Sapphire Stones School: Blazing the trail in quality education

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By Wilson Adekumola

The vision

Sapphires Stones Schools (formerly Molayo Children Schools) is gradually becoming a household name in Meiran, Lagos. It was the first private school in the community. It was founded in 1989 by Mrs. J.I Akeredolu after her retirement from Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) as a Secretary, Pension Office in 1985. The Ondo State born educationist studied in Pitman’s Secretarial College, West Central, England.

At 83, she still has a dashing look, full of energy. But she has since abandoned the chalk. Teaching is pragmatic and it has to do with a lot of gesticulation and demonstration. Her frail body can no longer tolerate that. She sees education as a necessity for children. Her indescribable passion for education cannot be overemphasized. She believes impacting lives should be our vision. That was what prompted her to delve into the education sector. Though she studied secretarial studies abroad she has brought a lot of experience to bear in the running of the school till she handed over to two of her daughters who shared in her vision.

The Head of the School, Secondary Section, Mrs. Olufolayemi Elegbede, is her last daughter. She studied Mass Communication at the Ambrose Alli Univesrsity , Ekpoma, Edo State. She had earlier earned her HND in Bilingual Secretarial Studies from Yaba College of Technology. After her first degree she attended Lagos State University for her Post-Graduate Diploma in Education. She joined her mother in the education sector to assist.

 

Supporting a worthy cause

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Oluyemisi Olusakin another of her daughter is the Head of the Nursery/Primary section. She holds a B.Agric Hons from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and Post-Graduate Diploma from University of Lagos respectively. Unlike her younger sister, immediately after her NYSC in 1995 she joined their mother in running the school business. They are the formidable team that uphold the vision of their mother.

Mrs. Elegbede has worked as an administrator for several organizations in the Banking and Advertising sector before she joined the school in 2011.

Asked why she left her lucrative job for running a school, Elegbede says, “Like I told you , when I was working in the financial institution I was not into core banking I was not a marketer or in operation. I worked in the administrative section. I worked with the Executives and MDs of banks. I was supporting them administratively. I only worked there briefly to get  the exposure I needed. When I worked in multinational company I had different experience. I see how things were done differently. Banking for me is monotonous. If you a marketer your job is defined. You do the same process every day. Get customer, give them value and teach them how to invest. It is boredom to me. I know a lot of people have made career out of it but I am not trying to run them down.

“But then I never knew I would come to education sector. I came to education because of the need. My mother owns this business. My sister was running the Nursery/Primary while an outsider was running the Secondary School. My mother felt agitated and wanted another of her child to join her in the business so that it can function better.

“Out of this consideration I went for my PGD as a prerequisite to come to education sector. Although I have always been involved in education, teaching is not strange to me. When I was in school each time I came around for holiday. I had always organized tutorials for students. But in the real sense my mother was my motivating factor to come into the education sector.

 

Teaching not given due recognition

Elegbede who is versed in administrative work described her experience as overwhelming. She said “I realized that teaching is not given due recognition in Nigeria.  But from my personal experience I noticed teaching is of high value. Teaching takes lot of commitments. When I was in the bank or multinationals I used to think teachers have ample time. I thought after closing from school that is the end of the day for them. But what I am experiencing now is different. When you are out of class you are planning for the next day. If you are not dealing with assignment you will be dealing with lesson note. Doing administrative work with teaching is more challenging. You oversee the affairs of the school to ensure welfare of the staff are taken care of and maintain other facilities in the school.”

He disclosed that the school has had its fair share of challenge. There were fraudulent activities by some of their former staff that almost brought the school to standstill. The mismanagement in the school also affected their students to the extent that the students did not believe in the school again. Some of their students were already moving away. But she was able to bring in her experience from the financial sector to resolve this crisis.

The school teacher who attended public school for both her primary and secondary education said she cannot send her children to public school noting what we have in the public school today is not what was obtainable in those days. He also observed how the cankerworm of corruption has put our education in a deplorable condition.

“It is true I attended public school but I attended Federal Government School which is a bit different. Why I said this is that public school are in categories as you also have State Government schools. In terms of qualitative teaching public schools are not doing badly. This is because government will always employ graduate teachers  handle different subjects. But in terms of societal value you hardly get that from public schools. It is a nightmare. I went to public school but I cannot send my children there because the value in the society now is nothing to write home about.

“Unfortunately, the population of public school has not helped the management to properly oversee the affairs of the schools. When I was in secondary school there was nothing like cultism. Nobody even talked about it. But today the story has changed. Some children who were brought from the village were involved in these social vices. They don’t have proper care. Nobody care for them. They formed bulk of the students in public school and it has a negative effect on the children. In private school we instill discipline and value into the children we guide and lead them aright .”

She observed further that the faulty educational system in Nigeria is nightmarish. “We have allowed corruption to eat deep into our society. Corruption is in every facet of our education sector from top to the local level. Some teachers are not committed to their jobs. They are just there to make a living, the passion for teaching is not there, she added.”

Discussing the issue of “Special Centre” which has become a trend during examination, the versatile educator concurred that it is popular among the private schools but blame it on parents noting that parents aid and abet the children to cheat in exam since they could not make adequate provision for their academic needs.

 

The evil of special centres

“Yes I agree with you that the issue of “Special Centre” is popular among the private schools. We are holding meeting every now and then to discuss how we can put an end to it. In our own school, we don’t aid and abet examination malpractice. We train and prepare our children for exam. What do you expect from parent who refused to pay for school fees or buy necessary materials for their children and they want their children to come off with flying colour during examination. They don’t encourage their children to read. If you fail to plan failure is imminent. Here we prepare our children for WAEC exam right from SS1. We set WAEC standard questions for them. Now CBT has come to stay and tutorial centers have gone to sleep. They have realized the need for reading. You can see that the parents are responsible for this. I blame it on them

Molayo Children School which  was the combination of their family name was merged with Sapphire Stones School in 2015 to avoid different names under one ownership. The name Sapphire Stones Schools was revealed to them by divine inspiration in the book of Exodus 24:10. Since its establishment, the school has produced various professionals in the society including, Doctors, Lawyers Engineers.

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