Teacher, economy and independence
By Theo Adebowale
Last week, Nigeria celebrated her 59th flag independence and a few days later, it was the Teachers Day. My first teacher, that was in UMS Primary School, Jebba South was Mr Paul, a Yoruba man. He had a camera and gave the class a snapshot at the close of class every Friday. I must have collected a few copies but cannot locate any one of them.
That was about all I can recall about my teacher in primary one, some fifty years ago. The next year, I was in The Apostolic Church School, Oke-Iro, Ilesa. Mr Abere was the school headteacher, Mr Aromolaran was my class teacher. My teacher was a ruddy youth. The next year I was in St John’s Primary School, Oke Bode, Ilesa spending the next three years to complete primary education.
We did handwork, Writing, Arithmetic, English and Yoruba. We also did Civics, History, Geography, Elementary Science and a few other subjects in the elementary stage of education. Primay school life was fun. Unfortunately, only those who had it in their community, where they could spend years after that stage can sustain friendship in adult life.
In the years of missionaries of the ‘old time religion’, it was always ‘God be with you till we meet again’. May be if I had capacity to cherish the photographs taken by Mr Paul, and kept them jealously, I would have been a better citizen. But I met Mr Francis Adebajo during my service year. My teacher in Primary six, he was then a Senior Tutor in Molusi College in Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State, some 15 years later.
At Ife Oluwa Grammar School, Osogbo, the privilege of the boarding house provided an opportunity to know teachers and consummate sustainable friendships. Our proprietor, Chief Fadeyi, M. A. Responsibility, Mr T. O. Taiwo, and Mrs Dupe Fadeyi, the two succeeding principals during my tenure were a great influence on those of us pupils. May their souls rest in peace.
Thank God for the teachers, Mr. J. O. Abiona, Geography teacher later Vice Principal, Mr Omiyale, English, Dr Ogunjumo, Geography, later Vice Principal, much later, Commissioner for Higher Education in Chief Bola Ige’s cabinet, Dr Oyeleke, English were those that come to mind readily now. Mr Onigbinde comes to mind as Economics teacher now essentially because of the Nigeria Economic Summit going on in Abuja this week.
In those good days, the male teachers interacted with the pupils and we enjoyed their company. But we felt jealous when they engaged those beautiful female classmates of ours endlessly. These babes might not even have much time to attend to us, perhaps we had no interesting subjects to discuss, heard no courage to engage them, or felt inferior to those teachers. Like now, we had rumors only that advancement in technology establishes substance out of rumors vividly these days.
Undergraduate years in the University of Ibadan were a far distance from earlier years in education. We were undergraduates, treated as adults. The cafeteria did not only serve food, one could also purchase alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages after, and in between meals. Prices were student compliant.
Our lecturers told us that Staff Common Rooms were intended to facilitate interaction between teacher and student beyond the lecture room. Marriages took place between lecturer and student, love affairs to reasonable conclusions. Dr Femi Otubanjo’s office was the most frequented by female students. But he also had a unique style of giving us practice questions which were reproduced in the examinations. No student harassment was ever reported during these school years.
Earlier on, during the St Andrew’s College, Oyo days, our interaction with female teachers was not inhibited. My English teacher invited me to her apartment about 3 times in the one year to have a meal. At the Extra-Mural Classes of University of Ibadan, school life was more informal, but then we enjoyed a good time, teachers and pupils.
Active participation in school life as pupil, student, and now, teacher has impressed me that much more quality attention should be paid to making interaction productive healthy and ordinary. That some male teachers may be for perversity, hypocrisy, or ‘end time’ symptoms now resort to harassment must not push administrators to resort to harsh regulations that do not have enduring solution.
My teacher in Primary One, somebody told me, was an Okeagbe man, Mr Paul had a camera. If I come across him now in case he is alive, I cannot recognise him. In the same vein, pupils, and students I have taught can always recognise me by something and every teacher must bear that in mind.
Sometime, a former student can pass a vital information to a teacher. This may turn out to be an invaluable substance in an economy like ours. Many times, it turns out that one has been prepared for a role in the economy and how well it is played is partly determined by what use is made of input of our teachers into our lives. Tolu shared with me two days ago how his professor had kindled his interest in water dam engineering.
He had to sacrifice an immediate mouth watering contract to participate in dam construction with very little gain that is not even yielding yet. Many teachers at the various levels are considered as mentors shaping lives and careers of our citizens. Those who are genuinely for fellow citizens, who also understand the times, will also understand what our country is passing through. They must be encouraged to take up a career in teaching.
A comprehensive package to sanitize our system is long overdue. The Economic Summit in Abuja this week will be expected to address formal and informal economies professionally and practically. The immediate response to the summit in prices of food items, customs and excise, agriculture and life style would be a testimony to the expertise of our intellectuals. We expect that public officials would be willing to consider new methods of doing things, of operating this problematic economy.
Kunle Amuwo, Alex Gboyega, J. O. A. Ayoade, Peter Ekeh, professors of international status were among the powerful Ibadan team that gave us the science of politics. Prof Akinsola Akiwowo was a mentor in the Social Sciences. May the souls of my departed teachers rest in peace.
Give this message to Mary, and let her know that the economy is inclement.