Teaching how to think, not what to think in schools

Stella Onwuegbu

The Executive Director of Sascon International School, Abuja, Mrs. Stella Anayo Onwuegbu speaks to Collins Olayinka on the need for schools for have established learning tools as foundation for imbuing ‘how’ to think and not ‘what’ to think in children at tender age towards the promotion of excellence in learning.

What is your background?
I have Bachelor degrees in English and Law from the University of Jos. I have always been interested in education and for that reason I am very happy and proud to have completed a post-graduate diploma course in education last year. Dedicated, outgoing and a team player, I believe in giving people around me equal opportunities to succeed. I also like sharing ideas. Furthermore, I enjoy meeting people and finding ways to help them have uplifting experiences. I am married to Engr. Anayo Onwuegbu, who is the Chairman of Sascon International School, Maitama.

What type of school do you run and what are its unique features?
Sascon International School, Maitama, Abuja is a co-educational, full boarding school. It is located on 19A Yedseram Street (Farmers’ Market Road off IBB Way), Maitama, Abuja. The School prepares students for the WASSCE, SSCE, BECE and Cambridge IGCSE examinations. The School opened its gates to JSS1, JSS2 and SS1 students in September 2016. In September 2017, it will take students into JSS1, JSS2, SS1 and SS2.
The School has the most modern state-of the-art facilities, including spacious air-conditioned classrooms complete with interactive boards as well as the usual whiteboards. These interactive boards provide for stimulating lessons, thus encouraging students to want to learn more. The laboratories are extremely well –equipped, including a large, ultra-modern ICT laboratory and e-library. The sports facilities are world-class and the hostels welcoming, furnished with quality furniture and rugs to create a comfortable, homely atmosphere. We are committed to the all-round development of our students, preparing them for success in life.

What is the mission and vision of the school?
Our vision is to provide a career-orientated educational programme that encourages our students to be independently analytical and evaluative while being able to work as part of a team. In this way, we will enable them to face opportunities and challenges in life and make choices based on fear of God, a strong sense of discipline and high moral values. It is our mission to prepare students to be a part of and contribute to an ever-changing world. We will engage them effectively, mould their character and build up their self-esteem and integrity. Through our varied curricula, we will help them to develop their individual talents and become actively involved in the learning process and in their own education.
The School was established in 2016 to provide the very best quality education for students in a safe, secure and tranquil learning environment right in the heart of Maitama, Abuja.

What are your views about the Nigerian education system?
I rate the Nigerian education system very highly. The Federal Ministry of Education, working through its dedicated and committed teams of professionals, has made great strides in recent years to maintain high educational standards in this country. Our WASSCE and SSCE results are internationally accepted as entry qualifications into tertiary institutions worldwide. I do believe, however, that our young people stand to gain a lot in today’s global village from exposure to other systems as well as the Nigerian system.

How do you intend to contribute to the wholesomeness of your students educationally and morally?
The decision to make Sascon International School, Maitama a full boarding school was not taken lightly. We believe that in the modern world with all its technological advances, like mobile phones, social networking and so on, there are many distractions that prevent the present generation of young people from focusing on their education and their future. We seek by being a full boarding school to remove those distractions. In addition to normal lessons, our students have prep twice a day, seven days a week. During evening preps, there are remedial classes/clinics in Mathematics, English and Handwriting for those who require them. They also have daily prayers, beginning the day with early Morning Prayer and concluding with prayers before bedtime. Children are encouraged to worship in their own way, according to the rites and traditions of their religion. We believe that godliness, discipline and high moral values go together.

What is your philosophy regarding education?
It is my firm belief that the basis of all sound education is, to paraphrase the words of Margaret Mead, the world-renowned sociologist and educator, “that we should teach our children how to think, not what to think”.

Going forward, what are your plans for your school?
Why, of course! There must always be future plans for any institution. It is our plan to be recognized within a very short time as the best school in Abuja and, ultimately, in the whole of Nigeria.

What is your advice to parents and children regarding educational development?
My advice would be to work together in making choices, weighing up all the options and choosing the right school and field of specialisation from an informed perspective. Always keep career opportunities in mind and focus on achieving success and the confidence and self-esteem that goes with it. Fear God and love and respect one another.

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