Mrs. Onyeka Jaibvo-Ojigbo, a passionate educator and an entrepreneur, is set to provide a number of skill competencies training, capacity building, professional recognition and networking to over 2,000 Nigerian teachers this month through her initiative, International Educational Management Network, a leading educational advocacy group and think-tank. In this interview with MARY NNAH, she revealed the mission behind the initiative and how she has been able to thrive so far. Excerpts:
What are the objectives for establishing the International Educational Management Network?
International Educational Management Network (IEDUMAN) is an educational movement that promotes global practices and intellectual understanding amongst educational professionals. It has been our tradition since we started, every year, we roll out a programme, and something we think is going to impact or change the way we do things in our educational sector. It is obvious that there is a crack in the wall of education in this nation, and everyone is blaming one another without proffering solutions. We have left so much to the government and we forget that our children are the beneficiaries of the system. Many of our leaders’ children are not schooling within Nigeria and the rest of us cannot afford education outside the country. So, are we going to remain stuck? As part of our duty, we are trying to provide a platform, where we can all come as professionals, look at what is going on, discuss it and proffer workable solutions.
Most times, we talk and there is no follow-up action, and if you really want to follow up, how much finance do you have to embark on it? You can’t save the world but we believe that we can, at least, lend our voice and save a portion of the world that we can save.
IEDUMAN is charged with empowering and providing support to educators via a database of resources, in addition to fostering connections at our EDUFAIR workshop. We want to be agents for change in the educational sector in Nigeria by providing high quality, impactful resources that educational professionals can use as a catalyst for change within their ecosystems. IEDUMAN aims to provide a platform that brings together educational professionals like Lecturers, Training Consultants, School Directors and Educational IT Providers, to advise, research and advocate for best practices within our educational institutions and help improve processes and produce positive outcomes.
In what particular ways are pushing to ensure we have quality teachers in Nigeria?
The Teacher’s Registration Council is like a regulating body for teachers. You are supposed to be qualified for you to be registered as a teacher. That means you are certified and qualified to teach in any of the institutions you are working in. With the same Nigerian peculiar problem, there is no adequate monitoring in that area. How many professional teachers do we have in the country? We are also trying to bring those statistics out. We are trying to get this information so that whatever we are talking to government on, we know we have the right statistics.
What is happening now is that when people are not getting jobs, they will just decide to go and teach. There is a huge difference between just teaching and having a qualified teacher teaching you. It is a qualified teacher that will understand how to manage class and how to deliver that topic. Sadly, what you find now is that any graduate can teach which we know is not right. If graduates want to teach, they can be trained. So these are some of the things we are discussing with the Teacher’s Registration Council. We want to help them to monitor and screen these teachers again to know if they really have what it takes to teach these teachers because it is not enough to say people are failing West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
How have you taught them and why are they failing it? So if we are able to do this, we will not change it overnight but I know it will eventually change. People will understand that if you have to teach primary school, there are certain requirements you must meet. We have the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) and they do weekend and distance learning. For every level, there will be provision to train you and make you competent to be a Nigerian teacher.
How do you ensure that those teachers trained are living up to your expectations?
IEDUMAN is private sector driven. It is not our responsibility to go and evaluate teachers’ performances in their classes. We are open to everyone; people can give us a call or meet with us. Regarding the solutions, intervention and empowerment we have provided for them, we are going to design a lot of survey to get feedback to help us know relevant areas where we can improve.
The Teachers’ award we are having this year will also help as a form of evaluation because if you come from Surulere or Ikeja and pick maybe two teachers from your school and say they did excellently well, people will want to send their students to such schools and other schools will start to compete. So that award will help encourage other teachers. Former Governor Fashola did something like that. He was giving vehicles to teachers who did well and somehow, teachers started coming to school early in Lagos State. By 7 o’clock they are already in school. They are well dressed and they are teaching. They weren’t doing that until the car award started. So, such award is also going to help in evaluating and on a larger scale, when you begin to see that people are passing WAEC and Common Entrance, you will know that there is something that is happening differently.
What are your activities like this year?
This year, we are going to focus on the Nigerian Teachers’ Skill Project. We are going to work with many teachers from nursery, primary, and secondary schools. That is the basics of education. If the foundation is right and well-laid, the building will stand much stronger. The Nigerian Teachers’ Skill project is essentially focused on teachers in the foundation stages of education. We will talk to them about professionalism and offer training and anything we know to make them perform their duties better.
We have already concluded plans to hold an Eduskills Fair, one of the single largest convergence and exhibition by vocational education practitioners (Edupreneurs) on May 31 at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
We will do them in segments. We will segment the schools and the areas we want to cover. Later we will have the Edu Skill Fare. This year we want to do it differently. We would get people who have skills and people with educational resources to come together and show their skills for people to learn. We will do some training on skills and vocations, and hold seminars and exhibitions where people will come and exhibit, buy and be part of what is going on. Later in the year, we will have our annual conference and we are planning to get all the professionals both those partnering with us and the ones who we know have things to offer in this sector. Sometime in June this year, we want to get everybody together to network and sit down to discuss what we have done differently this year, what is improving and what needs more improvement in the education sector. We have set these goals and as time go on and more people are keying into the vision, we will come up with more programmes in the future.
What are your goals for IEDUMAN in few years to come?
People need to be continuously educated; they need to always be aware of what is going on. It is a global village now and we can’t be left out. So, in the next five years, I would like to see a well-equipped, functional Educational Resource Centre. As a teacher, you can just work into the centre and spend like 30minutes and you get what you want. This is what is lacking in Nigeria. In In most developed countries, they have this. The world is now a global village, we should not be left out. We need to continuously train ourselves, get information and look at how things are working in other parts of the world. Educational resource centre is key. It is a five year project and that is part of the things we are pushing our partners to do. When we have one Educational resource centre in one State, other States should key in.
How have you been able to manage IEDUMAN and your family without any one of them having to suffer?
Teaching is a passion for me. I’m so passionate about education. I come from a background of all teachers. Everybody in my family is a teacher, so I grew up loving the profession. In our days, things were not like they are now. When you go to school, you are serious to study. There was nothing like going to buy hand-outs. I decided to go into education fully. At first, I wanted to just shut the school and just run away. I actually shut down the secondary school and I don’t think I want to do that for now. I had my reason for just focusing on primary school. I saw so many things and I wondered why things had become this way. That became a drive for me. When I talk to people who own schools, some of them tell me not to worry, that I should just manage. I am not the type to manage, I have to speak out. For instance when parents get angry that you failed their kids, they move the child to another school. I couldn’t get over that. I however insisted on failing students that didn’t do well and if the parents liked they can move them away. These were the things that bothered me and I thought few of us should address this problem. It may look like it is a few of us but before you know it, more people will join us. We still have numbers in my school because there are still people who believe in what we are doing.