Iyiola Olatokunbo Edun: The Educator and Advocate for Women

Mrs Iyiola Olatokunbo Edun is the Executive Director, Grace Schools and official representative of the Loyalist College of Technology, Canada in Nigeria. Aside being an experienced educator, she is also an advocate for womanhood and the role they play both in the home and society at large. In this interview with MARY NNAH, she addressed the role of women in the society, impact of COVID-19 on learning, parental issues, among others

Mrs Iyiola Olatokunbo Edun is an educator per excellence and her antecedent is far reaching. Education-wise, she bagged a Bachelors of Arts Degree in History from the University of Kent at Canterbury and a Masters of Arts Degree in Comparative History from the University of Essex, all in the UK. She later completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Lagos.

Growing up

I was brought up by a very strict mother. My mother had strength in talking which she used in passing across key messages. My mum didn’t give anything on a platter of gold. She ensured that I work to earn whatever I deserve. I was exposed to several things through my mother and she ensured that I had the basic fundamentals of becoming a woman of repute. It has become imperative for women to create an enabling environment and monitor their children.

Role of Women in the Society

The role of women cut across the home and the society. It is also important for women to know the peculiarities of every individual child. Women should engage in profitable ventures and gain inspiration to live a fulfilled life. It is important for women never to be discouraged in any way. There are a myriad of challenges facing women in our society but women should not quit. I have had strong women in my life who have also provided the platform for me to rise beyond my challenges. My Master’s thesis was on women and how they cope with challenges and life in my life generally.

It is important for women to have confidence in themselves. Women should strive to be independent and never be a burden on society. In Nigeria, being a woman is at disadvantage because we are referred as second class citizens already. Women should also endeavour to obtain sound education, which no one can take away from them. They need to have the courage and confidence to face life. They should not see themselves as inferior in any way. Women should rise above inferiority complexes and occupy their place in society.

A lot of women are undergoing stress and they are unable to seek professional counsel and this causes serious threat to their health. They should belong to a network of positive women who can tackle challenges together and discuss issues.

Women should seek help when they have challenges. There are professionals to seek and find help from.

There are professional counsellors in churches. They should also engage in hobbies and some activities that will give them inspiration. The older women should also provide counselling for the younger ones in order to support them in life.

Measures in Enhancing the Learning Process

We have embarked on several measures to accelerate learning and deliver qualitative teaching for our students. COVID-19 has also enabled us to be more proactive and dynamic in our teaching endeavour. We had to adopt three approaches as students were not forced to come to school.

The three learning methods are online , Hybrid- three days in school, two at home and five days physical attendance in school. The strategy we adopted was the use of questionnaires for parents to choose what they want. The fees were different and they had choices. Basically learning remains the same thing but it is now left to parents to supervise their children.

Huge Cost of COVID -19

It should not be overemphasised that COVID-19 pandemic affected schools more than any other sector. We invested huge sums of money on data for our teachers. We also had to procure Germicidal lamps from overseas. We paid in dollars and they came through courier in order to facilitate speedy delivery.

We obtained the lamps before school resumed and they were fixed in all the classrooms. We also invested a lot of funds in sanitising the entire school compound. We had to invest huge funds with the view to cushion the effects of COVID-19. The school had to stop some extra-curricular activities to aid social distancing.

Impact of COVID-19 on Learning

Before the advent of COVID-19, we actually prepared about the possibility of setting up online learning schooling for our students. We started the test run already before lockdown and it now launched the school into a new technology. We already installed things and the process commenced with the training of all our teachers. There were some teething problems associated with such novel ideas but we were able to overcome them.

Some parents were not patient during this period but it eventually became a success. It is an innovation we adapted to aid learning and facilitate the teaching process. Some of the students also took time to get accustomed to it but eventually, they enjoy the system better through interactions and engagement sessions with their peers online.

It is impressive to note that some of the students even in primary school developed their own videos and started their own YouTube channels. These are primary school pupils who are brilliant. The students are more independent and more technically sound. I joined some of the classes through zoom. It was a great experience.

The investment in ICT has impacted positively on our students as well as our teachers. The role of Technology cannot be underestimated in view of its relevance to accelerate the learning process.

Parental Roles and Responsibilities

Parents need to be alive to their responsibilities. A lot of Nigerian parents have abandoned their functions to the school. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach children basic values such as politeness and courtesy. It should be emphasized that the school is meant to reinforce the training parents give their children. Parents should not abdicate their responsibilities to the school. Parents should teach their children basic values so that schools can deliver qualitative learning.

Charity actually begins at home. Parents blame schools for performance but they also need to be involved in the learning process. It has been observed over time that parents are nonchalant about the performance of their children academically. The other side of it is that they (Parents) blame the school while neglecting their own roles and responsibilities.

Parents need to exercise patience in rating schools and this is more of a Nigerian mentality as parents are quick to blame schools for poor standards. Teachers need to be accorded respect as we are more like parents to the children.

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