HOW MY SCHOOL CAME TOPS IN MATHEMATICS, CAMBRIDGE EXAMS
Recently, three students of Ezekiel International School, Lagos, emerged tops in Cambridge examinations. In addition to its glory galore the school emerged best in the junior mathematics examinations in the state.
To celebrate this double honours, the proprietor of the institution Adebowale Fasipe told Saturday Sun the success story on how the school started and its targets for the future.
Your school has been basking in achievements recently. How did that happen?
We have consistently delivered in all the exams conducted by the WAEC and NECO and we also encourage our students to register for GCE. Our students have always done well in JAMB exams too. Recently, we introduced post-JAMB screening for admission. So having done well in those areas, last year September we started exploring what we can get from foreign examination. We picked the Cambridge Exams. It is called the one IGCSE, that is an equivalent of Nigerian 'O Level in British education, system. We started the lectures for seven students in October last year and May this year they sat for the first exams. All the students came out great but three were outstanding. In fact one of them scored A asterisk, that is the maximum score obtainable by anybody. Her name is Olajumoke Iyiola, the other two are Dennis Adewoyin and Opatola Abidemi. One good thing about three of them is that they wrote the exams while in SSS 2. They are just going into the final year in the secondary school and we are going to prepare them very well for the Advance level which they will be writing next year May when their colleagues will be writing O' Level.
What will you attribute the successes to?
To two things: Focus and dedication and quality teaching staff, that is one area we have never bent the rule of standard. We don't allow anybody to come here short of the level of our vision and mission and it's been very wonderful.
Everything we have been involved in have been done very well and the way the school is run makes it absolutely necessary for all the teaching staff to want to perform because they know that if you do well you will not go unrewarded. That has been the tradition. Though I don't want to be specific, but I can assure you they are well motivated.
There seems to be a problem between education and morals. How has your school been able to inculcate morals in your students?
We are in between the society and the system but we have set out our rules. It is either you fit in or fit out. I think about three students have been expelled for not complying with our rules after several warnings. We cannot say because we are a private school and you pay school fees so you can do whatever you like, because without discipline we cannot achieve academic excellence.
What is your vision for the school in the next couple of years?
The first is to see the school continuously do well in all the examinations we will be writing. It is about ensuring that our students gain admission into higher institutions. It is not right to see our students playing at home after leaving secondary school. We are concerned about what happens to them after they left the school and we have been able to achieve almost 90 percent success in that area, because we have always delivered them into the university. Not only that, they have been able to cope with university activities. So we wait on the Lord to take us to whatever level.
What are the challenges you have faced and how were you able to overcome them?
A lot of challenges, especially in the management of staff, because the job is labour intensive. We have about 95 staff members and you know it is not easy managing that kind of crowd. Because we have rules that guide the teaching staff we have allowed the system to run itself such as that if you are not in line with the rules your colleague will sanction you. I have actually conceded that to them because we have a disciplinary committee that takes care of that. The other area is finance. We have also been able to find a way around that. It is a Nigerian problem and we have been able to deal with it.
Do you think private schools have filled the void caused by fall in the standard of education in the public schools?
Private schools are doing better than the public schools because in private schools it is expected that there should be close supervision of all the activities of the school. Supervision of the students, the staff and the rules that guide our operations, which is lacking in public school is a tradition in most private schools. In public schools directives come from the government. For instance in Lagos, by the time directive flows from Alausa to schools in different parts of the state it has become ineffective. It has become a daily routine to ensure that the rules are kept, are used, and the children are always on line. For instance there is a way both students and teachers don't dress. We don't allow teachers sell wares in the school the way it is done in public schools and you must just be in your class when you are supposed to be there and that goes a long way. That is why private schools will continue to do well.
Is there any incident that prepared you for school proprietorship?
Before the school idea came, I had been a businessman. I think from childhood it was clear I was going to end up a businessman because there was no business I didn't know then. I can remember in those days when I was in the village and going to farm with our grandfather, my uncles and I would harvest plantain leaves and okro and take to the market. From that we made profits. I have been in business for long now, and I have always known that I will not work for people for long. My uncle Chief Ogundele had asked me to look for a buyer for his plot of land, but since I could not find any I decided to buy it for N800,00. That was where the school started.