‘The quality of education we render attracts other kids’

Entrepreneur and proprietress of Patella Model School, Lagos, has managed to position the facility as the preferred choice for quality nursery/primary education. The French Language graduate from College of Education, Ekiadolor, Edo State, says the quality of education the school renders publicises it and attracts other kids. She shares the inspiring story of how she started the school with four kids from a room in her apartment in 2014, and grew it to about 120 pupils, with TOFUNMI SANUSI.

All she ever wanted was to go to a college of education, become an educated teacher and impact knowledge and discipline into young ones.

Proprietress of Patella Model School, Lagos, Nkechi Obu, had the passion for teaching. Her dream eventually came to fruition, as she worked as a teacher for about 15 years. All along, owning and running a private school never crossed her mind.

But it took prodding by some friends and family members who noticed her diligence, dedication and rare business management skills to encourage her to own a school. “I was a teacher for few years and trust me I enjoyed my job. Along the line, I began to get remarks from some family and friends that they see that I have what it takes to run a school. I wondered what they were seeing that I wasn’t at that point,” Nkechi recalled.

Continuing, she said: “Although I had the passion for teaching, owning a school never crossed my mind. Years after, I’d say God started ministering to me because, at that time, no one was telling me to open a school again. My family stopped talking about it when they saw that I was not thinking in that line. It now became a burden in my heart to own a school. I started getting directions from God and that is why I am sure that he is involved in Patella School.”

Nkechi stated that once the burden was laid in her heart, she pursued it. “As soon as I quit my job as a teacher, I went straight into my school business and since then I’ve not had any regret whatsoever,” she said, pointing out that Patella Model School, which she started in 2014 with only four pupils in her apartment now has 120 pupils. The school, which is a nursery/primary school, for now, focuses only on basic education.

The educationist, from Agbor, Delta State, said basic education, which consists of foundational classes that can make or mar a child, was what she was called to do, and that is why her school is dedicated to it alone.

She rationalised it thus: “Kindergarten and basic classes are foundational classes. That phase of children’s lives can either be made or marred, depending on the efficiency of the school and that has exactly been what I’ve been pursuing – efficiency and effectiveness.”

Located in Olagoke Allen Avenue, Ijegun Egba, Satellite Town, Lagos, Patella Model School is actually a foundational school for now; it has kindergarten, nursery and basic classes. “As I said earlier, I started with just four kids who were still toddlers and now I have about 120 pupils. I sincerely see it as a great growth. Almost all the pupils you see  came here because certain parents referred us to others because of the impact we have had on their wards and I consider it as God’s grace,” Nkechi said.

She said she was motivated into owning and running a private school.

Her words: “I will always say I was called to do this. It is what I’ve been sent to do and I love every bit of it. It was something that came along the line. I believe that every child needs and deserves access to quality education and I have since by God’s grace not gone below quality. Whenever I think of this, I get more motivated. It makes me go the extra mile to do things that will make the wards stand out among their peers.”

Indeed, quality tutorials have been Nkechi’s competitive edge in the private school business. In fact, it was partly in a bid to maintain standard and quality that she is not so keen on huge enrolment figures. “I’m not particular about crowd. If we get them that’s fine, there are enough facilities to take care of that, but above all, I really want to keep with the quality of the education even 20 to 30 years down the line. If, in the nearest future, I feel the need for a secondary school, I’ll sure expand in that line,” she said.

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Regular referrals and positive feedbacks from parents attest to the school’s towering status. “Feedbacks have been encouraging and that is why from time to time we keep getting referrals. Anyone that you see talking ill of the school is likely to be a debtor. We try as much as possible to listen to the parents concerning complaints about their wards, and come in where necessary. We also try to give advice to the parents on how to go about certain things.

“During Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meetings, which we hold once a session, we rub minds and see how we better the lives of these children. I’m always open to ideas from them as long as it is beneficial to the children,” Nkechi said. She, however, admitted that getting teachers for her school has not been easy.

“Getting qualified teachers has not really been easy. I have a few, but more importantly, I have experienced teachers. Some of the qualified teachers do not even have the experience and that’s what I try to check whenever I want to employ,” she said, adding that a situation where almost everyone wants to go into teaching not out of passion or love for it, but because of the harsh economy, hasn’t helped matters, as many of them, after a long time, get tired and want to quit.

Does the situation lower the standard and quality of what is being churned out by private schools? “Not exactly,” Nkechi said. According to her, there are layers of regulation in place to ensure that private schools stick to stipulated standards and quality. She said, instance, that there is a forum called Association for Formidable Educational Development (AFED) that sees to it that private schools conform to standards and rules.

“There’s also quality assurance and the Ministry of Education, through the local government, which also interfaces with us. Their officials come from time to time to inspect and see how things are done. The school’s curriculum is also from the government. We adhere strictly to all these things,” she added.

However, recruiting qualified teachers is not the only challenge. According to Nkechi, finance also poses a great challenge. “To run a school with high standard and equipment, you need money. Money is also needed to fund and pay dues. So, generally it is important. A lot of schools that started alongside ours have closed because the money to run the school wasn’t sufficient to the point that members of staff couldn’t be paid,” she lamented.

Perhaps, to underscore the challenge of lack of finance to run a private school, Obu said at the start of her school, she didn’t get any sort of help from any firm, family or the government. Much of the support that came her way, according to her, was courtesy of her supportive husband. “My husband has been a great support and I really thank God for that. I started small and look at the school today, as you can see, it is no longer a room and no longer four kids,” she said.

Nkechi also said working with a team of highly motivated and dedicated staff who share her vision and mission has made the job easier. “Staff commitment is quite commendable; it’s pleasing to see that you work with certain people that want the same as you education wise,” she told The Nation, adding that her husband’s robust support system and her dedicated members of staff are response for her ability to hold down the school and the home front at the same time.

“I have a grown daughter who doesn’t stay with me anymore so, it’s just me and my husband. I still cook and do every other thing. It’s not so easy, at the same time not difficult. I balance work and family quite well. At the school front, the head of teachers supervises things when I’m not there so, that makes it easier,” Nkechi said.

In all, the educationist expressed contentment with the growth of the school, prompt payment of fees, as well as staff commitment. She also expressed optimism that enrolment would continue to soar, encouraged by the the quality of education rendered, which, according to her, publicises the school and attracts other kids.

 

The post ‘The quality of education we render attracts other kids’ appeared first on The Nation Newspaper.

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