YinkaKolawole in Osogbo
Indigent students from Oke-Ila, Osun State, who desire quality education can now heave a sigh of relief, as the monarch of the area, Oba Adedokun Abolarin is building a solid educational foundation for youths within the town and beyond with the establishment of Abolarin College at Oke-Ila Orangun, where over 50 students are already studying and acquiring creative knowledge free of charge with three square meals daily.
The unique feature of the college is that the monarch designed it mainly for the sons of poor people in the society and has vowed not to bring in the children of the wealthy people because he observed that the children of the rich would destroy the legacy in all ramifications.
Another interesting aspect of the college is that the monarch did not limit the intake to his community, but extended it to every Nigerian that from a poor homewithin and outside the country.
The traditional ruler pointed out that youths are the leaders of tomorrow and they have their own lives to live and they can contribute to the socio, economic, political and religious development of their respective communities if they are educated at the right time.
The students are also taught handcraft daily, which has made them creative; this is done in collaboration with the Centre for Transformation and Empowerment Initiative, headed by Mrs. Lola Wey, the Executive Director.
Considering that leadership positions are being used by privileged persons to live in affluence without recourse to the downtrodden, the only source of worry to the monarch is how to raise indigent children and make them responsible citizens and future leaders.
Abolarin, who believes the throne is a missionary work meant to touch the lives of the subjects, said the best way to sustain such legacy is to secure a better tomorrow for the upcoming youths through education which he described as light and a potential machinery for development.
It was this philosophy that inspired the former lecturer at the Oyo State College of Arts and Science, Ile Ife, Saint Andrew’s College of Education Oyo and Times Journalism Institute, Lagos into building a secondary school in his sleepy town, Oke-Ila-Orangun, in Ifedayo Local Government Area of Osun State.
Since thecollege was built and inaugurated by the Deputy Governor, Mrs. TitiLaoye-Tomori, it has become a shining light to the children of Oke-Ila Orangun and other neighbouring towns because it ranks as one of the best private secondary schools around.
While commenting on the pedigree of the school, Abolarin said: “The Abolarin College is the beginning of a life time legacy that would no doubt raise the consciousness of the children of this generation to the quality standard of education that we enjoyed in our time. I hope they will take advantage of this legacy optimally for a better tomorrow.”
When the deputy governor visited theschool, she remarked: “I am highly impressed with this great school established by our erudite Kabiyesi, Oba AdedokunAbolarin, theOrangun of Oke-Ila. The students are all from poor homes but he has transformed their lives with the provision of this high school which beats the standard of any private schools in Nigeria.
“The students are happy and looking healthy and attentive. I wish many rich and comfortable Nigerians could emulate our kabiyesi by replicating this type of school all over our states and country. On behalf of the governor, and all of us in the state I say a big thank you, kabiyesi.”
The monarch, a philanthropist, who is passionate about the down-trodden, said in every leader’s little corner, he should be able to set legacies capable of making live meaningful to the people.
This is the area he is blazing the trail as a school proprietor, a gesture that has endeared him to his subjects.
On his passion to build the college, Abolarinsaid he got the ideas few yearago from one of his trips to Arusia in Tanzania where he saw a beautiful school in a remote rural setting where less privileged children are being given free education to raise future leaders.
“So, I felt that instead of joining the bandwagon of some Nigerian leaders who travel a lot and see good things but will never bring any legacy to their fatherland, I must use the little resources that God has placed in my hands to replicate the good thing that I saw in Tanzania. That was how the idea of Abolarin College came and today the rest is history.”
He said apart from academics, there are other important virtues that make a total man which also help him to become relevant to himself, his family and the society.“I am talking about moral values such as kindness, honesty, integrity, hard work, truthfulness, selflessness and compassion. These form part of the curriculum of the college since we are talking about future leaders.
“We are preparing them to be compassionate. We are preparing them to look beyond themselves when they grow up and occupy positions of authority. We are preparing them to be bold and confident and to be able to stand up for their country in future. We are preparing them to have passion for Nigeria and take care of those who are weak.
“That is why the school’s prayer says: “Make me a servant, humble and meek. Lord, let me always lift up those who are weak.”
“It is not about being a Christian or Muslim. It is not about nepotism, neither is it restricted to Yoruba children nor children from my home town. It is about any less privileged child around who is willing to be educated. That is why the only criteria for admission is poverty,” he said.
On how admission is conducted, Abolarin said qualified education consultants go to public schools in the state to sample indigent students after which they would conduct two rounds of selection examinations for them and do the final selection for admission. “It is those that do well in the exams that are admitted into the college.
“We are hoping that the rural poor children from other parts of the federation would be given the opportunity when the school begins to expand. In fact, that has already begun because we already have a student from Abraka in Delta State.”
With a view to carving a niche for the students in the area of employment, he also disclosed that skills acquisition and vocational studies are parts of the school’s curriculum, adding that very soon,
the students would be taught vocations such as bead making, cake
baking, hat making, dry cleaning, photography, fashion designing, among others to bridge the gap in the area of employment.
He said the students are also being encouraged to show interest in agriculture. “We have a school farm where the students are being prepared foragriculture. Even, some of the foods they eat in the boarding house are procured from the school farm.”
On funding, the monarch said the good work would be noticed by kind-hearted Nigerians, corporate organisations, governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Nigeria and in the diaspora “with the hope that they would extend help to us to be able to sustain the legacy and even take it to the next level.
“We need help because what we are doing is in the interest of the generality of Nigerians. We are using the school to promote peace, grow communities, stop growth and emergence of future vagabonds, criminals and miscreants that could give problems to the country in future.
“We are also trying to protect the rights of the children from the rural poor. For instance, teenage poor girls suffer a lot of oppression through rape and teenage pregnancy. Government alone cannot address the case. That is why, as an ambassador of the rural poor, I decided to actualise this dream.
“We all need to use our privileges to salvage this country from decadence and bring the rural poor to a pedestal where they won’t be forced to envy our privileges and antagonise us as kidnappers, robbers as Boko Haram are doing today.”
The monarch continued: “The Abodurin College is trying to protect the children of the rich from being consumed by the anger of the children of the poor.” He said he is fulfilled and happy with what he is doing, which he described as a passion.
Speaking with THISDAY, one of the students, Gabriel Michael said: “Being a student of college is a privilege. We have different subject teachers who teach us different languages such as Edo, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo English and French, unlike the public school where I came from.
Gradually, we have started gaining proficiency in some of the languages.
Adeniyi who came from Aboluade Middle School, Oke-Ila Orangun, said: “I have never seen this kind of beautiful school in my life. The environment is very conducive for learning. I used to trek a long distance to and from my former school because itis very far from my house. But I am now in a boarding house at the college. This makes learning very exciting to me.”
For Erosin Gabriel, the college is every child’s delight. “In my former public school, whenever we came back from school, we would go to the farm in the evening and were not able to show serious commitment to academic works. But now, we are in a boarding house. Whenever we come back from school, instead of going to the farm, we go for prep in the evening to do lessons and prepare for the next academic works the following day. This has helped us a lot to improve in our academic performance.
“We also used to sleep on mats in our parents’ homes and didn’t have
the opportunity to sleep well and eat balanced diet. But at Abolarin College, we are comfortable. We sleep in good beds, eat good food and can now concentrate on our studies.”
Another student, AdewoleRonke said: “The facilities at the college are fantastic. The public school where I came from did not have such facilities. The classrooms were tattered and some roofs were leaking whenever there were rains. Also, the number of children per class was too much that the teachers could not give the pupils adequate attention.”
Meanwhile, Wey who organisedWorld Handicrafts Day Celebration and commemoration of the Nigerian child noted that in Africa a child needs quality, free, and compulsory education(which is the bedrock of development) irrespective of background up till age 18, and its importance in building a self-reliant, virile and peaceful nation.
She said any nation that does not give adequate attention to education of all its citizens mortgages its future and Nigeria is on the verge of that. The theme of the event is ‘Sponsor a Child’.
She said the centre develops individual,organisation and community capacity with the aim of building an equitable, virile, self-reliant peaceful, healthy, prosperous and sustainable society. “We are eco and culture friendly. We also promote and defend the rights of the vulnerable group(women, children, youth, the disabled, the elderly and the sick).
This event is organised here today to emphasise the importance and the right of all children.
“Our choice of Abolarin College is based on the great passion and enthusiasm demonstrated by our amiable father towards the emancipation of the down trodden members of the society which informed his decision to establish the college, transform and enhance the lives of these children who were formerly on the street hawking one thing or the other for survival.
“Apart from this, the college is unique in that its watchword is discipline which makes it different from all other schools in Nigeria, either private or public. The management and staff of the college have also displayed an unparalleled level of commitment and dedication to the vision, mission, goal and objective of the school. Their exemplary leadership qualities needto be commended. I pray that God will water and nurture their individual gardens.”
At the college, there is a combination of teaching and mentoring which is required at the formative stage of the children. The students are receiving the right and proper upbringing to make them rounded global leaders in the nearest future. Their minds are being freed, their characters are being formed and their intellectual capabilities are being developed to the fullest.
Wey said the World Handicrafts Day to celebrate Children’s Day, World Environment Day and the International Day of the African Child was to call attention to creative education which is lacking in Nigeria and responsible for the high level of unemployment and poverty in the land which is currently threatening the desired peace and security of the country.
“Experience has shown that the competence required in vocational venture and services are grossly inadequate in Nigeria making us to seek for such skills outside our shores at the detriment of Nigerians resulting in the prevailing high level of unemployment, poverty, youth restiveness and other forms of social vices. All this would be reversed with adequate attention given to creative education in Nigeria. The amount of money ploughed into education will mean nothing if it does not arrest the problems of our country.”
She said the centre has decided to work with the college to ensure that the students are not only given quality formal education but are also equipped with necessary creative skills which would prepare them for future challenges; bring out the gold deposit in them make them
self-reliant and creators of employment in the future.