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‘I followed my passion because I love education’

Nduka

Roseline Nduka is the founder of Multivariate School at City View Estate in Ogun State. Prior to founding her school, she worked in the banking sector for over 35 years. Upon retirement, she decided to follow her passion of building a school where she can impact lives and contribute her quota to the society that made her. She believes that there is a lot to be done to revamp the educational system. She shares her journey in this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU.

What prompted you to set up a school?
I went into education because of my love for education and to touch lives positively. Before I left the banking industry after working for 35 years, I had planned to set up my own school. I had observed that children don’t turn out doing what they ought to be doing. They didn’t have the kind of education that is needed. The world is changing and everything is being upgraded. This is not the way it used to be in my days. So, why should children be learning things the same way we had over 40 years ago. I felt the need to add value to the system and this brought about Multivariate School.

What was the initial challenge you faced when you started?
Initially, I had to go back to school to acquire a certificate in education planning and administration because certificate is needed by the ministry authorities to be able to approve the school. Doing that at my age wasn’t easy but I managed to pull through. I was determined to excel, worked extra hard and at the end I came out successful. When we started, we were also faced with the challenge of bringing children to the school. There are so many schools in the system. So, marketing was a bit of a challenge because nobody really knows you, until they have tested you. The school is inside an estate that is not populated. Convincing parents to try our school wasn’t an easy task but we were not discouraged. We are grateful that things are picking up. The school was inaugurated in July 2017 but we admitted our first set in September 2017.

How has the journey been so far?
The journey has been wonderful. We are satisfied with the progress we’ve made looking back at how we started. Since inception, we have recorded tremendous success stories. We have seen cases where the big schools in town that started small have grown. Also, we have also heard of schools that started and went into extinction. We are putting our best foot forward and hope to get better at what we do.

What makes your school different from the others?
We intended to add value and make a difference from the beginning. We adopted the Montessori method of education for our nursery where children are not forced to learn, but taught according to their level of development and ensured we used qualified staff to achieve maximum results. In this school, the least qualified staff has National Certificate in Education (NCE) plus a Montessori education. We combine the Nigerian curriculum with the British because we want to give our children the best. In fact, we give children adequate education to continue with the upper level. Also, children are taught to be upright and also give them E-education that enables them to compete anywhere in the world.

What are you doing to ensure that teachers are performance-driven?
Right from the start, we made them know that this is not a school where they will just teach what they know and go, but there are standards set for them to follow. We give them targets and let them know areas they need to cover. Our head of school, head of nursery and head of administration go round and follow up with the teachers, vis-à-vis what they are supposed to do within a week, month, term and year. So, teachers at Multivariate school know they need to meet certain standards.

Who are your role models in the education sector?
There are schools that when you call their names, they exude standard. There are private schools that don’t just give quality education but teach children good morals. I look up to such schools while starting because giving children the right educational foundation to guide them is important.

Do you agree to sex education being taught in primary schools?
I think it is important we let children know these things. Before parents shy away from those things and when children fall victim of sexual violence they are often scared to talk about what happened to them. You know, children these days watch different things on the television and easily pick up negative things. They are timid and afraid. It is necessary to educate that their bodies are sacred and enlighten them on parts of their bodies that shouldn’t be touched. Both teachers and parents should encourage children to speak out when they are touched in the wrong place.

What is your take on the low standard of education in Nigeria?
I beg to differ when people say the standard of education is falling. I think we need to address the system. People make up the system. People’s lackadaisical attitude to things that should matter is a problem. Some people build schools and fail to monitor what is happening there. There is so much disorder in the system from the parents, teachers and the school. We do warn parents to desist from bringing their children late to school. Imagine, school assembly starts by 7:45 am and some parents bringing their children to school around 8:30 or to nine. We discuss virtues and pray on the assembly ground. You can see that, that standard is not completed. The anomalies in the system have to be corrected. Parents should be close to their children and ensure they do their homework. If parents send their children to school on time with the right materials and qualified teachers are employed, the educational system will improve.

How do you manage work and the home front?
It is not much of a problem for me because when I was working in the banking sector, I was taking care of my husband and children. For me, family is key and I try to multitask. In today’s world, a woman must multitask. My children are grown but I try to manage work and home effectively.

Advice to women who would like to own a school
You must be determined, focused and have passion for education. It is important to make enough research. Go for the right certification. You need finances to put this in place. Lastly, have an enduring spirit. Things might be slow at first but with time things will work out fine.

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