15 Facts to Consider Before You Register Your Child in a School (5)

It is a beautiful day. This day is made by God, the Maker of all things. I hope we all know that the devil does not create. He only perverts. His tool of perversion is the ignorance of his victims. Hence some of us are committed to attacking his seemingly invincible fortress of ignorance. Thus I am here again today.

Permit me to bring to conclusion the 2nd factor you must consider before you register your child in a school, which is to study and judge the commitment of an institution of learning to what it claims it stands for in terms of vision, mission and core values. How do we study and judge commitment to vision, mission and core values? I think the number one tool is clear understanding of the vision, mission and the core values of the school. It therefore means we need to have a foreknowledge of the vision, mission and core values either by requesting for the school’s prospectus or visiting their website. Our visit to the school will be to study and judge the school’s commitment the foregoing. I think we can achieve our mission of studying and judging through observation of the school and every stakeholder, including pupils and direct interview with same stakeholders. From when you step into the school, you begin to observe the attitude of the gatemen and the receptionists. You may also want to observe the environment to see whether it conforms to what the school claims to represent.  For example if a school says neatness is a value they hold dear, you want to watch out for the environment. Discuss with the head of school and ask critical questions on their vision mission and core values.  Seek to visit the class your child is to be accommodated in. Spend time and observe the teacher and the children. Seek to discuss with the teacher his/her understanding of what the school stands for. See if there is coherence between the teacher and the head of school. A lady recently shared an experience with me on a school she intended to register her child. She found that though, they claim that professionalism is a value they hold dear, that they were in the least professional. She observed that from the gate to the office of the head of school, none of the personnel, who attended to her, were professional in the discharge of their duties. After spending about 25 minutes on the premises of the school, she made her conclusion that she would not register her children there, though she still went ahead to fulfil all righteousness by talking to the head of school.

Why do we need to study and judge? It is because it is impossible for a school to achieve in our children what the leaders and the drivers (teacher and other stakeholders) have not achieved in themselves. You cannot lead someone to and through a route you have not travelled before. You simply cannot give what you do not have.

The vision, mission and core values of a school should be taught and well known to all stakeholders including the most junior staff by the leaders of the school. The fundamental responsibility of a teacher is to teach vision and keep inspiration alive. The leader must understand that influence without inspiration will not lead to transformation.  The most effective way to teach vision and keep inspiration alive is to lead by example. In Mayflower School, founded by Dr. Tai Solarin, morning exercise was a rule. Pupils started their day with physical exercises. Come rain, come shine, Dr. Solarin was the first on the field.

You see, we live in a country where we are better in words than we are in deeds. We love words more than action. To get the best out of the system, we must be in what I call ‘verification mode.’ I was read in the newspaper about an endurance trek named after a ‘big man’ in Nigeria and the man, whom after the endurance trek was named, was not part of the trek in any form. He did not even start with them and stepped aside later.  I think I have done justice to this 2nd factor. I look forward to being with you tomorrow. Stay INSPIRED.


15 Facts to Consider Before You Register Your Child in a School (4)

Hello friends. I am excited to be here after a very long break. It is my custom to write only on working days. I go to bed at the weekend and public holidays. It is to help my readers and I to rest. I do not believe that serious matters or hard stuffs like these are to be shared during the time of rest.

As I announced last week, from Thursday, November 1, 2012, I will only post my articles on my blog: www.taiwoakinlami.wordpress.com and post the link on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Join me today as I discuss the 2nd fact you must consider before you register your child in a school. After making an effort to identify the motive or mentality of the founder(s), we must study and judge the commitment of an institution of learning to what it claims it stands for in terms of vision, mission and core values. The truth of the matter is that once the motive is wrong, it is almost impossible for the vision, mission and core values to make any sense or meaning.  The vision of the school must be clear on where the school is taking the children or what they want to achieve with the children both in terms of academic and life skills. The mission as we all know speaks about the method(s) or approach the school intends to employ to achieve the articulated vision. A man cannot claim he knows where he is going, if he cannot show us how he intends to get there and the strategy he intends to employ. Sense of mission or sense of direction is as important as a vision. As a matter of fact a vision without a mission is like a car without an engine.

Once you cannot articulate the strategy of achieving your vision it is either you do not have a vision in the real sense of it or you do have but you are ignorant of the what to do. If you do not have any vision by the reason of your faulty motive, you really have nothing to care about until you are exposed or you repent.  Please note that no-vision is also a vision. It simply means you are taking those with you nowhere but where your motive leads. It simply means you have a vision; the only issue is that it is unpopular and you are not bold enough to open up and face the consequences thereof. But, if you are motivated by a noble vision, which you are genuinely committed to achieving and you lack strategy, your genuineness of purpose will create in your frustration, frustrations, leads to despondency, despondency leads depression, depression leads to cluelessness and cluelessness opens the door to suicide. It is either the missionless organisation commits suicide or the leaders do. Whether the lack of vision and mission of a school is deliberate or as a result of ignorance, the school does not deserve to have your child. The next things to watch out for are the core values of the school. Core values talks about who you are or the values you represent, which convince you and your observers that you have what it takes to employ your mission to achieve your vision.

The combination of the vision, mission and core values of an institution of learning represents the flavour the institution of learning wants to spice the life of your children with. It is important you taste it to know if it is fit for the life of your child. And I want to assure you very sincerely that this flavour will remain in the life of the child like chameleon faeces, that when you clean it the smell hardly goes. May it please you for me to announce that I am signing out at this point. Tomorrow, I will dwell on core values as the true test of commitment to vision and mission and share practical examples on how at one visit to the institution of learning, you can find out what they really stand for.

Do have an INSPIRED Day.

15 Facts to Consider Before You Register Your Child in a School (3)

Thank you for joining me today. I hope the discussion is getting interesting. Let me announce that as from Thursday, November 1, 2012, I will only post my articles on my blog: www.taiwoakinlami.wordpress.com and post the link on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

I am still discussing the first fact you must consider, which is ‘what is the motive of the promoters of the school? I begin today by discussing how we determine the motive of promoters of private schools. I think the first test motive is mentality. Mentality here means world view. It means personal perspective of life. It may also be called the philosophy of life. A man’s motive for doing anything in life will never rise above his/her mentality. It may interest us to know that mentality is a product of one’s experiences. It is also important to know that expressly defined or not, every man living has a philosophy of life to which he/she is committed wholeheartedly. In the school system today, there are 3 mentalities I have found from my experience among school owners and leaders. The first is The Survival Mentality: These ones are only interested in meeting their daily needs and they would do anything lucrative to meet their needs. Nothing urges this people on but their hunger. Hunger also comes with selfishness. The hungry wants to corner everything. A 19 year old boy teaches 9 subjects in a school and he is on N5, 000 monthly salary, which is not paid regularly. At the end of year, the school urged parents to bring foodstuffs for their end of the year party.

The 19 year old boy was appointed the chairman of the end of the year party. At the end of the party, there were foodstuffs left. The teachers asked the chairman to speak to the school owner on their behalf if they could share the leftover foodstuffs. The fact that the chairman could ask infuriated the school owner, who warned him sternly and instructed the chairman to put all the leftover in her car, saying, ‘where were all of you when I started this school?’ The second mentality is The Investment Mentality: Those who have resources and they want to invest in anything lucrative. I have met countless of these ones, who desire multiple source of income and found the school system as their prey. They are only interested in the naira and kobo no more no less. They commit resources to expansion of the business than any other thing in the school.

The third mentality is The Genuine Educationist Mentality: I have met very few of these ones. I mean very few. These ones set up their schools to do all things in the best interest of the child except things they are not aware of. They are genuinely concerned about every single child. By their disposition, they are teachable and receptive to new ideas.

I must say that the first category are too many, the second category are also very many but the last category are very few. How do I decode each of them? Well, I think it is your responsibility as a parent to sit down with the leadership of the school in which you want to register your child or the school he/she attends and ask some critical question, some of which will form the 15 facts to consider. Have an INSPIRED day.

15 Facts to Consider Before You Register Your Child in a School (2)

Hello friends, it gives me great pleasure to be here with you today in the spirit of Social Empowerment Advocacy. Please note that the reason for this exercise is to help you become a regulatory body in the lives of your children. The truth is that the regulatory bodies in the educational system in Nigeria are asleep. In fact they are not only sleeping and snoring, they are comatose. Like it is in every area of our life in the Third World, we must become private regulatory bodies in matters that relate to our children. We have PHCN, yet as a private regulatory body we have generators. In fact generator has become the main source of electricity while PHCN has become the alternative. We have the Nigeria Police Force, yet we have private security arrangements including vigilante groups. We have Water Corporation, yet we have to dig wells and boreholes. In summation individually, we operate like Local Government Chairmen. Though, we are tax payers, we run a budget for almost everything we pay tax for. Most painfully, we are responsible for our own security and welfare.

The educational system is not different. Though there are public schools, we make register our children in private schools. Same way PHCN, Water Corporation, The Nigerian Police and the rest cannot meet our needs; the public schools also are not able to meet our needs. Now, the private schools also are in different cadres and categories. The bottom line is that irrespective of their cadres and categories, they operate in an unregulated system, where the best practice of each private school is not commanded by the vigilance and effectiveness of the regulatory bodies but the sanity and commitment of the promoters and the vigilance of the parents and other stakeholders in the private schools system. It takes adherence to higher values for a citizen to live responsibility in a system where anything goes and you can settle all things with who you know or how much you are ready to spend. It is important to note that the adherence to higher value, I just mentioned is missing in our land today because of another serious factor, which is called survival mentality. Almost everyone in the land is trying to survive, whether we accept that fact or not. When a system is unstable and the security and the welfare of the people are no more the primary aims of governments at all levels, as envisaged by the principle of Social Contract, the people, the rich and the poor feel they are under siege and when you are under siege, you think of only one thing, safety and survival.

The evil I have found however is that only very insignificant percentage of parents, who register their children in private schools are conscious of their roles in an unregulated system. Many parents just wish with any empirical or scientific basis, which comes out of thorough investigation that all is well with the schools they register their children. Some parents have taken the bull by the horn by setting up schools that will meet their educational expectations of their children. While that is highly commendable, it is not still the direct answer to the situation. The way forward is for all of us as parents to move into the private schools sector and become active stakeholders and informed regulatory bodies in the defence of the best interest of our dear children.

It is in the light of the foregoing that I share with you these 15 tools, which I believe are able to help you to be effective regulatory bodies:

  1. What is the motive of the promoters of the school: Motive is very important. Every endeavour in life will not rise above the motive of its promoters. In my experience, I have found that there are two responses when you try to dig into the delicate issue of motive. The first is that the promoters tell you what you want to hear, that is the popular expectation. So if you ask promoters in the private school system their motive, you will surely hear things like ‘we have passion for children,’ ‘we want to give children the best of education,’ and so on. The second is the real motive behind setting up a school. People hardly tell you that because it is not popular, except few, who are genuinely committed to giving a future and a hope to our children or who are not afraid to tell you where they stand (you hardly find such though). Now, where do we go from here? Motive can never be hidden to the wise and professionals even if the owner of the motive tries vigorously to hide it. I have attended meetings with schools leaders in the company of some of the parents we consult for as Child Protection experts in trying to make a choice of schools for their children, no school leader has succeed in hiding their real motive thought they made brilliant attempt to do so.

I will like to continue tomorrow and I will discuss with you how to detect motives from one single discussion. I will show you the three kinds of schools owners, I have identified and their characteristics. Please make it a date with me tomorrow by the grace of God. Stay INSPIRED.



15 Facts to Consider Before You Register Your Child in a School (1)

The decision to register one’s child in a school is not a decision one should take lightly. It is a critical decision. It is important to note that the school is not a substitute for the home. The school will never take over the responsibilities of the home. Therefore the school is complementary and not a substitute. One of the basic needs of a child is that a child needs somewhere to belong, first a home and second a community. The school is in the community. Proximity of a school to the parents’ residence is not strong enough a reason why the child should be registered in a school.

The truth is that our personal commitment to the best interest of our children would be the foundation of every decision we take concerning our children. Taking these decisions may require information. In most cases parents do not go out of their way to acquire the requisite skills. A lot of times we are not even aware that any skill is required. When we get informed that skills are required, we are too busy to learn the skills and when we manage to learn the skills we are not available to use them.

Here is my humble effort in helping parents to understand the basic issues in respect of child protection. Protection begins with caution. Caution begins with the right foundation. The right foundation is tied to the right information. The right information is not cheap. Now, irrespective of our opinion of what is right, once our decisions on any matter are not in conformity with universal principles, which God established to govern the affairs of the world, we are bound to suffer the consequences.

Our best option is not to put our children in an environment, which is not in their best interest. Do you put your child in the lion’s den and begin to pray that God should keep him/her from the lions. Your foundational prayer should be that God should order your steps away from the lion’s den.  In most cases many lions’ dens are painted in sheep and glowing colours. The colours do not change the inhabitants and their nature of preying. In fact the goal of the colour is to lure the unwary in. There are also many lions’ den with great names and profiles. Their great name and profiles do not change their practices. News of the World existed for 168 years. It was one time the biggest selling English language newspaper in the world, and at closure still had one of the highest English language circulations. Jerry Sandusky, recently sentenced to jail for sexually molesting children under his care including his adopted son, founded The Second Mile, a non-profit charity serving Pennsylvania underprivileged and at-risk youth in 1977. His empire of deception only crumbled in 2012. Long years of existence and results do not necessarily equal best practices. Best practice in any endeavour is a culture, which is created and sustained by 2 factors. The first is the commitment of its promoters and the second, is the informed vigilance of the clients.

Join me tomorrow as I begin to show you from experience, the factors to look out for before you register your child in a school. Stay INSPIRED.

Child’s Right to Good Health: Celebrating my Wife, My WASH Mentor

Growing up, my parents once lived in a ‘face-me-I-face-you’ apartment, where there was no toilet. Behind the house was a refuse dump, where we went in the morning or any time of the day, hid ourselves in a corner, children and adults alike, to answer the call of nature.

This particular weekend, my parents were out of town and my unhealthy health practices had taken their due toll on me. I was down with cholera from Friday. I was vomiting and going to the toilet at the same time. I did not have appetite for food and the little that was left in me was being discharged through my mouth and anus rapidly. My parents returned on Sunday and met me almost lifeless. They rushed me to the hospital and the doctor said if they had brought me five minutes later, I would have been history.

This experience did not teach me to be hygiene conscious. Though, as I grew older and attained independence, I got better. But I wasn’t interested in hand washing. I did not see its importance until I got married. My wife would insist on hand washing, rinsing of already washed cutlery before we use and fruits before we eat. It was war. As she insisted, I began to practice hand washing and other hygiene measures she insisted on, though I did not fully comprehend why I should, considering my background, I did it religiously because my wife insisted.

Few years into our marriage, I was attending a training-the-trainer workshop on Child Rights Reporting at the United Nations House, Abuja, organized by UNICEF, there we treated a topic known as WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). There I learnt the wisdom in hand washing. According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, ‘Hand Washing is the single most important means to keep from getting sick and to prevent the spread of infection.’ We were also informed that many children have been lost to poor hygiene practices. As we were being trained, I did not know when I shouted, ‘this is what my wife has been telling me o!’

Today, it is clear that the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) campaign does not have any breath of expression in most of our public schools and hospitals as there is no water to flush the toilet, not to talk of the user washing his or her hand. Chibuike Umeh, a pupil of Birrel Avenue High school, Yaba, shared the experience of his peers on the use of the school toilet: “It’s very messy,” he said. “Every time you go in, you must see urine on the floor, and sometimes you even see faeces on the floor. We usually urinate somewhere behind the (school) building, and when we have to do the main thing (defecate), we don’t sit on the bowl; even sometimes, some students do it on the floor.”

I think it is high time we took hygiene serious by leading our children to embrace hand washing after the use of toilet, returning home after the day. We should also wash fruits before we consume and wash or rinse our cutlery before we use them.  Thank you. Have an INSPIRED weekend.

The Girl Child, Not a Child?

Babaowo and Mamaoro got married 15 years ago. Everybody believed that it was a marriage made in heaven and sealed on the earth. Babaowo does everything to please his wife or so it appeared. They have 2 children and both are girls. Everything was fine until Babaowo suddenly died.

Few weeks after the death of Babaowo, his extended family showed up with a woman and a son. The woman was introduced to Mamaoro as the secret wife of her late husband and the son, 9 as his son. The resemblance was striking. Mamaoro broke down. She thought she was very close to her husband. She thought she knew everything about him. As she wept, the head of her late husband’s family lifted her up and consoled her. He said the husband took the action to look for a boy child, who will be his heir in good faith. He said the late husband did not want to rock the boat, hence he decided to be wise about the situation.

This story underscores a foolishness I have seen in our society among the high and the low. It is a general misconception that until a family has a boy child, they do not have children yet. Many have countless children they do not have any plan to take care of in the name of looking for a boy child. I do not understand why the sole reason of bringing a child to this world would be a search for a particular sex. The misconception about the girl child is huge. The incredible advancements that women have attained in our society appear not to instruct people with this backward belief.

Today, I challenge our society to take a look at this belief and be ready for a reorientation in the best interest of the girl child. A child, boy or girl is a priceless blessing from God. A child, boy or girl is like an arrow in the hands of his/her custodians. The arrow does not determine its sharpness, speed and direction. The one shooting arrow does. I think instead of focusing on the child and his/her sex as the determinant of her worth, we should focus on ourselves as custodians. Have an INSPIRED Day.