Pastor Abraham Mojisola Ojetunde hails from Ilaji-Oke, Kajola Local Government Area of Oyo State. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Bachelor of Science (in Zoology) from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State and a Diploma in Education from the University of Ilorin, Kwara State. He has worked all his life in various Secondary School across Kajola Local Government. In September 2020, he became the President of All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools, (ANCOPSS) Oyo State chapter.
Our correspondent, Kayode Awojobi had a chat with him in commemoration of the World Teacher’s Day, the state of Education and his plans for Principals in the state. Excerpts below-
NEWSWINGS: Can you share with us, your journey in the teaching profession?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: It all started when I was in primary one that was in the year 1973. Mine can be regarded as inborn because right from my primary school days, whenever our teachers were teaching us then, I always catch up very well. So, that time, whenever our teachers already taught us for like 10 minutes, they would then ask for those that have a good understanding of what has been taught. Those days all these comprehension passages in the English Language are often written on the chalkboard, so the teacher will then gave us the long ruler to be tracing the words and we would read it to our classmates.
Right from that time, I have loved teaching and I can tell you that one of my happiest assignment is teaching and anytime I am before the students, I am excited. So the formal teaching started in November 1st, 1991 that was when I finished my National Youth Service in the year 1990. On a particular day, I was passing through Okeho-Iganna Grammar School, Okeho it was a Wednesday and Mr Adeegbe I.A saw me at a distance and he beckoned at me. Then he asked me of my educational experience and I told him I just concluded my service year, then he asked me if I can teach Chemistry and Biology and I told him I can. So, he took me to the principal of the school, the late Dn Moses Omolewu. God so good, I was told to resume on Friday because that day was a Wednesday as a PTA teacher and the following year, 18th of may 1992, I was given government appointment.
NEWSWINGS: As a way of reflecting, can you tell us from your experience, what’s the difference between Secondary school education in your own era and now that you have risen within the profession?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: In our time, students were enthusiastic about learning but the exposure of their parents was limited, so some of us will go to the cities to do conductor during holidays, some will go into menial jobs just to either augment what their parents give unto them or to pay for their school fees. So the passion was there for the student and that made us serious. But this time around, reverse is the case and only few of the students are willing and have passion for formal education, but the parents are the ones trailing them around and encouraging them to go to school. There are a whole lot of distractions that surrounds the world now and many of the students now believe that, without formal education, they can make it in life. This time around, I must tell you, we are spoon feeding the students.
NEWSWINGS: You’ve been a secondary school principal for years, what has been the journey to the top?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: It has been a mixture of feeling. You know what we call occupational hazard. Let me tell you one, there was a day Chief Adetutu of blessed memory came on inspection to the school I was, I was not the most senior principal, we do not have a vice principal then. So the man asked about the whereabouts of our principal then and I told him I do not know. Chief Adetutu lambasted me and told me I am more of a Pastor than a School Administrator so he told me I should tell my principal then to resume to Ibadan the following day which I did, although I didn’t know where the case ended. I could hardly forget that day and I can tell you that happened to be one of my saddest experience, because I was blamed for an offence I didn’t commit.
NEWSWINGS: Congratulations on your recent appointment as the President of ANCOPSS, this is a laudable leadership position, what are the things that has prepared you for this role?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: Actually right from my primary school days, I had a vision that I was going somewhere, but when? How? Where? That’s what I didn’t know. But one thing that has been guiding me is what the Bible says that “Whatever your hand findeth to do, do it with all your heart” so , I was given to perfection, for those who know me, I always to do my things perfectly, the dream of always wanting perfection that is keeping me all through.
NEWSWINGS: As someone from Oke-Ogun, are there people from this region that had attained this role before now?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: The only man I can remember is Chief Falade from Iseyin, though I’ve not being able to go through the list of those that has been president recently to confirm if there are others.
NEWSWINGS: What really spurred you to vie for this position, considering where you are coming from, Okeho?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: have always enjoyed the support of my peers right from time, I was once the President of Ilaji-Oke Learners Association, the secretary to the choir members in my church for years, class captain amongst other positions. Mr Sanni W.B nudged me when a position was able to be vacant in the association and that was the position of the first Vice President of ANCOPPPS and I asked him if he has consulted my other senior colleagues. He told me he would know how to settle that and later on he came to the public among our colleagues to declare the intention and they accepted me and when the vacancy for the presidency was upcoming he informed me again and told me to prepare for the position. ANCOPPS is a noble confederation we don’t usually go into open to cast vote, we always apply resolution before the day of election and if the resolution didn’t take place before the day of election, that is when we will go into electoral college because we have our constitution. I don’t think that has happened before, so before the election day, all the regions has all accepted me and the presidency was zoned to Oke-ogun.
NEWSWINGS: You are an ordained pastor and now the ANCOPPS President, don’t you think this position will have effect on your ministerial journey as the new position will call for the adoption of political tactics in delivering your responsibilities?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: If we study the Bible very well, there was politics there as well and I will show it to you, when Jesus was to go to the mount of transfiguration, he picked Peter, James and John, why will he pick Peter, because Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, but those three are inner circle of Jesus Christ, that’s a kind of politics. Another one was when Jesus was accused of not paying tributary and He asked Peter who are those to pay tributary and he said the strangers and Jesus told Peter that lest we offend them go to the river catch a fish there, open the mouth of the fish, the money you collect there, lest we offend them, pay for yours and mine. That’s another politics too. There was another time they brought the coin of Roman government to Jesus and he was asked that should they pay the tax and he asked them to give him the coin and on the coin he asked them the picture of whom was there and they told him it was Ceaser then he said, give unto Ceaser what is meant for Ceaser and to God what is meant for God and lastly in the book of 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 verse 31-32 it says, whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: it just a matter of balancing the equation. It is not a difficult task.
All along so far, I have not being finding it difficult, I have educated my lieutenant in the church that this is an assignment that is slated for given time and to the members too even in the Church. I have spoken to all of these people and also importantly, my family members; they are all involved- I will share with my wife and the children, because whatever vision you have, you cannot fulfill it all alone, you will need the support of others and it is fundamental for them to key into your vision. So like I said, there is no problem, it is just a matter of balancing.
NEWSWINGS: What’s your agenda for ANCOPSS and what are the changes you wish to bring into the association?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: In education, we have intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. I believe in intrinsic motivation. So we need training on education both for teachers and principals. Since I became a principal in the year 2014, I have never had any problem anywhere, but one thing I discovered why some of my colleagues do have problems in their school is that they do not practice open and close system of administration, so I believe if my colleagues can adopt this style, there won’t be any problem or any power tussle, so I have it in mind that I will take them through open and close system of administration, those are the vision I have for them so that there would be no problem. Since I came on ground there are some places that there are divisions and by the Grace of God, we’ve settled that.
NEWSWINGS: So far so good, how can you rate the contribution of the present Governor of Oyo state, Engr Seyi Makinde to the education sector in the state, compared to previous administration?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: Our Governor can be referred to as God sent governor, even the pepper sellers in market can attest to this. For now, we can refer to our governor as the Moses of our time who is taking us from the land of captivity to the land of promise.
NEWSWINGS: Oyo state now runs a free education scheme in both primary and secondary schools, do you think this will bring the expected result?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: By the grace of God, the system would need our support and cooperation. Education does not bring immediate result, it takes time, and if we are able to follow this development, it would bring the expected result and everything will make a brilliant turn around in no time.
NEWSWINGS: This year’s International Teacher’s Day came with promises from the federal government on the salary of teachers and service year, what’s your position on this?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: I was at Ibadan for the celebration of teacher’s day with many key leaders in the state. I must tell you the promises gladdens the heart of every teachers because right from time, there has been encomium on the federal and state government. If the lecturers in institutions of higher learning could get extension in their service year, there is nothing bad if we got same because that would allow people with more experience to stay for long and as popularly said, experience is the best teacher.
NEWSWINGS: Over the years, people have complained about the drop in the quality of education over the years, what should be done to address this challenge?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: When we are talking about quality of education, most of the time, they traced the drop on the standard to teachers whereas, the factors surrounding teaching and learning includes; the parents, students, society, government and teachers. So when we talk about quality of education, curriculum has not been lowered and to tell you the truth, what is now on the curriculum is more higher than what it used to be in our own time, but the problem is the pursuit of the curriculum on how effective has it been on the life of the learners and why the low in the standard is because the 5 factors I raised earlier are not taking to their responsibilities as expected. In our own time, the teachers were devoted with their money, time and they care for the students and I’m reiterating this to the teachers and students that has passed through me and those that are still under me. Before the stoppage of food vendors in the school, I give my foods from the school food vendors most of the time to the hungry student, I always identify one and that will serve as a motivation to such student because he or she would be happy to be the one that ate the principal’s meal and there are occasion where I reward the students openly on the assembly ground anytime I ask a question and somebody is able to answer satisfactorily, I will encourage such student. What has really affected the standard of education is the individual’s passion which is yet to get to the expected position. If all of us could be ready to discharge our responsibilities creditably well, I believe there would be a turn around for the better.
NEWSWINGS: As regards the decaying infrastructure in school, what’s should be done to revamp the structures?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: A lot of things can be done, one of them is that all stakeholders in education should rise up to their responsibilities. I’ve worked in many places whereby the people always support the government. For instance, in Idiko-Ago, when I got there, they has an acre of cashew plantation which is bringing dividends to school aside from what the government was giving us that time, before I left the school as well, I planted 2 acres of Cashew plantation, I want to believe that by now, the result would have been there. So everybody should go back to the drawing board and think of what should be their contribution to the society. I major in Biology and there is something we call ecological reach we call it functionary role of every living things. There is a reason for you to be in existence, when you are no longer useful, that means, you’ve expired. When I got to Baptist High School, Okeho, there were infrastructural deficits there and I reach out to the stakeholders such as Ayanfe Kristi Baptist Association and Living Stone Baptist Association. I attended their quarterly meetings where I gave reports. They rose up to the challenge by contributing sufficient amount of money; we bought bundles of corrugated roofing sheets for the roofing of the laboratory. I believe the stakeholders and government need to collaborate and they will make huge impact in the revamp of our schools.
NEWSWINGS: There is a decline in the quantity of people being trained as teachers, what are the incentives that you think can encourage young people to take to teaching?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: The graph has started picking up now. I don’t want to say more than that.
NEWSWINGS: As you won’t be in this office forever, what are the things you want your administration to be remembered for?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT: Transparency, accountability and great achievement.
NEWSWINGS: What is your message to the teachers as we celebrate International Teacher’s Day?
ANCOPSS PRESIDENT I want them to see themselves has been unique. The teachers are unique, because nobody becomes anything without them