Olawale Ajimotokan writes about an Abuja-based resource centre that wants to impart life skills in children through reading, mentorship and internship

Adeola Remi-John is charting new frontiers by focusing on the transformation of youths of secondary school age through her model Sages and Scholars Life Camp Academy in Abuja.
The resource centre was set up on May 1, 2017 as a place where the youths can learn new things and are taught to improve and develop themselves by imbibing life skills.

Remi-John established the institution as an after school class and a club where children are provided with extra activities and extra coaching in core educational programmes like Mathematics and English Language besides preparatory sessions for students sitting for the West African School Certificate and GCE OL examinations.

The interview with the reporter was fortuitous and at the same time revealing. Remi-John took time to explain the underlying philosophy of her niche and overall expectations for the centre she flaunted as a place where all round learning of different dimensions take place.

“This place is an after school, book reading club. We organise activities and is also a place where people can come. It is like an educational resource centre, where they can borrow books and learn. We hope that in the future, we can even organise quizzes and may be, essay presentations for students that fall in love with learning and want to know more,” she said.

The Book Club is a free class held every Saturday afternoon for senior secondary school students. It encourages and exposes the participants to develop interest for reading in particular poetry and literature.

She noted that the Book Club will allow children overcome the discouragement that usually creeps in the moment a big book is placed before them. Once they join the Book Club they will be split into groups where they will discuss, critique, analyse and hone their public speaking skills.

“We have identified a target market for the Book Club. I expect that some of the public schools around that need support in English and Literature in a relaxed way can come and pick a book and read. This Saturday programme is free and is an interactive programme. It is our way of giving back to the society.”
She stressed the need for children of nowadays to be supported in areas where they need to develop because they are easily distracted by computer games and the social media.

Although she has not practised as a teacher, Remi-John has a certificate in Montessori Education from a six-month course she undertook from an institute in India about five years ago.

And in term of working with youth, during her undergraduate days, she belonged to a fellowship that catered for children for her volunteer experience.
She did that for five years and after she got married she was put in charge of the children section at her church.
Remi-John is a graduate of Electrical Electronics Engineering from University of Ibadan. Her career in the corporate world spans over 13 years with experience in Health Safety and Environment, Quality Management, Sales and Marketing and ISO audits.
She holds a certificate in Technology, Operations and Value Chain management from MIT Sloan School of Management and is an alumnus of the Owner Management Programme of the Lagos Business School (OMP17).
After voluntarily leaving the corporate world, she deftly put her experience into practice by delving into management consulting, logistics and supply chain, brick and mortar and online retail sales.

She constantly keeps herself busy by learning new things and sharing new ideas with like-minded knowledge seekers. Her most recent foray into the world of academics earned her an MBA (Distinction) in Global Business from Coventry University London Campus, UK.

Her impressive profile spanning the corporate terrain over the years, appeared to have prepared her for the big strides she is now making. That aside, she derives fulfillment that what she wrote as her MBA business plan is now what is being implemented with the youth empowerment plan.

But the scope of Sages and Scholars Academy is broader and beyond the scope of the Book Club where the ability of students to pick up and read books is developed.
Early this month, the academy started an intensive empowerment programme for JS3 graduates to prepare them for the transition to SS after the long holiday.

The daily programme, Brains ‘n’ Skills Boot-camp that will stretch through August 25, will arm the students with knowledge in the creative art, language, music, photography, gastronomy, fashion, website designing, coding and programming.

The empowerment sessions that attract registration fee will also dovetail into internship and mentoring where the participants will be attached to tutors in practical work environments for a feel of experience of professional side of their chosen skills.
The proprietor said the career counselling sessions will enable the participants to be paired with mentors in their chosen fields where they can have one session to and follow up beyond the book camp period.

One of the kids, Vivian Etim Edem, a 14-year- old Senior Secondary School student of Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, said her stint at the academy would expose her to different skills.
She said she wants to become a successful medical doctor in the future.
Edem said the programme has impacted on her learning skills and has enabled her to learn all the different crafts.
“I learned that with hard work, you can become what you want to be and be successful in your profession, ” she said.

Another member of the Book Club, Njokanma Eluemumo said the different programmes on career flight for children have allowed her to be self-confident.
The 13- year-old student of Loyola Jesuit College said after the stint at the academy, she hopes to make her own website and learn how to develop applications.
“I attended the programme last week and I gained a lot. I am now confident in myself, “the junior secondary school student gushed.

Remi-John said the scheme would provide an avenue for the children not to be idle at home as they would use the free time to equip and develop themselves, acquiring some skills that will prepare them for life in a rewarding environment.
She said the academy is equipped to admit the most of 40 to 50 apprentices to make the programme flexible given that they would be moved around classes and shuffled between programmes.

According to her, resource persons in diverse fields will handle the skills acquisition programmes in photography, make up artistry, bead making and web design. Regular school subjects will be handled by experienced teachers.

“We want to ensure that when they leave their parents, for whatever number of days they are away, they will have a full grasp of what the society expects and what I call survival skills for their particular age or the expectation of their age. We want them to have respect for elders, etiquettes, be able to speak well, and above all, self-confidence. You also wonder that some children these days do not really know how to sweep the floor and how to help at home because we have so much indulged them,” she said.
When pressed for the motivation behind her passion, she hinged it on her love for children. She also revealed her happy childhood growing up in a university environment that allowed education to be done with utmost comfort.

“Children of these days should also have that kind of privilege and opportunity where they can enjoy all the right resources. My father was a lecturer and my mother was a teacher. But right now parents are busy looking for money everywhere and are delegating their responsibility to others because of lack of time.”

Remi-John summed up the interview projecting her expectations from the children development programme.
She expects that whenever the products of Sages and Scholars are asked, they should say without hesitation, that they passed through the academy. She also added that they should be able to grow up to be independent children reflecting the centre’s motto: ‘To develop knowledge and skills in books and life’.