Wesley College At 110: Are The Good Days Behind Us?
Established November, 1905 as a Teacher Training and Pastoral College, Wesley College, now Wesley College of Science, Elekuro Ibadan is one of the oldest secondary schools in Nigeria. To say this great citadel of learning has produced great inventors, scientists, businessmen and women, political stalwarts, technocrats, diplomats, medical practitioners, consultants, and other Nigerian professionals doing well in different sectors of the society at home and abroad is saying the truth.
I know of few who include Splash FM veteran Yoruba presenter, Mr. Kola Ladoke, gospel music maestro, Goke Bajowa, dance drama actor and producer, Ayo Ajewole also known as Alfa Sule, a former General Manager of Gold FM , Deacon Femi Oladipo.
The list continues and I am sure thousands of the college’s products fill the economic, political, religious, sports, and academic sphere of Nigeria. I also read of Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was in Wesley as a student in 1927 and returned as the college clerk in 1934.
Apart from producing Nigerians who make the country proud by contributing to national development, Wesley College has pitched itself with the best public secondary schools in Nigeria. The school on many occasions represented and won medals for Oyo state and Nigeria in local and international competitions.
The dynamic and vibrant Junior Engineer Technician Scientists (JETS) and Literary and Debating (L&D) clubs consisting of highly intelligent students make meeting Wesley College students in external competitions a herculean task for students from other schools. In 2001, Wesley College had one of the best results in the history of the West African Examination Council with the overall best result in Nigeria and 3rd in West Africa.
As Wesley celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, the truth becomes bitter to swallow. I recently took a drive to the school and I was emotionally battered at the poor state I met it; Wesley College is now a shadow of its former self. Although I was unfortunate to have gone while the school was on vacation, but it is crystal clear that the glorious days are behind Wesley College. The fact that I no longer hear of the school winning laurels in major completions in the state and Nigeria substantiates this fact.
Since Wesley College is a government controlled school, it is not immune to the numerous challenges contending with Nigeria’s educational system. Some of which include, but not limited to infrastructural decay, lack of competent staff, defective libraries, ill - equipped laboratories, poorly motivated and managed teachers.
How do we explain the fact that the school runs majorly on Youth Corpers who lack teaching experience and PTA teachers who are frustrated victims of unemployment? A so called science school without functional science laboratories - The Chemistry, Physics and Biology laboratories doesn’t look like they conduct practical as they should.
I also noticed that the second biology laboratory has been turned to a classroom, obviously to accommodate the large number of students being admitted without putting into consideration classrooms to put them. I was unable to get to the school hostels and dormitory, but I am sure nothing would be spectacular about them.
Truth be told, Nigerian leaders have toiled with some educational programs without any sustainable roadmap to qualitative and functional education, which has caused the regressions in some high flying schools like Wesley College. For instance, the salaries of less educated local government chairmen are higher than that of school teachers. Teacher’s motivation automatically dwindles and giving the best becomes difficult if not totally impossible.
It is a known fact that sound education is needed to drive national growth and development, but the pittance sum invested yearly on education by the government, lackadaisical attitude and gross insensitivity towards education make the future looks bleak. Therefore, our schools need good policies to stop the deteriorating trends because education is pivotal in positioning Nigeria for self sufficiency.
Civil right groups and activists should not stop ringing the bell for qualitative education while philanthropists and well-meaning Nigerians should not stop donating structures, equipment and textbooks to sustain the public schools while the government make adequate investments into education to revamp the failing system.
A hundred and ten G-B-O-S-A to great WESLEY
Up School... Hurray!!!
Gboluwaga Olaomo is a member of the 2008 graduating set of Wesley College.