system.
Has the school ever produced exceptionally gifted students or geniuses?
Yes, we had a student called Awe Sanya, he came in as a regular student, but having seen his potential, Awe was groomed and he became so good in Mathematics. The achievement that I said we had in Brazil, Argentina, among others all came through his representation of the school. Right from here, he established a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) called ‘SMILE.’ He went from school to school and ensured that other students did not see Mathematics as a difficult subject and he used the tool of rubik’s cube to stimulate the sense of Algorithms and Mathematics into fellow students. And so, as a school, we supported his idea and we produced a customised CKCC rubik’s cube and we distributed it in the whole of this area. To God be the glory, there is a competition that is organised every year at the LTV. I’m yet to see the person who will beat CKCC’s timing on the rubik’s cube competition. This is due to the foundation that Awe had laid here. We had another child who came and even almost repeated a class, but became eventually the valedictorian of the school and he is doing well internationally as at today. Also, from the 2016 set, the boy who won the second best result in the whole country, Okorigba Disney who with CKCC kind of environment was able to develop his potentials and turned out to be that student who made 9As in WASSCE. In the school, we have an award for 9As, it is N1million. The award was giving to him on the prize-giving day. His parents came on his behalf because he was already in Canada studying. It is interesting that we are able to pay a million naira to a student for doing so well, but interestingly, at the national level, WAEC paid no kobo. It was very sad for those children who spent their time burning midnight oil in study and there was nothing to encourage them. The government ironically invest ridiculous amount of money in unnecessary social activities.
What role do you think the government can play in motivating exceptional students as well as assist the efforts of private schools’ owners in the state?
Basically, government and corporate organisations should rise up to stimulating the motivation of students in the right direction. More so, government should begin to reconsider the issue of ever escalating taxation on schools, it is beginning to kill us.