Mr. Muazu Omeji, the Principal of the Nigerian Tulip International Colleges (NTIC) Abuja explains the factors that have made the NTIC brand reliable and acceptable to Nigerians. He spoke recently to Uchechukwu Nnaike
A lot has been said about NTIC schools in Nigeria, how did it all begin?
The Nigerian Tulip International College (NTIC) is an educational institution run by the First Surat Group whose primary interest is in the areas of education and health with the single vision of building human resources and raising responsible individuals equipped with necessary skills and knowledge of the contemporary world. The story of NTIC began in 1998 in a rented two-bedroom apartment with a vision to become a household name in the education sector in Nigeria. And by the grace of God, through dedication and hard work, the school has grown tremendously.
In addition to high academic standard maintained over the years, NTIC schools have been successful in the area of good moral upbringing. This has been acknowledged by both parents and students themselves. I want to attribute this success to the quality of teachers in the school. As a tradition, we have consistently employed quality staff placing a premium on both character and learning. Our students have blossomed into many success stories which have endeared the school to the general public.
Is there a place for Nigerian culture and values considering the fact that it is a Turkish school?
Yes there is of course. We run a comprehensive educational programme. The academic success of our students cannot be separated from the suitable and conducive environment they enjoy. Just like our slogan of â€˜The right environment for learningâ€™, it is our belief that a combination of theoretical and practical approach to teaching is one of the most efficient ways of transmitting knowledge. We not only strive to make available high-quality classrooms for academic learning, but also modern laboratory and social clubs for our students to practice what they have learned in class.
We also realised that students need to excel in other areas of life such as sports, cultural activities and leadership to be able to be well grounded for the next phases of their lives. As a result, the school has introduced concepts like social club, cultural activities and sports facilities to serve as spaces for our students to develop their innate skills. Excursion activities and competitions are also organised to enable our students experience other cultures while their psychomotor domain is being exploited.
What can you say are your strong points as a school?
In NTIC, it is our belief that human beings are born as empty vessels which can be shaped by good values. As a result, morality is not an area we toy with. Attention is paid to character right from the point of admission. I think that is one of the reasons all our ex-students have remained good and worthy ambassadors of the school and the country as a whole. Part of what we do is employing hostel supervisors with good character and strong academic backgrounds. They assist the students in their day to day activities in the school.
Just as in any secular institution, we offer CRK and IRK as subjects. Every student is at liberty to profess his or her religious ideals. So, our students are not coerced into believing or following a particular religious line of thought – both Muslim and Christian students coexisting with much respect for each other. At the end of every term, we grade academically and morally. And progress to the next class is dependent on these criteria.
What about the teaching staff?
As mentioned earlier, we do not compromise on quality and to remain above board in the field of teaching, quality of teaching staff must be taken seriously. As a result, our teachers are consistently trained and retrained on the modern pedagogy. In addition, we have an internal mechanism for monitoring and appraising our teachers. In fact, before you are employed as a teacher in any of our schools, you must also pass our moral test regardless of your educational qualification. There is also a feedback mechanism we have in place in grading our teachers. Now, you might want to ask why we do all of these. The answer is this; the NTIC brand was built from scratch, and one of the promises we made to our parents was that, not only would we ensure academic excellence for their wards, we would also ensure that they would come out as good and worthy ambassadors in the society. And as they say, trust is a burden. The burden is on us because parents and guardians have entrusted their children to us. And we have strived to keep that trust.
I think I should add that at NTIC, we believe that motivation is better than coercion in achieving set goals. We motivate our teachers to a great extent. In our school, only the best is good enough. Given this, teachers are regularly retrained on modern pedagogy. There is also a window of opportunities for self-development for teachers who wish to embark on further studies.
NTIC has been organising the national Mathematics competition for quite a while. What is the motivation?
One of our core mandates is to collaborate with the federal government of Nigeria in providing quality education to her citizens. And we have stayed faithful to this mandate. We have had collaborations with the relevant educational institutions in the country, but worthy of mentioning is the collaboration with the National Mathematical Centre (NMC) in organising annual mathematics competition for primary five and six pupils across the country. The 14th edition of the competition was organised in February this year, where over 34,000 primary school pupils nationwide participated. Out of this figure, 16 outstanding students were offered full scholarship into NTIC schools. This is aside the over 100 pupils that were offered various levels of scholarships. As you know, the importance of mathematics at every level of academic struggle cannot be over emphasised. So, we are simply motivated by our desire to promote teaching and learning of the subject. In addition to scholarship, we usually give out cash reward to schools and teachers of pupils who distinguish themselves in the competition.
In terms of security, there was a kidnap incident in one of your schools recently, what has the authorities done to forestall future recurrence?
Yes it is indeed very unfortunate but thank God our students were released unharmed. Actually, even before the incident, we have always paid utmost attention to security issues. To cut the story short, after that incident, the management engaged the services of some security experts to run a security audit of our schools, which they did and made recommendations. As we speak, those recommendations are being implemented. The management has on its own reviewed the security arrangement in all our schools. I bet if you go around our schools, you will be amazed at the level of security in place. For obvious reasons, I would not want to disclose some of the measures we have put in place. But I want to use this medium to assure parents that by the grace of God, that incident would not repeat itself.
Is it safe to say the NTIC brand is a huge success? Can you share some of your success stories?
First of all, the NTIC brand was built on high academic standards as I mentioned earlier and that is largely the story behind our success. However, success can only be measured by your track records and achievements. So the NTIC has a verifiable history. Just recently, we received a letter of commendation from the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology for producing the second youngest Nigerian scientist. Also, NTIC was proclaimed the best school in mathematics by the NMC. The Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka commended the NTIC community on their outstanding achievements in Nigeria. The NMC also expressed its satisfaction in collaborating with NTIC.
It is also worthy of mention that the NTIC is the pioneer organiser of the International Science Olympiad. We have represented Nigeria as ambassador in the field of education in the international arena. We won six gold, seven silver and 10 bronze medals in Pan-African Mathematics Olympiad this year. So far, we have in our kitty 205 international medals from the various international competitions that students of NTIC represented Nigeria. This reaffirms the fact that Nigeria can take a leading role in Africa and the world as a whole. NTIC as a school has been known for her success and excellent performance in national and international competitions. It has continued to produce champions who are competing favorably across the globe in their various fields of endeavors. In the 2016 edition of the National Science Olympiads, NTIC was awarded the best school in three categories following their outstanding performance.
Our primary objective is to prepare students for useful living within the society, and higher education. Specifically it seeks to provide all primary school leavers with the opportunity for education of higher level irrespective of sex, social status, religious or ethnic background. We offer a diversified curriculum to cater for differences in talents, opportunities, and future roles to provide trained workforce in applied science, technology, and commerce at sub-professional grades. We also take pride in our ex-students. The alumni department follows up on our former students to ensure that they pursue their careers in the most efficient manner. This quality relationship has made some alumni return after their studies and become part of the NTIC family.