Lorreta Ewara Onyia is a trained administrator and the principal consultant, Lindell Global Resources, Lagos. In this interview with HENRY TYOHEMBA, the present consultant and communications manager of Central Emirate International Academy, Abuja speaks about why Jay Jay Okocha and other Nigerian football legends are visiting the school.
What do you intend to achieve by bringing jay Jay Okocha, Tijani Babaginda, and other great footballers to meet the students?
Unity in diversity. We are going to bring children from the East, West, North and South together. There is a problem in the country now which is ethnicity. We are teaching these children to live in harmony with one and another as well as making them remember that we are one Nigeria. Secondly, we believe by interacting with these stars, the children will be mentored and nurtured. Every child needs mentoring. You need people you believe and look up to in order to grow. That is what we are trying to achieve this year.
Is this camp going to be an annual event?
We are going to be bringing different stars from different fields and callings. Apart from the three stars invited, we have so many stars line up for this year’s event. We have fantastic artists that are recognized internationally and have received international awards that will be with the children for painting and drawing expedition. We have people who are going to teach these children different kinds of dance. We have Icons in the ICT coming to teach these children. It is going to be three days of fun fair and feeding will be served to children at the camp. Such event is planned to be annual.
What will it cost a parent or guardian to get their child or ward registered?
Multiple entries is N20, 000, single entry, N25, 000. Parents can come with their children. There is accommodation for parents who wish to come. We have space for everyone and if you don’t want to stay you can come and go home after the each day event.
Tell us about Central Emirates international Academy?
Central Emirates International Academy was established five years ago. The School’s first set of WAEC students gathered last year with 100 per cent pass. There are so many dysfunctional children in the country that needed help and the school has the capacity to take children as small as three years. We have full boarding facilities even on holidays with matrons attending to children 24 hours.
What are the challenges in the past five years?
The first challenge the school had to contend with was teachers’ quality. Let me shock you, our youths are extremely brilliant and intelligence but when you want to balance the certification with the teaching practical there is disconnect. That is why the school opens a full Montessori training center to train teachers. The teachers are permanently on training every Saturday. We invited experts, consultants in different fields, to train the teachers. That has been the challenge but the school out shadowed it and today we have quality teachers. We have been able to make the study of History and Government compulsory in the school for secondary school students. History subject is compulsory for the students whether they are of science or Art class. In America for instance, from your first year, you are compelled to study History. When a school owner takes such risks, it makes me respect the organization, their credibility and what they are doing for the Nigerian child because it is all about the Nigerian child at the end of the day. Why are we sending our children to Europe and America because we want excellent and quality education for them? The education we have in Central Emirates International Academy, Nigeria is of the same standard with theirs. We have started A-Level class since January, 2018. We started our A-level and Foundation so that the children can start their second year programmes in any part of the world even in Nigeria.
What are your views on Nigeria’s education system?
First of all, Nigerians are extremely brilliant people, also by the time our children travel out of the country to pursue their education, within one or two years they excel. But the systems in Nigeria for those who cannot afford it are appalling and the policy inhuman. Visit some government schools now, you will shed tears. I feel it is pure wickedness to what we are doing to the present generation. The system now is, if you cannot afford good and quality education, go to public school. It is all criminal! An ignorant child is a child who cannot deliver as you expose the child to all manner of vices. That is why we have to remodel these students before they go out for work. I recruit and I know what we go through during the recruitment. We have to re-train 95 per cent of them.
What would be your advice to the government ?
Manpower training is key. Once a teacher is trained, she or he should have passion for what they are doing and he or she understands the future of these children, there will be a total turn-around of mindset and orientation. That is why we at Central Emirates International Academy are regularly training our teachers in our schools every week. Finally, teaching is a passionate job you must love it and be excited about it. We cannot have fantastic buildings, equipped lab and buy books for our library without the right manpower.
What is your Advice to parents and guardians?
The world is global village; it is getting smaller every day and one cannot hide. Parents should give their child an all-round education. An all-round education mean the child should not get stuck with only academic works. The child should have an opportunity to learn everything positive from sport to art and culture, etc. Every child has a talents, let us discover their talents before they turn 15 years. Take your child to a school with all activities and not all about academics, although the academics is important. I was at the America Embassy some weeks ago to attend this American education training that comes once a week for children willing to school in America. One of the staff at the embassy said we don’t give children scholarship just because of the academic, but they give children scholarship attached to what else they can do. I saw children who had amazing scores but they were rejected for not being able to exhibit other talents. So parent when you are looking for a school, let it be an all-round school. I am urging school owners to package these children well and give them a global prominence whenever the opportunity arises.