Meadow Hall Foundation (MHF), a subsidiary of Meadow Hall Group, hosted a two-day Education Convention themed: Transforming our Society through Education. The education convention, which took place at City Hall, Lagos Island and Meadow Hall, Lekki on day 1 and day 2 respectively, provided an opportunity for all educational stakeholders to gain fresh perspectives on pertinent educational issues from interactions with educational experts. Various recommendations were made on how to use education to transform our society. After the general deliberations, participants were grouped into various sessions based on their stakeholder group; participants, also, signed up for mentors in order to enhance their service delivery via 21st century best educational practices and to provide continuity with regards to their personal and professional development.
According to Mrs. Kemi Adewoye, head of Meadow Hall Foundation, “Meadow Hall Foundation’s passion for teachers and quality education led to the initiation of this education convention, which brought educational stakeholders such as teachers, head teachers, school owners, parents and community members, as well as government officials and policy makers together to discuss and learn ways to advance our society through education”.
She stated “Education is a vital tool for societal transformation and that the quality of an education system can only be as good as the quality of its teachers. At Meadow Hall Foundation, advancement of teaching quality is very important to us and as such most of our initiatives like; the Graduate Teacher Trainee Programme (GTTP) — a 3 month free teacher training and development initiative aimed at young graduates who are passionate about the teaching profession, the Free Teacher Professional Development Programme — an annual training programme organised for teachers of public and low-cost private schools, the School Adoption Programme — an initiative focused on improving the quality of education in neighborhood public schools by providing educational support to public school teachers and students, the Mentoring Programme –which is aimed at preparing people to achieve their full potential, and the Inspirational Educator Awards (INSEA) — which is aimed at elevating the teaching profession and motivating teachers and educational leaders to continue to strive for excellence in their profession are all designed to help achieve our vision”. She also emphasized the role we all have to play in nation building.
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, former minister of Education of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and former Vice President of the World Bank, one of the keynote speakers at the education convention, said “Education is the best economic policy. She pointed out that Nigeria became an independent republic few years ahead of Singapore but as of today, they are ahead of us economically. She identified low productivity and lack of competitive advantage as two key challenges in our country, and advised all stakeholders to focus more on human capital development. It takes education to make the citizens of a country more productive and more competitive. Since education is a key to human capital development, we should use education to transformation our society.
Dr. Ezekwesili said, “Education is the take-off point in fixing our society”. According to her, “a composite education is a productive education. For nation building and society transformation, it is essential for teachers to pass down the 3 C’s to their students. Competence– looks at mental capacity and the ability to complete tasks; Character- stresses the importance of values, and Capacity- looks at steadfastness and the ability to push through”. In the attempt to transform society, Dr. Ezekwesili believes a wholesome education is essential.
She further emphasized the importance of teachers, and the responsibility they have in bringing up the next generation. According to Dr. Ezekwesili “the quality of the teacher, stands at 60-70% in determining the learning outcome of children. She demanded for comprehensive and composite approach in ensuring quality education; quality of teacher in a classroom, good instruction materials, habitable classroom, technology, and right, relevant and qualitative curriculum.
“Education community must start the process of fixing Nigeria through transforming a child at a time. We must demand for policy reform with united voice. We must become interested in public policies. Nations grow on sound policy, strong institutions, and efficient and effective investment in education” said Dr. Ezekwesili.
Mr. Fela Durotoye, CEO, Gemstone Group and a board member of Meadow Hall Foundation, in his presentation at the education convention said “Education is the fulcrum society drives on”. He touched on Bill Clinton’s comments in 2001 on his visit to Nigeria, where he spoke about how in the 21st Century; the wealth of a nation would not be calibrated by what is beneath their feet but rather, by what is between their ears. A common theme among all the keynote speakers was the importance of focusing more on human capital (human population and intellectual capital) and not just on human resources (human population). The wealth of any country is tied to the level of intelligence of the people and education drives the level of the intelligence. The more we learn, the more we earn. Any society that will transform itself must have a solid education and education rooted in values. Another running theme in the convention is the importance of a wholesome education, which involves the passing down of values, as well as increasing the cognitive abilities of the upcoming generation. This was something Mr. Durotoye was very keen to emphasize. His closing remark was to ensure educators take this responsibility to pass good values down to students in order to transform society through education.
Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Education, one of the keynote speakers at the education convention called for all stakeholders in education to join hands to enhance the quality of education in Nigeria. He stated “as a state we are committed to increasing access to knowledge for everybody in Lagos”. He stated clearly and succinctly, the steps Lagos State Government is taking to transform our society through education. He mentioned three key initiatives: Code Lagos, Ready Set Work and Digital library.
Mr. Bank-Olemoh explained further that “Code Lagos, hopes to equip up to 1 million Lagosians with the ability to code by 2019. In an age increasingly centered on technology, code learning helps develop thinking and problem solving skills that could benefit Lagos’ youth in the future. The government will open centres in public and private schools, public libraries and tertiary institutions. The next initiative- ‘Ready, Set, Work’, focuses on improving the quality of the final year students in Lagos State tertiary institutions; ensuring they have the necessary skills to function in the workplace. Lastly, as part of Lagos State’s plan to transform society through education, the Lagos State Government will launch a website called educatelagos.com; a portal open to everyone, giving them access to primary and secondary textbooks, and educational videos totally free. We want Lagosians to have the skills to compete in a global world”.
All the notable speakers shed light on several issues facing the education system in Nigeria, but most importantly, portrayed ways in which progress can be made. They all came to a consensus that education can only really transform society when we focus less on human resources and more on human capital, and also the crucial role ‘values’ have to play in nation building. They were all in agreement about the responsibility we all have to play in terms of proper data gathering and coming together as educational stakeholders to influence policy makers in ensuring quality education at all levels.
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, Mr. Fela Durotoye and Mr. Demola Aladekomo thanked Meadow Hall Foundation for this wonderful initiative; having an education convention with all key stakeholders in attendance. They encouraged Meadow Hall Foundation to continue to advocate for the teaching profession.
Meadow Hall Foundation is the non-profit arm of Meadow Hall Group, which supports communities, public schools, pupils and teachers through various developmental initiatives and programmes. Its vision is to advance the educational outcome of the Nigerian Child by enhancing teaching quality. Its mission is to equip Nigerian students for the 21st century by enhancing teaching quality, changing mindsets about teaching and advocating for the teaching profession. Its holistic focus is to use education as a tool for societal transformation.