For thirty-eight years, Mrs Modupe Adeyinka-Oni has been involved with teaching children. After many years as a teacher at the Corona Schools, she established Standard Bearers School, Lekki, Lagos, twenty-four years ago.
Adeyinka-Oni is very passionate about the use of technology in the school system; bridging the gap between different categories of schools in the country, education for all as well as the overall development of the teacher.
Standard Bearers School is twenty-four years old, and the Proprietress explains how she has managed to raise outstanding children across this span of time. “My years of experience have taught me that most big schools deliver their service in that the children do very well but, sometimes it goes beyond doing well in school. It is about having the freedom to choose, and having been taught in a different way myself, I could connect with the need for a bit more engagement.
“Different schools work for different children. And so, I needed a school where my children would not just go but will thrive. So, in talking about my children here in the school, and what I think is most notable about them, I will say it is their confidence. We don’t tell them what they cannot do, rather we tell them that if you can dream it, you can do it. We are a small school, a family school, and we believe that children should be able to express themselves in their natural environment”.
In addition to training them to be confident, the children are also encouraged to become creative. “We dance. It is a skill that I came to understand, like speaking and listening, is also a language of communication and the children actually ascribe high value to it.
Dance for us is mandatory. We got them a very good dance teacher who takes them through what we call creative development which is about dance, spoken word, drama, and music. And in this way, we have improvised a curriculum that is still fashioned along the line of the Nigerian and British curriculum but very unique. So, with every opportunity, we can turn any lesson into a movie production. We recently had our International Cultural Diversity Day and every class picked a country to focus on. The children dressed up in the attire of the country they picked. With the level of confidence we’ve instilled in them, the ability to do, to innovate and think outside the box, we have had children who are doing well in the entertainment world, banking sector, etc”.
“I believe so much in this ‘soro soke’ generation; let them have their say and help them to shine the right values behind what they are saying. We are a school that has imbibed the very notable ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ which we communicate through a programme called ‘the leader in me’. When we start putting those kinds of values in them, we believe that our children are born to be leaders; they have already learned the foundation. We have five pillars that we focus on: creativity, innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship, and technology. Outside of the core academics, they must absolutely embrace these five. We believe it is a combination of that and the academics that go on to set them apart”, she added.
Declaring that her generation – people who went to school between 1955 and 1985, must concede that they haven’t done a good job, unlike the millennial children who understand that Nigeria will change when everybody is given a fair chance and so, are ready to work hard, she lamented that “We have crippled our nation by our own selfishness and greed. I count myself as part of the problem because I am asking myself why do we have private and public schools? Why is it that the private school is thriving and the public school is seemingly deteriorating? For someone who went to a public unity school, it does not make sense. It’s sad to find out that up to 35% of our youth are illiterates.
“Then you also ask yourself; we have had 20 years of an elected government, and in these twenty years of democracy, the politicians, the leaders, the whole system, has practically failed the people.
Now back to the children, the millennials, Generation Y, Generation Z; no matter how bad or corrupt they are, they will never be like our generation. This is because many of the children who came out for the #EndSARS protests are children of the elite who are questioning the decisions of their parents”.
Technology in the educational space is something she’s most passionate about and that led to the Techno-vation Challenge. According to her, it began “In January of 2019, the coding instructor in school approached me for a competition and I called about five children and told them about the competition. The whole techno-vation challenge is teaching not just the tech side of things but the business side also. So, they came in as project managers and they all had departments, learned the marketing side of things, and everybody found their own niche and together they built this app which got them into the finals; the feat meant that we were in competition with children from around the world. From my days in school, to what I saw in America, and coming back, I understood that there was a challenge. So I came back with a stronger determination to ensure that we bridge the gap in our own teaching and learning”.
While many schools are still struggling to catch up after the series of lockdowns due to Covid-19, Adeyinka-Oni’s experience forms great testimony. “Covid-19 pushed us to compare ourselves on a global stage, and so have exposed us to the world and exposed the world to us, there is no going back. We were teaching classes online on account of the Covid-19 restrictions. Now, though we are back in physical school, every child is with their laptop. Assignments are done on the laptop.
It has been said that in the next decade, Africa will be home to the headquarters of many global organizations. Now if that is going to happen, we have to have the local skills to take those jobs. That got me thinking about this upscaling and upskilling.
“The cost of building and equipping a school and training the teachers for just one school is massive. If we look at the budget of education in our country, basically what it does right now is that it pays salaries; there is no money for resources, maintenance, even sending teachers for programmes to improve themselves”.
On a sad note, she believes that illiteracy is the country’s greatest problem “It’s obvious that illiteracy is the problem and we must go back to the basics. Look at Nigerians abroad, how many of them are in Biden’s administration? We are doing good things, but must our children have that mindset that except they escape from Nigeria, they cannot be better? Literacy is what is going to set the minds of each person free. Nigeria is in this state because we have too many illiterates who cannot think for themselves and all they do is listen to that mob voice, ‘they say we should do this and we will do it’”.