Educationists, Employers Of Labour Should De-emphasise On Paper Qualification – Expert

Ben Akintelure is the Principal of Phidel College, a post primary school at Isheri-Olofin, Idimu, Lagos, that prides itself as an all-round educational institution with an express mandate to develop students to become next generation of world leaders. In this interview, Akintelure speaks on how secondary school students should be prepared so as to make useful contributions to the society. Excerpts:

How do you think examination malpractices can be curbed in Nigeria?

Exam malpractice can be curbed when educators and employers do not place much emphasis on paper qualification. The desire to obtain certificate by every student at all cost forces students to go to any length. If technical colleges are facilitated and well funded, students that do not excel at junior secondary level will be encouraged to go to technical school having known that they can get good jobs.

When teachers are well paid, they will not be tempted to be involved in any misconduct such as exam malpractice. Also, when we imbibe the culture of online exam, those involved in exam malpractices will not have means of hijacking or buying exam questions.

The CBT, as adopted by JAMB and NECO, can curb the menace, but the 2015 deadline should be extended so that every school is compelled to have adequate computers for the exam.

Why do some schools use more than one curriculum to teach their students?

Exposing the students to various curricula is good because it provides them with different opportunities. In the British curriculum, students are trained to finish in five years. There are some topics that are not found in British syllabus but are treated in WAEC and vice-versa. There are some topics you don’t need to go into details for the British curriculum, but in WAEC or NECO, you are expected to teach.

Another fundamental difference is that the British curriculum requires logic and thinking while WAEC and NECO questions are too direct. So we have situations whereby students who can memorize notes very well can easily pass WEAC or NECO, but in the British curriculum, if you are not intelligent, you will fail.

At Phidel College, we prepare students using Nigerian, British and American curricula. We have certified teachers who can handle all these and this set our students apart from their peers. You can’t, however, say one curriculum is better than the other and preference for one curriculum depends on if you want your children to study here or abroad.

Basic languages of the world such as French and Chinese are made compulsory for students at some point in their education here. The types of the exams we undertake here include WAEC, NECO, International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

What’s your take on the clamour for vocational subjects to be made compulsory in secondary school syllabus?

The truth is that when you teach students vocational subjects, you are actually nurturing them to not just be future leaders but leaders that can be self-reliant and contribute to the society. The point is that students should be taught some vocational subjects so that if they cannot get white collar job at the end of their education, they can think of particular vocational jobs that they have already learnt and develop on them.

At Phidel College, we teach our students vocational subjects. We have a standard Home Economics room where the students can put to practice what they have learnt. There is clothing and textile room with various sewing machines. We do tie and dye here. Our music studio is fantastic. There is no musical instrument that can’t be handled by our music teachers.

To guarantee a brighter future where we have knowledgeable, principled and respectable citizens, education has to be total for the students. There are other values that need to be inculcated in students. That is why in Phidel College, we are also training the students in the areas of phonics, diction, etiquette and courtesy. Another important aspect is training the children in the way of God because no matter how you equip a school, if the students are not trained in the way of God, there is no way their minds would not be corrupt.

What measures do you have in place to check anti-social behaviours, particularly among the boarding students?

That is the essence of giving students total training. We impact adequate academic, moral and social values in our students. The moment you are registered as a student of this college, you are trained to imbibe values that are expected of a responsible citizen in the society. With the orientation you are given, you can’t do otherwise.

For the boarding students, we have standard hostels which are unique compared to the conventional hostels in other schools. We have hostel rooms accommodating maximum of 4 students and this helps eradicate bullying and molestation.

Would you say there are enough facilities on ground in the school to ensure your set objectives are met?

Oh yes! We have amazing structure and environment.We have a school auditorium that is well equipped. Thereis constant power supply. Ourstandby power generatingsets take over immediatelythere is power outage. We have sports complex consisting of volleyball court, tennis court, standard wimming pool and football pitch with synthetic surfaceWe have a computer laboratory that is well equipped and connected to internet.

Everywhere is networked. Our classrooms are fully air-conditioned likewise everywhere here just to make the environment habitable and conducive. We have the sickbay where the nurses attend to students. There are schools buses that take day students to and from school though it is optional. And of course we have qualified teachers and experienced teachers.

For the boarding students, we have hostels for boys and girls with common rooms. Our hostels are home away from home. The rooms are en-suit (the toilet and the bathroom are connected to each room), unlike the conventional one whereby the students would leave their rooms, go to another part of the hostel to use the toilet. The importance of this is that there is high rate of toilet disease transmission. But in a situation where you have a toilet serving only 4 students, the risk of having toilet disease is reduced to the barest minimum. There are saloons and we control the hairstyles of our students.

One other thing that is very important is our dinning. From experience, when students are not well fed, they lack concentration. When students are malnourished, the brain will not develop and where the brain is not developed, it is not ready for academics. The students will then keep performing poorly. But here, the dinning is taken care off in such a way that we make sure the students are well fed.

At Phidel College, we have physical structures, facilities, equipment and seasoned teachers to achieve the set goals. We want to ensure every student that has his secondary school education here becomes the pride of this country.

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