|Head Girl's interview|
Could you provide an insight into how Henry Alex-Duduyemi Memorial College started?The College was established on the 24th November 1997 following a request by the Ajebandele Community in which we are located for a secondary school. The proprietor, Chief Oyekunle Alex-Duduyemi decided to name the College after his father, late Henry Aliu Olaore Alex-Duduyemi, the Parakoyi of Ile-Ife. Its initial conception as a community school changed and It has evolved over the past 15 years to what it is today- a truly international school committed to academic excellence for young men and women from all backgrounds. The success of this can be seen from our outstanding results.
What actually informed the establishment of the college and when did it take off?The College was established by the Proprietor to give back to his community as well as fulfil a life-long dream. In his inaugural speech, he defined his motivation as wanting “to build well-rounded Nigerian youth that are not only going to be leaders of different sectors of the Nigerian economy but also function effectively as world citizens”. We believe that this lofty aim has been realised in all of our students.
The founder, Chief Henry Alex-Duduyemi, is a positive-minded person and a visionary. How has the management of the college been able to translate his ideas and visions into training and churning out nation’s builders from the school?
The focus of the college has always been the creation of the “Total Child”. We endeavour to foster an environment where our students attain academic excellence, possess high moral and ethical values and are conscious of their roles in the society while still protecting the innocence of childhood. Our students are taught the importance of traditional values ie respect for elders, community and selves The Proprietor has provided solid infrastructure comparable to the best schools within and outside the country. Our modern educational facilities are conducive to effective teaching and learning and our staff are second to none.
Our policy of “a home away from home” boarding experience defines the pastoral policy of the college. Our students are happy and confident. Discipline is firm but fair.
We are very fortunate to be situated in Ile-Ife, a quiet serene town, approximately two hours drive from Lagos. Our proximity to the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University offers our students opportunities for interaction at various levels.
Are there any missing gaps in the nation’s educational system that the management of the college has noticed and will want HAMEC to fill?
The main problem with the nation’s educational system is the curriculum. As it stands it does not give children the skills necessary to cope in the international world. Children are taught a dizzying number of subjects. This too often leads to learning of facts in isolation. This means that the students do not know how to apply their learning to their lives. We hear that there are no jobs for the millions of graduates in the country but the issue is that most graduates are not suited to world class organisations. Employers are looking for people who are self-starters, broad and creative and who can think outside the box.
Education is not only book learning. To be all of these things, children need to be exposed to so much more. They should be challenged, they should be allowed to explore and develop their own potential. We place emphasis on the co-curricular such as sports, Arts & Music, Leadership training as we seek to train not only the mind but the body and soul of our students.
To be able to do this, we also need to ensure that our teachers are given the right skills to deliver on our promise. To this end, we are constantly training and exposing them to modern teaching methods. We are extremely selective in our recruitment practices and this has paid off in the dedication of our staff and their total commitment to the mission and vision of the college. Consequently, they go the extra mile to ensure the effective delivery of the curriculum.
How would you describe the academic performance of students in the college so far, especially in public examinations conducted both in the country and abroad?The academic performance of our students has always been far above the national average. In the past four years we have seen a steady improvement such that the school is averaging a 95% pass rate in public exams. This year, 99% of our students achieved A-C in the WAEC garnering at least seven credits each including maths and English. We also achieved our highest UTME score of 282. We attribute this to our enhanced curriculum which is in essence the Nigerian curriculum taught in the international way. This allows our students to go beyond rote learning and to get a full understanding of the subject as it encourages research and exploration. To this end, they are better placed to compete with their peers all over the world. Consequently they are able to sit for both state and National Exams as well as the UTME. We are also a Cambridge University accredited centre for the IGCSE.
Does HAMEC have affiliation with any college(s) abroad? If not, is there any plan in the offing to connect it with good school(s) abroad and possibly start exchange programmes with such college(s)?We are in the process of establishing links with schools and colleges abroad so that our graduating students will have a wider option at the end of their time with us.
What are some of the future plans of the college’s management to reposition it for greater achievements?For the most part, we have been concentrating on laying a solid academic foundation and track record and have consequently been somewhat reclusive. However, our consistently high academic results coupled with the exemplary moral behaviour of our students have propelled us into the limelight somewhat. We are now embarking on the next stage of our development which is to increase the number of students that we offer this to.
As an educationist, what would you say is wrong with Nigeria’s wobbling educational system and how have you been able to build a world class college as well as produce enormously resourceful and successful students, judging from their brilliant performance in the recent time?
The nation’s educational system is in turmoil because successful governments have failed to give it the necessary priority. How else is the country supposed to develop if the human resources are not properly equipped to contribute to that development? This has given rise to the emergence of hundreds of private school striving to fill the gap.
However, setting up and running a school is not for the faint-hearted. You need to be focused on your goals to the exclusion of everything. To achieve your goals, you need to have the right human resources who buy into that goal and go all out to achieve them. You need supportive parents who understand what you are trying to achieve, encourage you and offer constructive criticism where necessary. We are indeed very fortunate to have all this at HAMEC.
Fees in private colleges in Nigeria are said to be exorbitant and far beyond the reach of the less privileged. What about your college, not forgetting the fact that the founder is a philanthropist who wishes to give back to his community?
We believe that we offer exceptional value for money. What greater investment can a parent make than in the future of their own children and thus in the future of this great country. There are many private schools whose fees are much higher than ours. We ask ourselves all the time, ‘Does this expense increase the standard of the education that our students are receiving?’
We pay a fair wage to our teaching staff and can therefore recruit the best and train them to the highest standard. We give our teachers the best resources. However we could substantially reduce our fees if the electricity supply was consistent and we did not have to run our own generators, We run these to ensure that our students live and learn in the best conditions. Or if we could exert some level of control on prices of food, books etc. We are fortunate being in Ife as the cost of living is less than Lagos.
We currently have a couple of scholarship schemes in the school. The first, Ajebandele Community Scholarship, currently in its fourth year, offers a full 6 year scholarship to one pupil from the Community primary school every year. The second, The Asiwaju of Ile-Ife Scholarship was started last year and is funded by the Proprietor, who wished to give indigenous Ife students from the public school system an opportunity for world class education. Recipients are awarded a full 6 year scholarship. It is a testament to these schemes the current scholars are in the top 20 percentile of their classes.
What are the challenges of the college since its inception and how do you think they can be overcome?The challenges are myriad. Day to day challenges include such things as increasing running costs ie diesel, food etc. Ensuring strict adherence to the policies of the school constantly puts us on a collision course with different groups. There are many who believe that we are swimming against a current in trying to insist on such things as discipline, morals, ethics and academic excellence achieved through hard work. We make no apologies. These are the building blocks of HAMEC!