Mr Wole Aderinkomi, Director, Bethel American International School, Fiditi, Oyo State, is in charge of school administration and coordinates all other activities in the school. He speaks about the school and new educational philosophy being introduced into Nigeria’s education sector. Excerpts:
When was Bethel American International School established?
Bethel American International School, Fiditi, Oyo state, is seven years old now, established specifically in 2012. We had our first graduation July 2018, so we are preparing for the second graduation this year by the grace of God in July. So far it’s been an exciting journey.
Is Bethel American International School founded and owned by the American Government ?
The school is owned by the Good Samaritan Society of America. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation. The society was established by some Nigerians and Americans with the main purpose to providing the following: (i) health care facilities to the people irrespective of their background, ethnic or race, (ii) education – Bethel
American International School is serving that purpose. (iii) Agric Project – American-Nigerian Palm Oil Production – currently has a large oil palm plantations in various locations within Oyo State. (iv) Processing Co. – water and vitamin drink production. (v) Building & Construction Co – which is engaged in all its construction activities. (v) Vacation Bible School (VBS)- an annual camp for children between the ages of 7-17. VBS was established to help children grow in the knowledge of their Creator. We have volunteers and sponsors from different parts of the world. So, the Bethel American International school is one of the various activities of the Good Samaritan Society of America.
Where we are located here is called the Good Samaritan Society Mission Village, it is the mission village of the society. The society’s headquarters is based in Minnesota, United States of America.
What is unique about the group’s educational innovation being in practice in this school?
The major unique thing about Bethel American International School is the Classical Christian model that we run here. By this, I mean we teach three main subjects that are not being taught in other schools. (i) We teach Latin, you know that over 50 percent of English Language vocabularies come from Latin. So, if students have a good understanding of Latin, there is no way such students will not do well in English Language and any other language that might be of interest to learn. (ii) We teach logic. If you have a good understanding of language, you should be able to think also. Logic helps you to think deeply and to be able to reason well. (iii) The last stage of our classical model is what we call Rhetoric. In rhetoric, if you can think very well you should be able to communicate and marshal your points and convince people.
When these children grow up, they won’t just engage in shallow discussions or arguments but think deeply, reason and argue persuasively. These are three major subjects that we teach our students that give us an edge and make us a classical school in addition to meeting the local and international requirements.
We prepare students for local examinations like WAEC, NECO, JAMB. These enable those parents education to find a space in their homeland. We also prepare students for international exams, whether PSAT, SAT, IGCSE among others. Those are the new things we’re bringing into the table that make us different while we are very conscious of the place of our children in the world. In addition we place premium on discipline, morals and ethical values. We train our children to have strength of character, so that
when they leave, we know that they’ve developed necessary skills and discipline to be able to stand tall wherever they are.
We have an exchange programme with some schools in the United States. We also have relationships with some universities like Bethel University, Minnesota, USA, Fort Hays State University, Kansas, we’re in discussions with some other reputable universities in the US to facilitate admissions, faculty training, etc. Learning outside of the classroom enables us to take our students on an educational excursions to various places of interest in and outside of the country such as Educational excursion to the United States, Language Immersion programs to some French speaking countries, etc. During the excursion, our students attend classes on the in order to learn new things and also to evaluate the difference between our own system and other countries.
With all these qualities that you have enumerated, do you think that taking students on transfers could still guarantee sustenance of these virtues in your school?
We usually take transfer students but such transferred students must meet certain criteria that the set by our school. We would like to know why the student is moving from where he or she was coming from, we would also want to see the previous school records, where it is available, we can ask for reference from those schools. We welcome students from different parts of the country, and even outside the country, but we want to be sure of the background of the intending students. This is just to check the character of transfer students so as to know more about the student, but we do welcome transfer students.
Do you structure the education in line with American model or Nigerian model?
We structure and style is a blend of both Nigerian and American curricula. The rest is just in nomenclature. We run a six year program (3 years in junior school and 3years in high school). So it is in line with the current Nigeria structure.
Do you run primary and secondary school together here?
No, we only run junior (JS1-3) and high school (SS1-3) We don’t have primary school yet, maybe in future. The school is full boarding, no day student.
And members of staff?
Most of our staff members lives on campus so they are available at any time including weekends. Once the teachers are available, students are ready to learn. Classes hold anytime of the day when there is reason for it. Once you’re here in this kind of environment, the only thing you need to do is to just learn and engage in some other extra curricular activities to make you a completed student.
In the nearest future, where do you see these students and possibly is the school targeting a vacuum for them to fill in the society?
Here at BethelAIS, we are raising change agents. We definitely cannot continue like this in Nigeria. We’re raising children that will have sense of responsibility and duty of care, children that will impact the society positively. We are persuaded that any child that passes through this school will be Daniel of their generation. Children that will not compromise or corrupt themselves even in the face of adversities. Even if such a child would be the only voice in the midst of multitude. Such will know that they might be in the minority when it come to standing for righteousness and integrity. We do not fail to drum it to their hearing every day the reason why they’re apart and why they’re in BethelAIS. We teach them to obey God and the law of the land, we teach them to take care of the environment, and we teach them to accept correction when they’re wrong. He who hates correction is stupid so says the Bible.
What is the assurance that the teachings and whatsoever you instil in these children will not take away the Nigerian in them and make them think it’s better to be an American on their own soil?
Of course not. Our educational system is not taking anything away from them, apart from mixing Nigerian and American curricula, we ensure that they learn and acquire necessary knowledge about their environment. Most of our staff members are Nigerians and are being trained on what to do in a way to meet the school requirement. Bethel American International School is a technological driven school, all the teachers have their devices (iPads), our classrooms are fitted with projectors and there is 24 hours internet service. So, if you’re taking a class and you need to explain things to the children, all you need is to just go on your device, google and project it on the board for the children. You don’t need to be explaining things and you subject them to imagine it, just function with your device. The children of nowadays learn faster with pictures more than reading.
With the expanding difference between private schools and public schools, how much did you think it would cost the government to close the gap?
Let me borrow a quote from Mother Theresa, she said “if each of us will sweep our doorstep, the whole world will clean”. The issue with Nigerian educational system has to do with leadership, if every educational leader will take responsibility for students’ success and achievement in their own respective school, honestly, it won’t take much time. The focus is on the educational leaders, what are they doing? What are you delivering? How are you helping a child to grow? Our focus is every child that comes here, we take them as if this were to be our child, how do I want to see him/her tomorrow? That is the focus for me and every members of staff. The reason is that there are no bad students, you only have students that the teachers or school gave up on. If you are able to follow them through, if you’re able to nurture them, if you’re able to encourage them with the word of God, if you’re able to let them know the benefits in doing things in right way, they will do it.
All our teachers are mentors. Every student in this school is assigned to one mentor or the other. We have a mentoring day that the students will sit with their mentors, they will talk to them, they will ask questions about what is going on in their homes. In most cases, you might have a brilliant student that is not doing well in the class, the fault might not be in school, it might be from home. So, you inquire on what they are experiencing at home, their friends, etc, from the feedback we then come up with solutions to help the student.
Our policy is that no child should be left behind and no matter how challenging you think your situation might be, we still believe that there is something that you’re good at and we want to identify that thing and help you build on it very well so that it becomes yours strength. From that your strength, you can overcome other weaknesses.
How many students do you have on your roll, or do you have a specific number you look forward to admit yearly?
Well, because we are growing school and we don’t want to be overwhelmed by our growth, so we have benchmark every year that we set. Like, this year we are not admitting more a certain number, because if you bite more than you can chew, it becomes a problem. So we want to take the numbers that we know that we have facilities to train. What we do is to look at the ratio of our students to the teacher. Our standard is maximum of 20-25 students to a teacher. We want to make sure that at least, one teacher should be able to effectively coordinate the activities of 20-25 students. So, we try as much as possible to make sure that we stick to the ratio as the benchmark.
You know as some are leaving, many are coming in, then we go back and check the ratio again. This will also enable the teachers to have quality time and class periods to take per week without stretching them beyond their capacity. Because once they are overstretched their productivity will be low.
At the moment, what’s the population of the students?
In all, we have about 100 students and for the next session, we are not taking more than 60 students. Right now, we are nearing admitting that figure already.
Taraba Guber Poll: Tension Mounts As Appeal Court Decides, Today
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal will today deliver its verdict in the appeal brought by the All Progressive Congress (APC) seeking to reverse the judgment of the Taraba State Governorship Election Tribunal, which affirmed the re-election of Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party in the March 9, 2019 governorship poll in the state.
Already, there is mounting tension in the state among supporters of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, ahead of the judgment.
This is demonstrated by their large turn up in Abuja where the judgment will be delivered.
A three-man panel of the tribunal led by Justice M.O. Adewara had in a unanimous judgment of September 20, 2019, dismissed the petition by the APC and its candidate, Abubakar Danladi on the grounds that the petitioners failed to prove their claims that the election was marred by irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
The tribunal further held that Danladi was not qualified to contest the March 9 governorship election.
It would be recalled that before the March 9, 2019 governorship election, the Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo, Taraba State, had disqualfied Danladi and equally restrained his political party, the APC from Fielding him as a governorship candidate.
Attempts by Danladi to overturn the order of the Federal High Court that disqualified him were unsuccessful at Court of Appeal and Supreme Court respectively.
Following the above development, the petitioners had on July 10, 2019, withdrew the petition on ground of the disqualification of Abubakar Danladi by the Supreme Court and the petition was accordingly disimissed.
However, on July 13, 2019, the petitioners filed a motion and prayed for an order setting aside the order of dismissal and asked that the petition be relisted.
The tribunal on August 9, 2019 granted the petitioners motion, set aside the order of dismissal of the petition and same was relisted, thereafter, Danladi ceased to participate in the proceedings.
Delivering its judgement after close of hearing, the tribunal held that a Federal High Court in Taraba State had given a judgment on March 6, 2019, in a suit marked FHC/JAL/CS/01/2019, disqualifying Danladi from contesting the election.
It noted that the affirmation of the judgment by the Supreme Court implied that the APC had no valid candidate in the election.
Besides, the tribunal explained further that even if the petition was to be considered on the merits, the petitioners failed to lead sufficient evidence to establish their claims that the governor was not validly elected by a majority of lawful votes.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the tribunal, the All Progressive Congress, without its candidate, Danladi, approached the Court of Appeal marked CA/A/EPT/934/2019, on October 3, 2019, in petition No: EPT/TR/GOV/01/2019, for an order setting aside the decision of the tribunal.
In the said notice of appeal, the party contended that the tribunal erred in law and occasion a miscarriage of Justice in arriving at its decision dismissing the petition.
Meantime, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the Court of Appeal to dismiss the appeal with punitive cost as same is frivolous and unmeriterious.
The party in its brief of argument filed by its counsel, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN) noted that the appeal by the APC did not include the name of its candidate, Danladi as a person who would be directly affected by the outcome of the appeal.
Citing several case laws, Akuma argued technically, that a party to a suit is not allowed to unilaterally alter a case as constituted from the trial court and that names of parties must be maintained on appeal except as may be ordered by the court.
He submitted that, the unilateral alteration of the parties in the petition, as shown on the face of the notice of appeal, without the name of Danladi, who was the first petitioner at the tribunal renders the said notice of appeal incompetent and liable to be struck out.
Akuma specifically drew the attention of the Court of Appeal to its decision wherein it held thus: “It is now trite law that an appellant or a party seeking to appeal as an interested party cannot rearrange or reconstitute the parties to an action as constituted in the lower court at appellate court. The parties on record at the lower court must be retained at appellate level…the structure of the parties cannot by unilaterally changed or amended by any of the parties to an appeal.”
On the merit of the appeal, the PDP urged the Court of Appeal to hold that the appeal lacks merit and should be accordingly struck out.
The Court of Appeal is expected to give judgment today after the adoption of briefs of arguments by counsel to parties in the appeal.
Cleric Tasks Leaders On Citizens’ Welfare
A High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State capital, presided over by Hon. Justice E. Ita has ordered Governor Ben Ayade to conduct local government elections in the State.
The Court in a Suit No: HC/514/2018 filed by the APC through their Lawyer, Chief (Barr.) Utum Eteng against Governor Ben Ayade and the State Attorney-General, frowned seriously on the action of the defendants and stated that there was no alternative to obeying the constitution and the law in the matter of this nature.
The Court held that it is a breach of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution for Gov. Ayade not to conduct election to usher in a democratically elected Local Government as stipulated by section 7(1) of the constitution and section 2(1) of the CRS Local Govt. Law 2007. The Court said that more than three years after the expiration in December, 2018 of the democratically Local Government Councils put in place in December, 2015 by the Gov. Liyel Imoke led State Government the Ayade Government had not found it proper to do the needful by conducting Local Government elections into the 18 Local Government Councils in the State.
The Court also held that the representation put in place by APC members, Engr. Obono Onen, Ekaha Effiom, Hon. Polycab Effiom, Rt. Hon. Mkpanam Obo Ekpo and Benedict Lukpata, representing other APC Chairmanship candidates to the 18 Local Government Councils was in order pursuant to the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2008.
The APC had stated that Gov. Ayade and the CRSG had no constitutional power to stop conducting local government elections in the eighteen local government areas in the state. The APC was represented by Chief Utum Eteng, who led two other lawyers from his chambers, Barrister Jude Otakpor and Ihua-Maduenyi.
They commended the Court for being on the side of the clear and unambiguous provision of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution.
By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
Polls: SERAP Wants ICPC To Probe APC, PDP, Security Officials
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate whether the persistent crimes of corruption, violence and killings during elections in Nigeria, most recently in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and the repeated failure of the Nigerian authorities to address the crimes amount to violence against Nigerians and crimes against humanity.
The petition dated 16 November, 2019 was sent to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, ICC.
The organization urged Ms Bensouda: “to push for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, officials of the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and other actors who contributed to the corruption, violence and killings during the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and are therefore complicit in the crimes, to be tried by the ICC.”
In the petition signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“The incidents of bribery and corruption, intimidation and violence witnessed in Bayelsa and Kogi states also strike at the integrity of the democratic process and seriously undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption and end impunity of perpetrators.
“The desire for power at all costs by politicians undermines Nigerians’ rights to open, transparent and accountable government that respects human rights and observe the rule of law. Election-related corruption and violence make public officials susceptible to corrupt incentives.
“The Nigerian authorities over the years have been unwilling and/or unable to prosecute suspected perpetrators of election-related corruption, violence and killings, which in turn has promoted the sense of impunity and emboldened those politicians and their accomplices who continue to commit these crimes against the Nigerian people during election periods.
“The violent events witnessed in the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states suggest the lack of political will by the authorities and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to respect the sanctity and integrity of the electoral system and to apply criminal sanctions to perpetrators of corruption, violence and killings during elections.
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