By Kehinde Aderemi
Last month, Corona Secondary School, a notable post primary education institution in Nigeria, became a member of New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), an international non-profit association founded in 1885 in the United States. It was the first school in the country and the second in Africa to achieve the feat.
At a meeting with journalists last week, chairman of the school’s Trustee Council, Hon. Justice Bukunola Adebiyi, the school CEO, Mrs. Adeyoyin Adesina, and other top officials of the school enthused that the achievement would naturally spur Corona to greater heights.
Indeed, it was gathered that Corona School had been one of the foremost high schools in the country. In the recently released 2017 WAEC results, none of the students, the reporter learnt, scored less than 86 per cent. Besides being the first school in Africa to get e-learning, Corona, in 2015, was one of the three finalists in the international secondary school competition, involving schools from all the major continents.
Hon. Justice Bukunola Adebiyi was a pioneer pupil of the school in 1962. On the membership of the NEASC, he noted: “Initially, we were sceptical about the benefit, but having looked at the history of that association, we saw it as an opportunity to challenge ourselves to be able to deliver world class education. At each visit the NEASC came, they met us on ground as the Chairman of the Secondary School Board. They wanted to know how much support the board was given and how the board was reacting to all the comments being made. We all felt that it will help us to pull the school to international standard.”
He praised the board for providing strategic direction and funding whenever the management demanded such.
“We encouraged ourselves as management to keep going. Mrs. Adesina, the present CEO was part of the secondary school at a time. She was head of the secondary school.”
So how was the NEASC accreditation secured? The principal, Corona Secondary School, Mrs. Chinedum Oluwadamilola said the process commenced four years ago.
She explained: “At the time I got to the secondary school, the process had started and of course, we continued the process because there were lots of things to put in place. We had to look at the infrastructure, the curriculum, teaching and learning, safety, policies, the governance structure and our financial standing. They needed assurance that there would be continuity in funding for the school to continue to grow.
“We had a steering committee led by the Vice- principal Pastoral (Welfare), Mr. Paul Obah and the Secretary, Mr. Anthony Ilobinso. The process continued and in all, there were four visits. The major one was the Self Study visit where they put together six members from Turkey, China, UK, USA, Ghana and Tunisia to come here and look at all the areas. They were with us for five days. They came with a wealth of experience. Following that visit, they pointed to areas that needed improvement. And after the May visit, they gave us the accreditation in June.”
Mrs. Adesina, the school’s CEO, said there would be post accreditation visits from the NEASC, noting that the school would never rest on its oars.
“The next one is in three years,” she noted. “It has helped us to look inward. Every member of staff and every student was part of the process.”
She observed that the success story being recorded was due to the school’s professionalism and commitment to staff welfare.
“The school cares for the financial and professional development of staff. Corona is not owned by an individual: it is owned by the trustee. We have some staff who have worked here for over 24 years. The organisation and ownership structure makes it a very strong brand. It is a trust and it doesn’t belong to anybody. The fact that it is a trust is such that all employees in Corona are stakeholders. It is a non-profit sharing organisation and that makes it stable. And members of the trust councils are drawn from reputable accomplished men and women who volunteer to be council members. It is a legacy that we want it to succeed and we continue to maintain a high standard.”
Representatives of the parents, Mr. Bolaji Okoya, asserted that the school’s commitment to excellence was his sole reason for sending his children there. I am here today because NEASC accreditation has once again defined what Corona stands for. It means a lot and the fact that it is a thing of pride and joy to be associated with,” he said.
Chairman, Steering Committee NEASC, Paul Obah said the accreditation process was necessary to enable the school compete with any other Ivy League school across the globe. “As a proudly Nigerian school, we wanted our students to compete and fit in perfectly wherever they find themselves globally. Presently, we have a delegation of our students in the USA, attending the Global Youth’s Leadership Conference. Over the years, we have attended a couple of conferences and came back with awards. Two of our outstanding students were invited to the inauguration of President Donald Trump as special guests,” he noted.
A biology teacher and secretary, Steering Committee, NEASC, Anthony Ilobinso, said he had remained at Corona because of the commitment to providing excellence. “This process of NEASC is an exposure and has helped me improve myself and has more holistic approach to how the school functions. The process for us is a very thorough one, a very comprehensive one. The academic transcripts of our children have a global appeal. Now, in the education industry, Corona has taken its place as a leader,” he concluded.