Schools Will No Longer Exist As We Have Them Now – Modupe Adeyinka-Oni

Renowned educationist, Mrs Modupe Adeyinka-Oni has stated that with the pace of developments in Nigeria and the world at the moment, the schools of the future would indeed be radically different from what we had all grown up to know.

In a chat with our correspondent on the sidelines of the 2021 Children’s Day celebration, Adeyinka-Oni who is the Proprietor of Standard Bearers School, Lekki, Lagos affirmed that events were happening at such a fast pace that it was incumbent on stakeholders to brace themselves and prepare to embrace the inevitability of change.

One area where she thinks this change would come is in teaching modes. Unlike the strong teacher and recessive student model that is dominant in the country presently, she says that what would likely emerge is a system that is driven by greater interaction and engagement in which the teacher would chiefly be a moderator of the collective inputs of classroom participants.

She also sees some other levels of change that would be engineered by the input of technologies, some of which have lately come to the fore in the current season of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘I believe that because we now have digital meetings and can look at what the trends in the world are pointing to, schools will no longer exist as we have them today. I believe that children will have a greater choice and parents will allow them to make that choice. We have seen it with the Covid where some children have stayed home for a whole year and have not missed out on any activity. When they grow up, what is it that someone will say to them about keeping their children in online schools that will sound strange? They have experienced it even if it is for a month.

I think that the evolution of schools is for us to think beyond the indoor. Recently, we had an event, an election, and the head boy candidate had to present his manifesto, and in his manifesto, he said I promise that I will work with the management to ensure that all of our classes are filled with engagements. What the children want is that they don’t want you to talk to or at them, they want you to engage them.

Learning in the future is going to be about doing. It is what we should have been doing, because in doing so many things happen. If you are having an engaging class, as a teacher you can direct the dialogue, you can listen and really understand if the children have learned what you are teaching because it would be demonstrated in the kind of conversations they have. You can also take advantage of that that kind of conversation to find out more about what they want.

We are all lifelong learners. The greatest lifelong learner is the teacher not the child. Your job is to bring together the collaboration of everyone, their efforts, their research into a position paper on that topic. So when before now, you will write notes and come and tell them that these are your notes, now that is becoming the wrong course to follow. The world is changing so fast and if you are not connected to the internet, you will miss out on a lot of information. What we do here is that we have partnered with a lot of organizations, and we are using their tools, we are opening up our schools to a more robust teaching and learning engagement environment.

Our teachers have to go outside to teach. There is just so much that is new, that is happening in the classroom. We all know that there are videos online that we can use to teach and also we are now getting our children to make videos. So instead of submitting plagiarised works, they understand research and copyright, they cannot just copy and paste. Summarize it in your own words. So, we now tell them instead of submitting a PowerPoint presentation, do a video.

What this whole process is teaching us is that education is constantly changing. Children in primary school today we are teaching them for jobs that don’t exist. If the jobs don’t exist, why are we teaching them? Only the skills and competences of the 21st century are what we are focused on.’

On whether this was not just an elite fad given the quality and resource gap that presently exists between students in higher income suburbs relative to those from lower income suburbs on the one hand and those between the more affluent private schools and their less buoyant contemporaries as well as the private-public schools gulf, she said that the trend was almost going to be irreversible and that the thing to do was to urgently address how to bridge the gap through cooperative voluntary activity.

‘Change happens in one community at a time. It takes one person to start it. That is not to say I am calling myself a change maker but who knows. I feel that a lot more people are aware, I feel that the soro soke generation are more demanding, especially of what they want for their children. I feel like this whole process cannot be stopped, and the fact that the government refused to acknowledge it but history has recorded it was actually the catalyst.

From that we have seen a lot of things happening in the nation.’

In specific terms, Modupe-Adeyinka-Oni and several of her associates have been engaged in a number of projects, helping with the training of teachers of lower income private schools and this has gone on now for over ten years.

;We were doing it in physical schools. We started in Ijesha, we took about 30 schools in Ijesha and we had a five-day conference and we worked with them about how to teach English, classroom management, classroom discipline, and everything that had to do with teaching. We also talked about their personal development. We had people from HR, we had educators and we had this five-day programme with them. Again, it is voluntary work so we actually contributed the money ourselves.

The next one we took it to Ogudu and we had a bigger event with about 200 plus people in attendance. Then there was a third one. And then we now started having smaller ones because donor fatigue set in. We picked it up again during Covid and I think this time we have better chances.

Another thing that we tried to do was that they had the option of if we wanted, they could come to our school and shadow my teachers. That particular school in Ijesha did that and when I called the proprietress, she said it has totally transformed her school.

What we are planning to do now is to take the initiative online. This is how we can bridge the gap.

Finally, one of the benefits of the Covid-19 era for me is that the problem with the children on the street has become my problem. I know that I have made a pact with God that if he empowers me with the resources, this is going to be my legacy project. It is about impacting the children. Because we cannot multiply the teachers that quickly and in such mass through physical outreach, that is why we need an online solution,’ Adeyinka-Oni concluded.

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