Instilling Old Values

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For several decades, Ilesha Grammar School has enjoyed enormous infrastructure and financial support from the old students. This time, the 1994 set championed an essay writing competition to improve the writing skills of the school’s students. Martins Ifijeh reports

The Holy Trinity Grammar School in Sabongida-Ora, a quiet town in Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State has produced several prominent Nigerians, including the immediate past Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, Sunday Ikhioya, who has made a mark in the Ministry of Youths and Sports, Directors, Permanent Secretaries, notable politicians, among others. However, this has not translated into giving the past and present students of the school a new lease of life, as the school continues to battle with dilapidated facilities and lack of several science, arts, social and sporting facilities.

A visit to the 68 years old school that has produced former and present players in almost all of the sectors of the country, including the Nigerian Army, Customs, Ministries of Finance, Education, shows that only minor renovations have so far been done when compared to the influence and wealth of the privileged Nigerians who started their little beginnings from the school.

But the same cannot be said of Ilesha Grammar School in Ijesha Land, as it has enjoyed enormous good will from old students for several decades. A continuous and consistent gesture that has in no small measures affected the academic, social, creative and sporting lives of the students.

The old students, who, like the Holy Trinity School, has produced some of the big names in Nigeria, believe students of the school will continue to add relevance to the country when their needs are constantly met by the seniors they look up to in the society. Some of which are former Governor, Lagos State, Pa Lateef Jakande, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, retired Honourable Justice Alfa Belgore, among others.

The old boys also believed the gesture and their constant touch with the school will continue to be a morale booster for the students to study hard to one day become like their seniors who have never shied away from giving back to a school that has shaped them into what they are today.

For instance, as far back as the 90s, the old boys were already investing their time and money into transforming the school into a mini university campus through infrastructural, social and mental developments, in a bid to making the young students better than them in the society when they grow up.

“While I was a student of the school about three decades ago, some of our old boys came back and built a library on a full plot of land, erected several class room buildings, provided school buses for us, equipped the laboratories, provided books, among others. All these, were part of what helped us in acquiring the knowledge that we are giving back to the society today through our various life endeavours.”

This was the statement made by a member of the 1994 set, Mr. Oludare Adanri, who, together with some old students of his set, have decided to return the gesture of the school that has moulded them into who they are today in the society, and then as a token of remembrance to what the older students of the school during his time did for the comfort of the students and the school administration at the time.

“While the government was doing the little it could at that time, the old students gave much more. And through their gesture, we did not lack anything during our time as students of the school. There was free bus shuttle, standard library, fully equipped science laboratories, and a whole lot more. It’s also our turn to give to the younger students of the school, and we believe this tradition will continue for several decades to come,” Adanri added.

According to him, the 1994 set has decided to take the development of the school as a project which must be accomplished yearly, and for every student passing through the school henceforth, “there must be something to benefit from the 1994 set,” he vowed, adding that the legacy will continue yearly.

“Due to the efforts of the school management and contributions from other old students, it was the only good school in Ilesha land, hence we will not want the legacy to die. We want the students to learn in a conducive environment and be better in the various subjects needed for them to face life,” he added.

While other sets of the school have provided infrastructures; including libraries, classroom blocks, among others, the 1994 set is focusing on making impact in the students’ writing and speaking skills, arts, and sporting activities since it is becoming a new trend in the 21st century that students are losing touch with essay writing and public speaking due to the advent of social media and societal nonchalance to writing and speaking skills of young persons.

To achieve this, the set decided to start the project with the reading, writing and speaking competition, while the arts and sporting competition will run sometime in 2017. “We decided to introduce the annual essay competition, where we asked the students to write an essay on ‘Social Media and the Nigerian Student’,” said Mr. Adanri, who is the chairman of the project committee.

He said out of the over 1,000 students of the school, 118 submitted their essay writings, which were assessed by a team of independent educationists who are not staff or teachers of the school, and the best 12 persons emerged as winners. “The quality of the essay content from the 12 winners showed what the school has been known for – Excellence. They did creditably well by explaining how the advent of the social media was shaping the lives of the Nigerian student. The winners all received cash prizes and books, while all the 118 participants were also rewarded with books, as a motivation to continue to write,” he added.

He called on Nigerian youths to imbibe reading, writing and speaking habits, adding that to be in leadership positions, they must possess these leadership skills. “A leader who fails to communicate to those around him through speaking or writing only has short term span,” he stressed.

On his part, the senior prefect of the 1994 set, Mr. Ayo Awe Alagbinla, said the low turnout of participants, for the essay competition by the students (118 out of 1,000) showed that the society must do something about the dearth of reading, writing and speaking abilities among youths, adding that the culture of short messaging due to social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, has unconsciously been imbibed by Nigerian young adults, at the detriment of essay writings.

“Writing has enormous benefits, hence we will continue this tradition yearly in the school because we want the students from here to continuously be the best, as they have always been. This school has produced a former Governor of Lagos State, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye passed through the school and a host of other highly placed Nigerians.

“Products of this school have always been major part of those who have contributed immensely to this country, and we want the culture to continue. These young ones will someday also get to positions of authority, so we must join the school administration in grooming them properly,” he added.

Meanwhile, the principal of the school, Mr. Rev. Donald Oke, said the school has always been lucky with old students who remember to give back to the institution that nurtured them. He appreciated the gesture from the 1994 old students, adding that a little deed done to a child has far reaching impact even in decades to come.

“The essay competition has again reaffirmed the need for young Nigerians to improve on their reading, writing and speaking skills, because any good leader must have one or all of these skills to be able to lead appropriately,” he noted.

He said for students to improve their writing, they must keep writing, reading, listening and looking at things very critically, adding that writing deals with impression. He said, “A lot of young Nigerians feel writing is only for the genius, but truth is, whoever is determined to know how to write can achieve it through continuous writing and reading. Also by participating in competitions like this, I believe it has helped our students,” he added.