Having attained the official retirement age of 60, the Principal of King’s College, Lagos, Kolawole Issac Sola is ready to bid the civil service farewell. He shared his 35 years’ experience and future plans with Uchechukwu Nnaike, just as he proffered solutions to some of the challenges confronting education in the country
Among other legacies that he wishes to be remembered for as he exits the civil service is the fact that he facilitated the positive transformation and development of schools he had worked in.
The outgoing Principal of King’s College, Lagos, Kolawole Issac Sola, who recently attained the statutory years of retirement- 60- after 35 years of active service, recalled with nostalgia some of his contributions and the impact he made at the schools he worked.
Sola, who took up appointment with the Federal Ministry of Education on November 6, 1984, said he first worked at the Federal Government College, Ogbomosho, Oyo State as a classroom teacher, a form teacher and sports officer from 1984 and 1991.
From 1991 to 2006, he said he worked at the Federal Government College, Ijanikin, Lagos State and has no regret spending the bulk of his service career there serving at different times as transport officer, boarding house staff, senior boarding house officer, as well as the project officer.
As the project officer, he said he influenced a lot of projects at the school such as the fencing of the girls’ hostel to provide additional security, adding that he designed the sports field and was instrumental to the building of the sports pavilion; influenced the deployment of female staff to boys’ hostel as house mistresses; facilitated the donation of a bus to the school by the PTA; introduced living in the hostel according to classes, among other reforms that were sustained at the school.
From 2006 to 2008, he served as Vice-Principal Admin II at the Federal Government Boys College, Apo, Abuja, where he computerised the entire school result, among other reforms and achievements.
He was transferred to Federal Government College Ikole-Ekiti in 2008 and was there till 2010, when he was moved back to Apo as vice-principal.
In 2011, he said he was posted to Federal Government College Okposi, Ebonyi State as principal, where he met a dilapidated school, and embarked on massive renovation and transformation with the help of other members of staff.
Sola said on assumption, the school recorded 25 per cent pass in WAEC result and he promised to move the result to 80 per cent before leaving, adding that he surpassed that projection because the school achieved 92.8 per cent by the time he was leaving was ranked one of the best 10 unity schools in the country, among other achievements.
In 2015, he said he was transferred back to Ikole-Ekiti as principal, where he improved on the existing standard and when he was leaving the school in 2018, the result of the 2017 WAEC exam was 98 per cent. Then he was moved to King’s College on March 5 2018, where he made an impact within the one year he spent at the school.
He said he was able to convince the old boys to come shelve the idea of taking over the school, but to collaborate with the government in restoring the glory of the school and they bought into the idea and various sets have identified projects to execute in the school ahead of the school’s 110th anniversary in September.
On his part, Sola said he focussed more on the junior students and has imbibed in them the culture of discipline and cleanliness, aside renovating their hostels and classrooms, among other projects.
He said he want to be remembered by all the legacies he left in the school and expressed hope that his successor would sustain them.
On his plans after retirement, he said he would retire to his farm, adding that he plans to run a consultancy outfit on education and probably float a non-governmental organisation that will create political awareness. “We need to educate the electorate on how to make decisions.”
In his opinion the greatest strength of the unity colleges is the unity of purpose because “we are championing the same agenda under the same umbrella, under the same authority using the same rules and regulations and bringing children from various backgrounds regardless of their socio-economic status under one umbrella to see themselves as Nigerians.”
However, he said some of the challenges confronting unity schools are inadequate members of teaching staff. “King’s College has the highest number of PTA-paid teacher about 80 of them. I am happy that the Federal Ministry of Education is making arrangement with the Federal Civil Service Commission to ensure that some of these PTA teachers are absorbed into the system on a permanent basis.
“Then another major challenge is the attitude of parents, they seem to believe their children rather than believing the school authority. There are certain things that if they are not approached with maturity can bring about crisis. Parent should crosscheck what their children are telling them with the school management to avoid crisis.
“I will also talk about funding; the federal government is trying, I know government cannot provide everything we need in the school, but there is need to beef up budgetary allocation, particularly to King’s College, which operates from two campuses and these two campuses by virtue of our environmental challenges, are below sea level. So there are a lot of things that we need to cope with,” he said.
He noted that the current administration is worried about the state of infrastructures in unity colleges, which was why there were a lot of federal government interventions in the 2018 budget, adding that King’s College is one of the beneficiaries. “We are benefitting from the security intervention by the Federal Ministry of Education.”
He expressed hope that by the time the 2019 budget is approved, there would be more interventions by the federal government.
On how more females can be encouraged to study science-related courses, Sola said it is by providing the basic facilities for the teaching of sciences.
“Teaching is no longer stereotyped, that is my worry to that in Nigeria, we are still behind the world. By now, we are supposed to be practicing the integrated learning approach, where there are interactive boards in all classrooms and students are with their tablets, sitting arrangement changed then teachers will assume the role of facilitators of learning.
The students are supposed to be doing many things on their own. By so doing, more girls will be encouraged to take to science rather than looking at it from the abstract point of view. If the basic facilities are provided, it will serve as impetus,” he said.
He also stressed the need for teachers to embrace self-development if they wish to remain relevant in the ever-changing world.