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Anambra @ 30

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Principals of some award winning schools in Anambra State spoke to NKIRUKA EZEDINUGWU on how the schools transformed to achieve academic excellence. Excerpts

Partnership of govt, church ensures Anambra’s academic excellence – Okonkwo

WHEN was your school established?

  Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha, was established in 1986, formally with the name Social Centre Secondary School. However, in 2007, it was renamed Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha.

  How was your school before and after the state’s creation and how is it today?

  Established in 1986, our school has been in existence before the creation of Anambra State in 1991. That time, it was still at the infancy stage. At the moment however, the school is seriously making great progress in the academic excellence and character formation of her students, thanks to our proprietor – the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Dr. Valerian M. Okeke and the support of the Anambra State Government.

  What do you think contributed to Anambra’s academic excellence generally?

  The excellent academic performance witnessed in schools today is as a result of the partnership between the government and the church. Also, the fight against examination malpractice and miracle centres embarked upon by Anambra State Ministry of Basic Education is highly appreciated and has contributed to academic excellence in the state.

  What is your school doing differently that made it excel in education above others and how do you hope to sustain it?

  Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha, is known for holistic training and formation of her students: intellectual, spiritual and human formation. The type of training obtainable in our school goes a long way in developing the totality of the human person: a student who is academically balanced and at the same time has the fear of God becomes a good citizen of the state and pride of the parents.

  Another element that distinguishes us is that in the academic formation of our students, we go beyond the classroom work and engage our students in many extracurricular activities like music, robotics, sports, etc. All these activities widen their horizons and ways of thinking.

  We know very well that one thing is to do good while the other is to sustain the good. As such, Regina Pacis is making great efforts to sustain the success she has made by ensuring steady supervision of the activities of both staff and students in order to make everyone queue into the vision and mission of the school which is excellence in academic and character.

  These exactly have contributed in all we have achieved. It has resulted in the improvements in our results in both internal and external examinations. We have also participated in competitions where our capacity has been tested over time and we have excelled. In 2019, we attended the International Festival of Engineering Science and Technology (I-FEST) which took place in Monastir-Tunisia. About 30 countries were in attendance and over 251 projects examined.

We came back with Bronze. This is at the international level. At the regional level in 2021, the Society of Petroleum Engineers sponsored by both Shell and Total Oil Companies organised a Stem Fair for schools in South-South and South-East and we emerged as Champions. We have also excelled at state, local government and archdiocesan levels. The list is endless. We don’t rest; we keep working to make teaching and learning activities successful.

  How do you want the state to be in the next 30 years?

 I dream of a state where excellence is a watchword in all sectors, a state where other states come to learn and see how and where things are done best.

  I wish Anambra State well as we celebrate 30 years of existence. May God bless all of us!

(Rev. Fr. Paschal Okonkwo is the principal, Regina Pacis Model Secondary School Onitsha)

Schools’ environment, now more conducive – Onyebuchi

WHEN was your school established?

  St. John’s Science and Technical College, Alor was established in 1958 by the missionaries who brought education to this part of the world. It is owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha. It is one of the technical schools in Anambra Sate. However, St. John’s College, Alor is unique in the sense that it has two schools in one school.

It is both a science as well as a technical school. The technical school has three departments: Electrical Installation and Maintenance  Work (EIMW), Building, Blocklaying and Concreting (BBC), wielding and Fabrication (W/F). our students who finish from her become immediate employers of labour if they do not want to go to the university. this is because they already have a craft.

  How was your school before and after the state’s creation?

  Being among the schools forcefully seized and mismanaged after the war, it passed through a process of terrible dilapidation. There was no difference when the old Anambra and the new Anambra States were in charge. A critical developmental stride came in time when these schools were returned to their original owners: the Church. The government of Gov. Peter Obi did this magic.

  Since then, it has been a success story. The government of Chief Willie Obiano has also continued in the stride. So, one can say that the schools have been the same but only changed when administration changed. The marriage between the Church and the state has really done well.

  How is it today?

  St. John’s College, Alor, today is a success story. It has become a leading Boys’ School to reckon with nationally and internationally. Today, we have over 1000 students and have become the hub of quality education. It is both the City of Gentlemen and the Honeycomb of Talents. Gradually, it has also been progressively passing through a process of rebuilding in terms of infrastructure. Thanks to our proprietor, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Valerian Okeke, the Archbishop of Onitsha and also the government of His Excellency, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano, the state governor. The school environment is now more conducive, we have even more teachers per capita. Today, we give glory to God.

  What do you think contributed to Anambra’s academic excellence generally?

  The excellence we see today in education in Anambra State cannot be attributed to just one reason.  It is a product of interconnected reasons and foundations built by different levels of stakeholders overtime. Talking about education in Anambra State, I can comfortably say that the following are involved as major stakeholders: first, the government of Mr Peter Obi who not just invested so much in education, but handed the schools back to missionaries.

Second is the government of His Excellency, Chief Dr Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano, who has continued from where his predecessor stopped and has not looked behind. Again, the major pilot in the flight of education has really navigated the craft so well.  The Commissioner for Basic Education, Prof kate Omenugha by her resilience has taken education to the blue sky. In all, I will say that proper management has really contributed in no mean measure.

  What is your school doing differently that made it excel in education above others and how do you hope to sustain it?

  St. John’s College, Alor, there are lots of things we do differently as school that have made us excel in education. However, one that has become pre-eminent is that ‘we try to do more than the curriculum stipulates’. Many other schools try their best to meet the requirement of the curriculum but we try to go beyond the curriculum. This convinced attitude has really gone so deep in the psyche and blood of each of us; the management, teachers, parents, students etc. So you see that for us, there is nothing like wasting time. We are always on our toes developing talents, addicted to bettering ourselves and bringing out the best in our students.

  Again, we resolve and take it as a point of duty to avoid shortcuts. We have a culture of excellence. Excellence is then seen as an attitude. It runs in all our programs and actions for example; zero tolerance to exam malpractice, balanced staff welfare, entrepreneurial skills acquisition etc.

  Our idea and project lead is that when a student finishes from our school, he becomes an entrepreneur and immediately begins to contribute to the nation’s economy.

  How do you want the state to be in the next 30 years?

  I wish that Anambra State continues to build on the success already registered. This will continue to make Anambra State and what she produces become globally competitive. So in the next 30 years, I expect Anambra State to become a hub of excellence, development, progress and best-standard practices where others can come from all round the world to learn and copy.

  I wish Anambra State a resounding celebration of 30years of existence. May she be blessed even more in Jesus nam, Amen!!

(Rev. Fr. Francis Onyebuchi Unegbu (Ph.D) is the principal, St. John’s Science and Technical College, Alor)

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