These are, certainly, cheery times for the people of Cross River State. The administration of Prof. Ben Ayade is building a smart school in Obudu Local Government Area of the state.
Known as British/Canadian International School, it will be world-class, and there will be no class segregation.
Indeed, all over the state and beyond, the school, one of sterling the projects of the Ayade administration, is the talking point. And, considering the content and character of the project, the tourism industry in the state will receive a boost at the same time.
An indigene of the state, Prosper Ibu, said: “I think it could not have been otherwise, anyway. If you consider where the governor is coming from, as someone who knows the importance of quality education, no one would be surprised that he is paying special attention to his area of core competence.
“One has to doff his hat for the governor for building an international-standard school in Obudu. Interestingly, Obudu is home to the enchanting ranch. What this means is that, apart from the superstructure being erected, the students will also enjoy the privilege of studying in an exquisite environment, even outside the school premises. I believe this would also enhance the tourism and hospitality sector in the state.”
But as excited as she is, Gloria Bassey-Edet, a teacher, prays the people’s expectation doesn’t hang in the balance. She said: “The British/Canadian International School will definitely reposition the state. Experience has taught me that you can only give what you have. So, if someone promises to give you clothes, common sense demands that you should evaluate the type he is putting on, so as to know what he can give to you. The governor is a man of unrestricted education, so he knows the importance of education as a route to self-realisation. But my concern is that the project should not be abandoned for any reason. It should not be a white elephant. Let the governor hit the bull’s eye with this.”
Ayade is passionate about the project. Recently, he inspected the site and said: “I am pleased with the quality of work and not too happy with the speed. The idea of establishing this school arose from the challenges of quality education. I do know that painting classrooms does not change the quality of education, neither does it improve the quality and learning, hence my zeal to make a difference.
“We keep saying that education standard is falling, but how do we change it? If I take one classroom, let me do it properly so that when you are in the United Kingdom and you come here, you will say, wow, is this Nigeria?”
Indeed, the school is an exhaustively researched project. The governor volunteered that, before embarking on the project, he took a tour of some of the best schools in Britain and Canada. He also spent two weeks in the United Kingdom to be a part of the design of the project. The school, he said, would train and produce impeccable characters.
“There is no way a child will grow and study under this condition that he will not be responsible,” he said.
The governor also stated that the school was being built in partnership with the British Academy.
He explained that, “It has an administrative block, refectory, 24/7 Internet connectivity in the library, better laboratory furniture than those found in Nigerian universities and professionally-inclined white teachers that will be mixed race. So, this is like a mini university built for a junior secondary school.
“I don’t expect any quality of teaching better than what we have here and I don’t expect any junior secondary school to have the standard and quality of what I am building here because, as a professor, it is my responsibility to make a difference.
“Because of the sophistication of this institution, this will be one major school to beat in the entire state and it will produce future technocrats, ICT wizards and computer engineers will be trained here.”
The school is not exclusively for children from super-rich homes; it is a school for all. It is the student’s intellectual sagacity that will open the gates of admission for him or her.
“If you are an indigene of Cross River, once you pass your entrance into this school, your tuition is fully pre-paid, so the poorest man’s child, who is brilliant, can come to this school, but the entrance will be thorough. Once you attend a primary school, you write the entrance examination to the school and this will be done across Africa,” Ayade said.
One more thing: The approved standard of the school will not be compromised.
This assurance was given by the project contractor, Phil-El Okoye, who added that the community and workers enjoy a robust relationship.