‘Alumni association should support efforts of government to develop schools’

Ananti

Barrister Vincent Anati is the fourth National President of Oraukwu Grammar School Old Boys’ Association, a foremost secondary school in Anambra State established in February, 1959. In this interview with VICTOR GBONEGUN, he underscores the role of old boys in school development connecting this with the institutions’ 60th anniversary holding today at the school’s premises in Oraukwu, Idemili North Local Council of Anambra State.

The association is marking the 60th anniversary, what are you doing differently from past celebrations and what should be the role of old boys’ association in school’s development?
First, it provides a platform for a re-union of the old boys. That is, ex-students coming together. In the words of Tryon Edwards, “Every parting is a form of death as every reunion is a type of heaven” and so the gathering would provide an opportunity for those who last met about 40 or 50 years ago, since they left the school. Some haven’t met since then.

For the school, we have discussed so far how the institution was doing very well in the early 60’s and 70’s. We have also discussed how urban migration has affected the school like its rural counterparts, which have gone down in terms of infrastructure, before the government of Peter Obi of Anambra State returned the school to the mission.

We, as old boys, will support the efforts of government to restore the lost glory of our school and bring it back to the position it was before and even boost it because of the digital age the society has developed into. Alumni association needs to support efforts of government to develop schools. This year, we want to celebrate our past while we also focus on the future of the school.

Focusing on the future will enable us to increase the number of students. During the anniversary, we have some projects that have been completed, such as dormitory, furnished with water and light, that will attract more students.

For teachers, we have projects completed as well as on-going ones that would make accommodation for them comfortable.

In academics, apart from the teachers who are paid by the government, we, as old boys, have engaged some retired professional teachers in key subjects such as English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology to augment efforts of the other teachers so that the pupils would continue to excel, both in academic and in morals.

So, all the past students are happy and excited to celebrate their alma mater and the fountain of their knowledge. The school has produced people, who have excelled in arts, science, medicine, engineering, law and even in sporting activities all over the world. These people have distinguished themselves.

The anniversary is a time to come together and say “thank you” to our school and to thank our teachers. It is also an avenue to remember those who are no longer around, starting from the founding principal, who laid the foundation of the institution and kept it in the same pedestal with other leading schools then. The old boys will use the opportunity to reflect on our days in the school as well.

In terms of facilities, we want to position the school in such a way that it would continue to grow in leaps and bounds in all aspect of life.
What informed the choice of April 20 for the anniversary?

Oraukwu Grammar School clocked 60-years in February but we had to make it convenient for our members to attend and so we had to take Easter holiday, so that it will be easy for a good number of our old boys, friends and well-wishers to attend the ceremony, which is taking place at the school premises located at Oraukwu, Idemili North Local Council of Anambra state.

How many students are benefitting from the scholarship scheme put in place by the old boys ?
Many of the old boys have instituted scholarships for students, who excel in different academic subjects. Some are sponsoring the best students in Physics, Chemistry and Additional Mathematics beyond the secondary school to university level. Some of them have passed JAMB from junior secondary school.

Why do you think makes some old boys not to be part of the association?
Well, gratitude comes from the heart. Just like human beings, some are grateful while others are not. Those who are coming together are doing so because they have that sense of gratitude for an institution that brought them up. I recall that when we started the association, only few members were involved but thank God, we have an increase in number.

Our association even spread to the United States of America, Canada as well as the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. These people have also key into what we are doing. Their interest has been agitated and while we work hard, we believed that with time, those who are still watching would join us.

How are you encouraging the current set of students to join the association when they complete their programme in the school?
We have made special arrangement for the students to stay around for one week after schools in Anambra State have officially closed so that the students will witness the celebration. We believe that when they see us celebrating and sharing all that members have attained in life, it would inspire them to work hard and realise that they can get something good from the school. For me, it is a way of inspiring the students.

What is the contribution of the traditional institution in Oraukwu to the school?
In 2010 when we celebrated the school at 50, we had a courtesy call on the traditional ruler of the community who is late now. This time, we have a traditional ruler who happens to be an old boy of 1979 set and so it is a double celebration because we are celebrating him as a traditional ruler on one hand and also celebrating him as one of us on the other. He is always in tune with our activities, attends our meetings and in any areas like security when we have difficulty, he involves the community’s vigilance group to help in strengthening security in the school.

Are there challenges encountered in organising the epoch-making event?
We didn’t have much constraint because we started on time. We have branches in Lagos, Port-Harcourt,Onitsha, Awka, Abuja and Aguwata and we have been holding yearly meetings for the past three years, sensitising members about this event. We are excited about the interest of our members because they have contributed so much and so we are going to come out big.

After the anniversary, we have a two storey, six flat building that we will be embarking on which will accommodate at least six resident teachers. This will further strengthen our drive to boost quality of teaching in the school.

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