When Old Students Give Back to MayFlower

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Tunde Bodunrin

Mayflower School Ikenne, in Ogun State is arguably one of the renowned secondary school in Nigeria. And this is due to Dr. Tai Solarin, the founder of the school. An educator, humanist and civil rights activicist, Solarin’s insistence on an educational philosophy grounded in self-reliance, self-sacrifice, public service and physical toughness accounts for this.

The school recently clocked 62 years and members of 93 set decided to celebrate the 62nd anniversary with the donation of a biology laboratory to their alma mater.

Commissioning the laboratory, the chairman of the anniversary, an Ex-May and former head of service of the federation, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, challenged stakeholders and communities to be more involved in the management and co-ownership of public schools in order to help schools in the country to an enviable status.

Professor Oladapo while emphasising that government must play its constitutional role of educating its citizens decried it inability to maintain good standard in both secondary and primary schools education. He then called on communities and stakeholders i.e. parents, old students and PTA to help and, work with government to get schools to proper standard.

Reminiscing about his time as a student in the school, Professor Afolabi said coming to Mayflower was an achievement at the time.“Dr Taye Solarin was building a model school and they had very good teachers, we were allowed to do all the physical things we could do and enjoy it”. He said students were also inspired to believe in them selves and the principles of self determination, self actualisation and great confidence right from that young age were things one should be proud of in a school like this.

Lamenting the state of infrastructure within the school, Professor Afolabi said “if in 1970, the facilities that we had were superior to what we have today, then it speaks volume, it means that we have a lot to do”.
He commended the sense of responsibilities and nostalgia of the old students in their efforts to bring back the school to its old glory and also encouraged other old students to do same in many schools in Nigeria that are getting run down.

The acting chairman of Ex-May, 93 set, Yewande Ogunnubi, while speaking at the occasion said the set was celebrating a milestone of 25 years of graduation from the school with the project.
According to Ogunnubi, although the set have been meeting and had reunions at different times, in terms of contributing to projects within the school, it started two years ago when the set donated a fully functional newly built toilet for the school. “And because this is our 25th anniversary, we thought that we needed to continue some of the works that we are doing. And for that reason, we put heads together, visited the school to find out what were the needs of the school”.

Ogunnubi who said absolutely nothing in the laboratory existed before now doubted if the students were being taught any practical. ”So what we have done was to do civil works of the building itself, we had to change tiles, the tables, the work benches etc. All the laboratory equipments have all been purchased”, she added.

To ensure the project is sustained, Mrs. Ogunnubi disclosed that there is a budget plan in place that ensures the school is visited twice a year for necessary restocking and, working closely with teachers in charge to ensure some level of maintenance”. She added that her set would take responsibilities of training the teachers from time to time by registering them for ongoing trainings. Also the set has put up a yearly scholarship plan for the best student in biology to encourage the students.

The national president of Mayflower Old student Association (MOSA), Chief Abiodun Shonibare, expressed his gratitude to all the Ex-Mays for ensuring the development of the school, noting that “government itself has said that you have to work on your school yourself”.

A biology teacher in the school, Mr Kayode Ogunlana, said words would not be enough to describe his joyous mood. According to him, “I’m highly impressed by what MOSA 93 has done to our biology laboratory. In fact, it is something we have been expecting for the past five years that I have been in this school but, we thank God that our expectations have become a reality today.”

Mentioning the items newly bought for the laboratory, Mr Ogunlana said “they are numerous, for instance, we have giant human skeleton, and we have the prototype, high power binocular microscope, monocular microscope, skull models and other skeletal models like the ears, hearts, eyes, skin, kidney, brain and many more. So also, we have more than enough charts that cover most of the topics to be taught. Also, we have the lab coats being supplied and some specimen for us preserved in the bottles, we also have some chemicals like ethanol, chloroform, benedict solution, glucose etc. and above all we have the first aid kit, we have goggle to protect our eyes when mixing chemicals etc”.

Other projects commissioned by Professor Afolabi included a block of two classrooms, wall of fame and a decent canteen.