Marilyn Oma Anona, a TV Show host, producer, entrepreneur and motivational speaker, is the founder of The Right Stage. In this interview with KUNLE OLASANMI, she speaks on the need for the government to pay more attention to the education sector and why young school leavers should be more creative, instead of waiting for paid employment.
Why did you choose government schools for your public works?
I do lots of humanitarian, charity and social work. I have a foundation called the Right Stage Project. I wanted to make real impact in the society and affect the lives of some youths who do not have access to the media and other social amenities. We started our project with public schools in 2015 because when we talk about people who do not have access to the media, they are sort of the less privileged who have no voice.
Apart from schools, we have also taken the campaign to the Internally Displaced Persons Camp (IDPs) and communities. In 2015, May 17th to be precise, we started with ten public schools, here in FCT. We were able to take them on excursions and inter school contest and debates and at the end of it, we were able to give five successful students scholarships for three sessions. We have been able to visit some communities in Abuja, and each of our visit is tied to a project. For example, in 2015, during one of our programmes, which incidentally was during the election, we were able to talk to the youths to shun violence, thuggery and the need to elect credible leaders.
We have also been able to educate the students especially the girls on issues of rape and sexual assaults.
What led you to render humanitarian service for poor students in public schools?
When I was growing up, I had always wanted to impact positively in the lives of people around me. I had always wanted to be the person that will put smiles on peoples’ faces. I want to inspire and transform the lives of many around me. That is what actually led me into what I am doing presently. I have always been charitable, I love to give, I love to share what I have.
As regards my decision to go to public schools, I had always looked for a way to reach the less privileged among us, so I felt the best way is to go to the public school because if I go to private schools, most of them have access to the things we are giving out to those in the public schools.
Since you embarked on this project, what are some of the challenges you have faced?
The challenges are enormous but I do not want to be held down by challenges. I believe in any project, we must be faced with challenges. In Nigeria today, we know things are tough and I will not pretend that sometimes it doesn’t hit me but, I do not allow it to weigh me down. The major challenge is support, I mean getting corporate sponsors and international organisations to key into what we are doing. We live in the society where you have to know or be somebody before you can get certain things done. We live in a society that does not support a process.
In your view, what can be done to lift education standard in Nigeria?
Government has to do alot to uplift the standard of education and facilities in public schools. I do not think anything has been done by the government because each time we go on visits to these schools, the facilities are in appalling state. I visited a school in Nasarawa state and till date, it remains the worst school I have ever visited. For three days I couldn’t eat because of what I saw.
What advise do you have for young school leavers?
Sometimes, I feel the youths are not prepared for leadership positions. The quality of graduates being produced now is low compared to what we had in the past. Sometimes, I feel the leaders we critized now are even better than the youth we have today. Most people complain that there are no jobs but what are we doing to create jobs. Some of the the youths are not ready to do something for themselves because when they start a project and do not get immediate returns they will be discouraged to continue. There should be mass re-orientation of our youths by the government. We need to move from the level of paid employment to being an entrepreneur. A typical Nigerian youth’s idea is to go to school, graduate and look for a paid employment.