‘Contemporary pupils require practical example of application of knowledge’

Egbeyemi

Oyindamola Egbeyemi is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from Imperial College, London. Though she started her career as an engineer, she always had a passion for finding strategic solutions to problems, hence her move to the world of consulting at Accenture and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In this interview with UJUNWA ATUEYI, Egbeyemi, who joined her family business as the Executive Administrator of the Foreshore School, Ikoyi, said that schools must adopt a method of teaching and learning that actually transmits knowledge.

As a school administrator, what is it like switching career?
To be very honest, I thought it would be a career break from previous years as a consultant and my brief stint with engineering. It is very common to hear people in our society say, “Let me just establish a school, and then I would make money.” It is very much not the case at all. Running a school is hard work. Pretty much just like any other business, you have to sow hard to reap benefits. The only thing I would say that could give the perception of it being easy to manage a school is the guarantee of periodic cashflow in the form of termly school fees. However, if school owners and managers do not take care to monitor the operating costs effectively, they could get into serious trouble financially.

How do you mean?
Financial planning is an aspect of operations that is often neglected or taken for granted. The economic and business environments in Nigeria are not conducive at the moment. This makes it difficult to run a business, and private schools are no exception to this. Hence, despite the perceived certainty of income collection at schools, the lack of basic infrastructure such as power and water contribute to high operating costs.

In addition to this, quality schools use materials that are not locally available, including manpower. Hence the influence of foreign exchange becomes a critical factor to consider. What does it take to raise a 21st century child?
Creativity is extremely important to raise the 21st century child. It might sound simple, but creativity is a very complex matter, which these days, involves a whole lot of dynamism. The 21st century is a fast-paced environment and is not showing signs of slowing down in any way, shape or form whatsoever anytime soon. The children who are born in this era are automatically catapulted into this environment of vast technological advancement, increased social awareness and availability of information.

Children of today are therefore learning faster than the ones of 10 years ago. They are more socially aware of themselves and of the world around them and are more inquisitive. Hence, the method of teaching them has to meet their basic needs in the context of today’s world. Subject matter must be relevant, but more importantly creativity in the methodology for the delivery. The ‘old school’ method of teaching, which we are very much used to in Nigeria, is becoming irrelevant for today’s child.

Teaching by instruction will not work effectively and as a result will not produce a child who can stand among others in today’s world. Educationists need to understand and implement various methods of delivery. This requires: soundness in technological skill, ability to identify children’s unique ways of understanding and absorbing information, differentiation in teaching methods (even within one classroom) and the use of tools and equipment that give practical examples of the application of knowledge learnt from class in today’s world.

What do you find most challenging in grooming the present day kids?
I think that the amount of information that contemporary children have access to might be making them grow up a little faster than they should; or rather, they might think that they should grow up faster than they are. There are various effects that this could have on contemporary children. We need to remember that maturity has many facets, and truly is largely dependent on environmental factors. So, by virtue of today’s environment, there might be a conflict between people’s real life experiences affecting their level of maturity and their perceived experiences giving them a perception of reality.

So, when they do actually go out, they struggle with the real adversities of actual life, and they would struggle to handle themselves because they might even be conflicted within themselves, thinking that they knew how to handle issues (in theory), whereas, they don’t actually have enough exposure to handle themselves. So, in summary, I think that today’s media exposure poses a huge challenge, and we as educators, adults and mentors should make a bit of an effort to take these contemporary children away from what they see on media and show them what reality is physically.

The Foreshore School has gone through some dynamism over the years…
My mother, Mrs. Olubunmi Egbeyemi, established the Foreshore School 12 years ago. It was basically borne out of a strong passion for children. She comes from a family of educators. So, it is essentially a no-brainer that she herself is an educator. The school started as a preschool and nursery. It was actually called Tenderloving Childcare (TLC). The school was doing pretty well then, so people started to whisper the idea of expanding to a primary school tier into my mother’s ears. She eventually gave in and started the primary school about six years ago. She then renamed the school Tenderloving School (TLS). When I joined her at the school just over two years ago, we changed the name to The Foreshore School.

What’s the reason for the name-change?
Changing from TLC to TLS was the logical progression to mark the establishment of the primary school tier, like an indication of the next level of growth. However, for me, coming from the perspective of a consultant, branding was extremely important. I felt that the name did not speak well enough of a strong brand. I had, on a few occasions, heard of conversations about the name of the school making the school like it was “smaller” than it actually is both physically and in terms of its prestige.

I further tested this perception through a survey among the school community and the results revealed that this perception was in fact somewhat accurate. So, we had an overhaul of the brand, which included an anniversary dinner celebration (as this decision actually coincided with the school’s 10th year anniversary), a name change, a logo change and an update to the vision, mission and core values of the school. We have not looked back since.

Has anything else changed at the school now in line with this?
The school still maintains the quality of education that it has always provided, but in a more structured and strategic manner. Attention to detail is key and will always be, as we are building character and developing young minds. We will continue to do just that.

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