Evangelist Omoseeke Dada, a retired mathematics teacher and early childhood education expert, is the proprietress of Goodness and Mercy Schools in Ibadan. In this interview by YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE, she speaks about her experience as a mother, her 25-year experience as a school owner, why women have difficulties starting a business and problem with the education sector among other issues. Excerpts.
How would you describe Evangelist Omoseeke Dada?
I am a committed educationist and a staunch Christian with passion for children. My background is purely in education and all my qualifications are also in this line; I have a Teachers Grade II Certificate, Certificate in Education from the University of Ibadan and B.S in Mathematics and Early Childhood Education from the Temple University, Philadelphia, United States of America (USA).
You are an educationist, how do you maintain the balance so that the business side doesn’t affect qualitative training?
The business and the training are one and the same; or rather I would like to consider what I am doing as bringing up children and preparing them for future life in society. That is the focus and the business side is just an advantage. Parents of pupils in our school can confirm that our fee is small compared to other schools of our status; it has always been about the children and not profit. And we intend to retain that focus.
Which aspect of what you do is most enjoyable to you?
The most enjoyable aspect of the work is response of children to training and the excellent results we have, especially at the passing out of children from the school. It gives me joy to know that I have been able to contribute to the development of the individual child that passes through me.
What influenced you to start a school?
The school started as a calling from God. I received the call several times through vision and dreams and it took me some time to start, because left to me, I would not have dreamed of establishing a school. I thought after contributing meritoriously to the work force of the Oyo State government and retiring as a teacher, what was left was to face the business of God but God had a different assignment for me; and that was how Goodness and Mercy Schools was established.
What would you say is the problem with the education sector today?
The problem with today’s education is basically funding and lack of access to education. The school is not attractive to pupils because of lack of facilities and materials for learning. Teachers are not well motivated and therefore the standard of education is falling. And in some cases, teachers do not improve themselves and are not equipped to give pupils the best.
How easy was it starting your school?
It was very difficult to start because the day I started was the day I submitted my voluntary retirement notice. Funding and space were the major problems. We had to start from one of the apartments in our house with three children in the daycare. Later, we added some evening coaching classes for primary children. The growth was slow and difficult, but God has been faithful. Setting up and maintaining a school is not child’s play but with commitment and hard work, you get it done, especially if you are prepared to wait before the profits can come in.
How long have you been a school owner?
This year is our 25th anniversary, to God be all glory.
What are the challenges you face as a business owner who runs a school?
We face the challenge of space, especially for games and sports. Also, payment of fees by children is a major challenge; parents want the best education at the cheapest rate. And this is quite a herculean task because giving the best costs money, teachers must be paid, the school must be maintained, there are taxes and payment of non teaching staff, educational materials and teaching aids are also important, all these cost money but many parents do not understand that running a school involves huge capital, if you want to give children the best available as a school owner.
How do you maintain standard in your school?
Being an educationist myself, I know the ideals I want and I work towards them. We recruit good and qualified teachers and we provide good and conducive learning environments for children. We also ensure that our teachers attend regular seminars and workshops, some of which we organise ourselves during holidays so that they can keep ahead and retain best teaching practices.
What are your thoughts on women striving for financial independence?
Life is not easy without a good financial background. The woman should not depend absolutely on the husband for a good living. She needs to be properly trained, either academically or professionally so that she can have a steady means of income to help maintain a decent life and family.
What do you think is responsible for loss of morals among youths?
The first thing I will say is that the adults have failed to provide good examples for the young ones to follow. Secondly, many parents work the whole day and do not have adequate time to spend with their children. A major one is obsession and fixation on social media, television and literature that are not educative and do not promote desirable moral values.
Does that mean parents have failed in their duties?
It is not all parents that have failed in their duties. There are still families with well behaved children. But the number of failed parents is increasing due to the factors mentioned above.
What do you think of the spate of abuses, especially of children and women in today’s society?
I believe it is as a result of decadence in society. There are too many broken homes; the economic downturn is such that people do all sorts of things to survive. The government has a large share in the blame because they do not provide adequate security and employment for the citizens. Many churches also are not practising what they preach.
What would you say is the problem facing women entrepreneurs in Nigeria?
Women have problems with starting up a business due to financial constraint and the attitude of men towards women’s independence. Many men enjoy the dependence of their wives on them therefore they do not give them adequate support.
What advice do you have for parents and school owners?
My advice to parents is that they should put the issue of good education as top priority in their family. There is no sacrifice too much for the training of their children. Parents should also not be too much in a hurry to get promotion for their children. They should insist on sound foundations and quality education. As for school owners, it is not everybody that can establish schools as if one wants to sell oranges. We need very good professional background to establish schools. The problem of quality should be topmost on our minds. We also need to move and grow slowly and at a steady as well as sustainable pace; some people start and have all classes together. Even in some schools, one teacher combines about three ability groups together, teaching for instance, classes I, II and III. This is not good. Finally, all school owners should get registered and submit themselves for adequate quality control.
What advice do you have for people with similar vision?
People with similar vision should spend enough time thinking and planning the project before commencing. Then, they should also seek adequate advice from more experienced people.
What in your background prepared you for this?
I had enough educational and professional background and experience as a teacher, both at the primary and secondary school levels. I also had a lot of spiritual upbringing in prayers, Bible learning and teaching, these helped a lot.