Funso-Adegbola

Recently, wife of the Ondo State Governor, Mrs. Betty Rotimi-Akeredolu led other eminent Nigerians to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital to commission a modern four-storey edifice on the new permanent site of The Vale College, founded by Mrs. Funso Adegbola, nee Bola Ige. Funke Olaode reports

In his life time, the late Cicero of Esa-Oke and former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Ajibola Ige, SAN was an advocate of qualitative education for all, irrespective of your parental backgrounds. His legacy still resonates in the old Oyo State, which comprised Oyo and Osun, where he held sway as governor over three decades ago.

Outside office, Ige continued the gospel of free education. It was on record that Ige’s benevolence in providing free education paved the way for many eminent Nigerians, who are making waves in their endeavours.

Last year September, in celebration of the life and times of the late orator, Educare Trust in Collaboration with The Vale College Ibadan, organised the First Bola Ige Inter-Faculty Oratory Contest to mark his posthumous birthday. Ige died 15 years ago but one of his children has kept the light burning in the last 23 years, providing qualitative education to the teeming young Nigerians.

Thus, on Sunday September 17, 2017, dignitaries from all walks of life led by the wife of the Ondo State Governor, Mrs. Betty Rotimi-Akeredolu converged on Ibadan, the Oyo State capital to witness another milestone in the life of The Vale College, as it commissioned a modern four storey edifice on its permanent site located at Plot 6 & 7, Adebo Avenue, Iyaganku GRA, Ibadan.

The Vale College is a foremost co-educational institution founded by the eldest daughter of Bola Ige, Mrs. Funso Adegbola and has been in existence on Adetokunbo Ademola Avenue within the Iyaganku GRA. The management decided to extend its tentacles to its present permanent site in order to continue its history of excellence and knowledge.

Established by the Solemilia Educational Trust on November 7, 1994 as a private co-educational secondary school, it is designed to cater to the educational and pastoral needs of individuals from Grade 7 to Grade 12 (JSS1-SSS3).

The college is a Bible-based Christian school that values character building in young ones. The school also set out to make itself the first choice of parents and children, who seek excellent education – boarding or day – in a co-educational environment, based on its curriculum, discipline, independence of mind and service to the community.

And as part of its process to fulfilling its mission statement, the school runs broad curricula – the Nigerian and the British curricula – while public speaking and elocution, christian fellowship, leadership training and charitable activities have been part of the school programmes since inception in 1993.

Over the past 23 years, the school which resumed with 13 students and 10 teachers at its first premises in Old Bodija, where it remained till 1998, when it moved to Adetokunbo Ademola in Iyanganku GRA has recorded many feats.

Recalling the journey thus far, elated Adegbola said, “We have expanded over the years as new hostel facility, spacious enough to house 300 students was commissioned in 2007 as boys’ hostel and in 2013, another three storey building was commissioned in April 2013, which is currently the girls’ hostel. Today, we are celebrating the completion of a modern four-storey edifice which will accommodate all the classrooms, laboratories and offices.”

Adegbola, a lawyer-turned educationist, who has two degrees in Spanish and French from the University of Essex and a law degree from Bristol University both in United Kingdom, said The Vale College is a result of a dream given by God to raise men and women of knowledgeable and be of service to the community.

“I started my school as a 33-year-old with two little children: One is three years and the second is 11 months. I didn’t start it because of my children but God sent dream helpers all along the path of my life. I first shared the vision with my immediate late brother, Mr. Babatunde Ige, who died in his sleep in 1993. He never saw the physical manifestation of the college. And that is why I do a scholarship on his behalf every year.

“But after God, the greatest benefactors of this project were my parents. My father gave me the capital seed to start the school and my mother gave me her building to start the hostel. When I look back, it was a huge sacrifice on their part. This is a child, who is a lawyer coming out from doing law to dabble into education. So, they had faith in me and believed it was going to succeed. They supported me all the way. The next people I would say God has used to bless me is my staff. I have phenomenal staff.

“There are not many school owners that have a kind of committed and dedicated staff that I have. They run with the vision, which shows the hands of God. I have staffers that have worked with me for 20 years, 17 years and 16 years. The average number of years of my staff is eight years. I am blessed and count myself as extremely fortunate by the staff God has given me. The other people are the parents to have entrusted their kids in my care. It is an awesome responsibility that I don’t take for granted.”

Over the past two decades, the Adegbola wards have demonstrated excellence in their endeavours. A few years back, The Vale College had partnered a Balyesa State governor, who later became President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to provide education to Balyesa indigenes. Those under-privileged kids did not only excel at the college, they equally moved abroad for further studies. Also, fifty per cent of her former students are in Ivy League universities abroad, while a couple of them have graduated with First Class Degree in Law, Medicine, Engineering, Pharmacy and still counting.

“I am proud to say my students are making waves globally. One of them, Yewande Akinola received Queen Elizabeth II Award in 2012, as one of the best female engineers under 30 in the whole of UK. They do leadership programmes at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa. Two of my students have gone for the Yale Summer School. One took place in Ghana and the second took place in Rwanda, both scholarship funded. I have been to Harvard Business School, I have been to Lagos Business School, and I have sent my staff to Cambridge for training, Ghana for training. So, we do a lot of international exposure for both our students and teachers,”

On the efforts being made in impacting her immediate community, Adegbola said a few years ago that she started annual scholarship scheme in memory of her late parents, Bola/Atinuke Ige for children in public schools.

“Bola Ige scholarship is for students in public primary school in Oyo and Osun States. Every year, we give a scholarship for the best boy and girl through examinations: written and oral. The best two gets scholarship worth N12 million for the six years post primary education.

“Then I do another one under the Atinuke Ige Scholarships for students in public secondary schools. The best outstanding boy and girl in both Oyo and Osun States receive a scholarship worth N2 million to come to The Vale Tutorial College for their ‘A’ Levels for a period of one year. We have been doing that now in the past five years. They have done excellently well. I have three of them studying medicine in University of Ibadan.

“Maryam Adeyanju is currently studying medicine. Of significant note is that it is not an ordinary scholarship but an award that has transformed lives. For instance, the N12 million awards have benefitted pupils whose parents are bricklayers, tailors, bread seller. One of the students, Boluwatife, whose mother sells bread with a capital of less than three thousand naira made headlines in the papers last year when he won a scholarship worth N12 million.”

All these achievements, Adegbola said were made possible by exemplary Board of Governors that believes in her and her vision. The board of governors, for the first 20 years, was chaired by Chief Mrs. Christies Ade-Ajayi and now by Dr. Tony Marinho. Her husband, Mr. Gbenro Adegbola; the current governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu; Dr. (Mrs.) Ogunsanya, Mr. Asue Ighodalo, Mr. Niran Fafowora, Mrs. Tokunbo Ige, Dr. Titi Akingbogun and others too numerous to mention have stood by Adegbola, giving valuable advices and support – spiritual, financial and professional especially, architect Sukky Onadeko

Giving testimonies on how the school has transformed their lives, current students of the school, Oloni Oserogo and Biyi Campell commended the founder for keeping the vision of standard education alive. For Campbell, who came to the school timid in 2014, the excellence and knowledge he received has transformed him to be a leader and to raise his head high.

Speaking on behalf of the alumni, Jide Salami, who joined the school 17 years ago said apart from academic excellence inculcated into him, the family value system which TVC is known for has equally had positive impact on him. The vice-principal administration, Mr. Billy Oladimeji said the school has not only helped some of them to give their children sound education, it has also involved their lives positively.

The well attended ceremony was rounded up by Ven. Godwin Daramola, who admonished the management to keep the flag flying as it continues to churn out stars.