Pace Setters mixes education with culture on International Cultural Day

Pupils of Pace Setters Academy during International Cultural Day in Abuja Photo Lucy Ladidi Elukpo.

Pace Setters Academy, one of the renowned primary schools in Abuja, led by its founder, Barr. Ken Imansuangbon, wife, Kate and members of staff, recently celebrated the 2017 International Cultural Day with representatives of seven embassies in attendance

The couple’s name may not ring a bell among the celebrities often read about in the papers but they have had their hands in a lot of pies as outstanding educationists, lawyer and philanthropist and chairman and director of Abuja-based Pace Setters Group of Schools. The couple’s works reverberate across Abuja metropolis because of their unflinching commitment, determination and leadership skills in providing qualitative education to many children daily.

Early in the month, students of Pace Setters, one of the primary arms located in Wuse, Abuja had its cultural day. Drawn from different ethnic backgrounds- Hausa, Ibo, Ijaw, Yoruba, Edo, and surrounded by their parents, they were all gaily-dressed in different native attires depicting their various cultural heritages. The International Cultural Day is a yearly event that parades, not only the students, but also identifies with seven embassies such as South Korea, China, Japan, Liberia, Ethiopian and Nigeria.

Throwing more light on the school’s continued show of culture, the school’s chairman, Barr. Imansuangbon said the purpose was to honour the students, to provide entertainment and above all to identify with their heritage. It was a show of culture, indeed, as each ethnic groups danced to different local songs emanating from loud speakers positioned at strategic locations.

As the name implies, Imansuangbon said the school has been blazing the trail among other schools in Abuja?

“We have been setting the pace for others to follow, like our name, we live our name and set the pace, we set the lead and we are ahead of others both in academics and extracurricular activities both in and outside the country. We are guided by our name and our students must show good example. In Pacesetters, you must have good character, which counts in academics, social activities, religion, self-esteem, confidence and totality. In terms of standards, it is second to none. We have our laboratories, children have access to facilities, computers and internet. We have six schools located in four major locations in Abuja- Gwarimpa, Wuse, Wuye and Gusape extension.

Lamenting the woes that have befallen the Nigerian education sector, he said the system is going down as it produces half-backed graduates. “I would say that our products from Nigerian universities these days are half-baked. And you can’t give what you don’t have. Why are they half-baked? We need to go back to the roots and take care of our university system. Firstly, teachers should be well remunerated, we need to equip our laboratories and we need to emphasise on merit and not on who you know so that the students within the academic system will study hard. It helps because when the students find themselves outside, they will be able to perform well because they have been equipped by the system.

“The way forward for the country is not bombs, oil or stolen money, but the education we are able to give. If we have a country whose people are well educated, everybody will know their rights and there will be a rapid development. So education must take the highest budget and health too. I don’t believe that the military should have the highest vote. We should educate our children rather than using the money to buy bombs. Education must be a priority.”

On the issue that there seems to be more emphasis on certification rather than entrepreneurial skills, Imansuagbon also aired his views. “The two are needed, you can’t suppress one for the other. The academic ability should be able to inspire and spread the creative ability. The creative ability in action is what people need to be able to put food on the table ultimately. For instance, if you are a doctor, you must know Mathematics, Algebra and Calculus. You must know Pythagoras Theorem; if you know this, it is not enough.  The real creativity is in trying to dissect what the issues are medically. So the two can go pari parsu.”

Imansuagbon also revealed how he is trying to bridge the education disparity between the rich and the poor through offering scholarships.

“The gap between the rich and the poor in a society like ours, is like the ocean; the Pacific and the Atlantic, but even between them, there is a meeting point and that is what we are doing. For instance, in Pace Setters, we charge fees but 45 to 50 per cent of the children are on scholarship. If you are in the military: Navy, Air Force, Army or even Police Force you are entitled to 20 to 50 per cent discount to encourage the service men for a job well done for the country. If you lose either your father or mother when you are in Pace Setters, you are entitled to scholarship. If you are coming into the school and you are exceptionally good, the admission committee will look at it and they will give you admission, you get a scholarship and tuition is free.

For us, money is not our primary motive, most times we make losses rather than profit. But at the end of the day, both the poor and the rich have succor in Pace Setters and they are treated equally. If you are from poor home but brilliant, we believe you have a role to play not only in the school but the society at large. If you look at the developed countries they pick the best to head their public service. So I am committed to doing this and by the Grace of God I will never stop.

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