By Perpetua Egesimba
The declining academic performance of students in the secondary education stage is said to be responsible for the low success rate recorded in secondary school examinations conducted by the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO).
The founder of Positive Growth Africa and convener of the Students’ Fortress Conference, Mr. Babs Olugbemi, stated this during the recent unveiling of the club for students of Education District 1, Agege, Lagos. He said that failure in secondary school exams and other exams like ICAN prompted him to start the initiative.
“We are unveiling the Students’ Fortress Club that will start in 99 schools in Lagos State Education District 1,” he said. “The club is an academic one. The students will mentor one another. We are also promoting it online, a management system where all the students will also be effective. So, we expect that this will change their results in their external examinations. We also expect the students to learn life and leadership skills through the club. And this will be a sustainable conference.”
He explained that every economy is driven by the total productivity of its workforce, including the learning productivity of the youth, adding that the learning attitude and quality of the students and the youths are major drivers of the quality of the future workforce.
On the challenges he encountered during the setting up of the club, Olugbemi said he searched effortlessly for sponsors but failed until Honeywell came on board and others later joined. He said he was determined because wherever there is a will, there is always a way.
The launch was graced by the Director, Administration and Human Resources, Mrs. Omolara Akin-Aderibigbe, who represented the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule. She commended the initiative, saying it would propel students to do better in their academics and also to be great leaders of tomorrow.
The Tutor General and Permanent Secretary of Education District 1, Agege, Dr. Yinka Ayandele, explained that without highly educated, literate, skilled, brilliant and self-confident youth, Nigeria would be toying with her future and undermining her existential capacity. She added that the state government has actually done a lot in terms of providing infrastructure in schools and applauded the club for creating a platform where the students would mentor one another.
The keynote speaker, Fela Durotoye, Chief Executive Officer Gemstone Group, explained that the states that have high literacy level tend to fare better in development than those ones that rank low. “States where majority of the people have been able to learn, seem to have a stronger economy,” he said.
Elder Felix Ohiwerei, former Chairman of Nigerian Breweries who was the special guest of honour, expressed hope that the club would achieve its aim and advised other education districts in the state and the country at large to key into the initiative.
“With this kind of programme, the students will have a chance to improve on what they learnt in the classroom, a chance of interacting with other students, a chance to be mentored because there will be a tutor for each subject,” he said. “They have a chance of improving themselves over and above what they learnt in the classroom and the message is very clear: this is just one district in the state, others should follow. My advice is for this to be replicated in other districts but in any case, it’s online so anybody can key into it.”