Wednesday, May 28, 2014 4:47 pm
Four indigent public school products in Ibadan emerge winners of the Ige Memorial Scholarship awards
Not many Nigerians believe in the quality of public school education today. This is understandable, because of the poor infrastructure, insufficient teachers and poor attention paid to such schools by government As a result, parents cough out a substantial portion of their income to send their children to private schools, with the expectation that such pupils/students will turn out better academically than their public school counterparts. But this assumption has been proven wrong in many instances, as many public school products given the opportunity have distinguished themselves.
One of such opportunities is being provided by the proprietress of The Vale College, Mrs. Funso Adegbola, who has instituted two scholarship schemes in honour of her late parents, Chief Bola Ige, former Minister of Justice and his wife, Justice Atinuke: one for primary six public school pupils to undergo secondary school eduation; and another for SS3 students to undergo Advanced level study.
The maiden edition of the Chief Bola Ige Memorial Scholarship for primary six pupils saw about 100 students from various schools in Ibadan competing for the two available slots, worth N12m each for their secondary school education. The contest was in two stages. The first, which was a written examination, produced 10 best students who competed for the second stage, which was oral. Two pupils, Master Folajuwon Ganiyu of Ayekale Community Primary School IV and Titi Josephine Friday of Command Primary School, Odogbo, emerged overall winners, scoring 106 and 95.36 respectively out of 150.
Also, Master Boluwatife Adewale and Miss Morufat Tijani, senior and health prefects respectively of Oladipo Alayande School of Science, Oke Ado, Ibadan, who scored 116.33 and 106.53 respectively, emerged winners of the Justice Atinuke Ige Memorial Scholarship, worth N2 million each.
Interestingly, all four winners, apart from aspiring to be medical doctors, come from very humble backgrounds. They were all described by their teachers, parents and school mates as brilliant and good students.
Folajuwon, 10, from Alafara Oje, one of the slums in Ibadan, lives with his father and four older siblings from a different mother (his mother is separated from his father). He was stunned when his name was announced on Saturday 10 May as the overall winner of the prestigious prize. At the event, his father, Mr. Suliaman Ganiyu, a land speculator, overwhelmed with joy, almost knocked the proprietress over as he tried to give her a bear hug in appreciation. Folajuwon noted that he had never dreamt of studying in a serene and conducive environment like The Vale College in his life. “It is the Lord’s doing and I will make sure that I do not disappoint the school and my family,” he gushed.
For nine-year-old Benue-born Titi, daughter of a staff sergeant in the Nigerian Army whose mother sells telephone recharge cards at home, life has not been a bed of roses. The second of five children living in a single-room apartment in the Army Barracks at Odogbo, Ibadan, described how tedious life has been. She lamented how her father, holder of a B.Sc in Computer Science, was being transferred from one place to the other without adequate provision for their family. “We have three beds that all of us share. One is for my dad and mum, three children share one while the remaining two children sleep on the third bed. I see my father once in four months. Whenever we are missing him, we will take his picture and be looking at it and it will look as if he is at home. We are always thinking about him, bothering about what is happening to him when he is not around,” she said.
Her mother, Mrs. Akogwu, an NCE holder, described Titi as a blessing to the family. She noted that marrying a soldier is a lifetime cross as they do not enjoy their husbands due to arbitrary transfer, without the family accompanying them. “This is the 16th year of my marriage. Marrying a soldier is a sacrifice. Most times, they are not around and one has to care for the children alone and I have been doing it since we got married. Sometimes I give birth when he is not around. We have gone through many things in life but God is using this opportunity to raise us. I give him the glory,” she said.
Head teacher, Command Primary School, Odogbo, Mrs. Theresa Olakitan Ayo-Vaughan and an English teacher in the school, Mr. Spencer Chande, described Titi as academically sound, composed, serious, teachable, obedient and an introvert who has won many academic awards in the school. Mrs. Vaughan called on other well-meaning Nigerians to emulate Mrs. Adegbola.
Morufat, 16 and third of five children whose parents both sell bread, said the family is struggling to survive. “Things are difficult. My father sells bread and my mother equally sells bread. The family survives on the proceeds we make from selling bread. There is no way my parents could have afforded such a school for any of their children and that is why I sincerely thank Bola Ige’s family for this scholarship,” she said.
Efforts to speak with Boluwatife proved abortive as he was not in school when our correspondent visited his school.
Mrs. Adegbola said her parents gave her the best education and the only way she could show gratitude to her parents was to give children from less privileged homes good education. She urged the winners in the two categories to make the best of the opportunity.