Good Samaritan adding value to learning in Nigeria
With the worsening decay plaguing the country’s education system, and the consequent surge in the search for quality education abroad by Nigerians, an American group, The Good Samaritan Society of America (TGSSA), has set up Bethel American International School (BAIS), which it describes as a “classical Christian school of excellence.”
According to its promoters, the school aims to add value to the sector by providing quality and affordable education to the average Nigerian child.
The trivium, which the school that offers a combination of American and Nigerian curricula, and boasts a good number of American teachers/staff subscribes to, ensures that the early years of school are spent in absorbing facts and systematically laying the foundations for advanced study.
The three-part process of training the mind also ensures that in the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments, while in the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.
Classical education varies considerably from conventional education. It lends itself to a different metaphysical paradigm (i.e. it holds different assumptions about the nature of reality and the way we know it), orders its curriculum around different principles, regards the child differently, is mission-driven rather than market driven. Indeed, it seeks to heal the market it serves, and seeks different ends for its students.
Located in a serene, quiet, but secure environment suitable for teaching and learning at Kilometre 20, Oyo-Ibadan Road, Fiditi, Oyo State, the school, Bethel American International School (BAIS), though still a work in progress, is an all-boarding secondary school that has state-of-the-art facilities, modern learning aides with each student availed a personal iPad for use. With projectors used as part of teaching aides, laboratory facilities are being installed as the pioneer students progress to senior secondary school next session.
President and founder of the school, Elder Michael Aderinkomi said that the setting up of the school, which commenced academic activities in 2012, was borne out of the desire to add value to the country’s educational system, and to give average Nigerians the opportunity to affordable acquire quality education with attendant exposure that guarantees them a brighter future. The highest class in the school presently is Ninth Grade, that is Junior Secondary School Three.
Disclosing that the facility belongs to the parent organisation in the United States, Aderinkomi noted that the bulk of what they were doing were through public supported funds, adding that the society through the help of “these good-spirited Americans decided to use their influence and the resources God has given them to help Nigerians to learn better things and how things work in the world today.
“All what we are doing here is to make sure that an average Nigerian also has access to good quality education. We also established the school to complement government’s effort, while at the same time, making it affordable for the average Nigerian,” Aderinkomi told The Guardian.
He revealed that the expatriate teachers in the school offer their services as missionaries just to help improve Nigerians and the Nigerian education sector, adding: “If you compare what these people will be making over there in America to what they are making here, they won’t be here. But they are here as missionaries to help Nigerians and if we are to cost everything and input them in the fees that the students pay, Nigerians will not be able to afford our services.”
The U.S. administrator of the society, Scot A. Hintermeyer, in his remarks stressed that the school was not in business to make profit, adding that the amount the school charges in comparison with what other schools in that league charge was way too low.
He said: “If you look at the price structure that you find in Nigeria, you will find out that we lay pretty much in the middle of what the price of schools like ours would cost. If you probably compare the education quality here with some of those charging higher prices, you will find out that our quality is quite high. This is because we are trying to make it as affordable as possible for as many people as possible, even though to survive, you have to be at a point where more money is coming in than going out so that you can reinvest in
the educational system, to improve the facilities and other things.
“However, none of us here is going to get rich from this as everything that is made here is going to be reinvested into the quality of educational system,” he concluded.
“Since we are combining American and Nigerian curricular, we make sure that we cover all the Nigerian syllabus because we want students that come here to do well. They are preparing right now for their Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE). But then, we are adding the American side and we are having a lot of support from the U.S. to help us develop them. There are, however, some parts of the American education that are relevant but are not helpful to them. So we try to take the best of the American education, add it to that of Nigeria so the kids have a wider and broader view of the world, and they are just learning excellently,” said academic director of the institution, Laura Hintermeyer.
She disclosed that the students routinely embark on excursions to the U.S. to expose them to a world of different things, with the latest taking place last Easter, when the Ninth Graders spent three weeks in Minnesota, and returned home with a new appreciation of what they have, and what they could have.
Shedding light on the recent U.S. trip, Aderinkomi added that the students were taken to universities of St. Thomas, Bethel and Minnesota in the U.S. during the trip. This afforded them the opportunity of attending a class with the undergraduates of one of the universities as well as feel the campus environment. This was done to help them aspire to higher things.
On his part, Scot, however, noted that even though the school doesn’t have a formal partnership with any university in the U.S. or anywhere abroad as far as placement of students is concerned, the school’s curriculum is designed in such a way that when the students get done with their high school, they are already prepared to enter any higher institution anywhere in the world.
He added that there might be further efforts as the school grows bigger and the pioneer students get closer to graduation to seek for partnerships and relationships with universities abroad and help facilitate the switch for any of their students that intends to school there.
Though a Christian faith-based school, it is open for all Nigerians irrespective of their religion.