A week long valedictory service and prize giving ceremonies were held at various units of Chrisland Schools, Lagos from Sunday, July 10, to Saturday, July 16, 2011. It was their 19th valedictory service and prize giving day. The chairman, founder of Chrisland Educational Organisation, High Chief Dr. (Mrs.) W. A. Awosika (OON) was present at vitually all the units, each time giving valuable words of advise and her usual motherly support. On Thursday, July 28, 2011, Dr. (Mrs.) Winifred Awosika went a step forward to commission the science laboratory for Opebi Primary School students. ENCOMIUM Weekly was at the event and chatted with her. She spoke on sundry issues.
Do you think it is necessary to fill the gap between private and public schools?
I have always said it in my speeches, it is necessary to care for students generally be it from private or public schools. It is for the safety of the children. If some are so affluent and some are extremely poor, there will be conflict every time. The gap must be filled for the benefit of the society if not for any other thing. Most of us went to public schools and we are able to write and achieve many things. Give these children the opportunity and they will make Nigeria better and proud.
Why did you decide to build a science laboratory for Opebi Primary School amongst all the public schools in Lagos?
This our community, I have been in Opebi for 47 years. I refused to move to Ikoyi or other communities.
Research shows that the use of Blackberry is lowering the standard of education, do you agree with this?
I don’t think it is lowering it, but we should not allow our students to depend on it. We don’t allow it in our boarding school because it brings about addiction and the child will not be able to think fast. In those days, we don’t even allow our children to use calculator in the classrooms in order to allow them think. Some children are spoilt, their parents give them all sorts of things but we don’t allow it in our boarding school. If a child really needs to speak to his or her parents, they go to their housemasters.
The standard of education has fallen drastically, what do you think is responsible?
There are many factors responsible for the fallen standard of education in Nigeria. I went to University of Ibadan, in my time, I had a room to myself. I had a wardrobe. I had a personal reading table, I had a book shelf. When we got into the university, we had more than enough to eat and drink but by the time we left, things started changing. There were more people, students hardly get food to eat, no books to read, no library and all other things that can make a student ready to learn. Things are changing downwards but the unfortunate things are that Nigeria can afford to give us good education. We have the resources so, if the resources are not provided, what happens? The infrastructure are dilapidated, teachers are not dedicated to their job and are not even passionate about it. So, what do you expect?
At a particular time, former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel gave out some schools to missionaries but lately, the state assembly gave these schools back to Federal Government saying that the way it was done was not legal. Don’t you think that transferring some schools to missionaries yielded positive results?
We must have cooperation between state and federal government. There should be no conflict, they should think of the people and not political differences. What I have discovered is that the missionaries are no longer around to do what they were doing in those days. The government can try but if they select good people, they can still carry on from where the missionairies stopped. Whether the schools are run by missionaries of government, the aim and objective should be the same in terms of quality.
Chrisland was established in 1977 and the standard has never fallen till date. What has been the source of your strength?
We have always aimed at excellence and quality and we have sustained these. My daughter, who is now in charge is very, very determined to maintain standard and we have set up many strategies to make sure that our standards are maintained. We believe in quality.
You started Chrisland with just five students, two were your children but now, Chrisland is one of the best schools in Lagos. What is the secret of the success?
When I started Chrisland, I wasn’t thinking of money. I just wanted to do something good for the society. I didn’t think of business. My children saw how passionate I was about it and they are really working very hard to help me maintain that passion. The fear of God and love for children also pushed me into it. My heart is always bubbling with love. I love children because they are to be loved and guided to do what they’ve come to do in the world. Every child brought a gift to the world. So, let us bring them up so that the gifts can unfold.
What is your advise to youths?
Many youths are frustrated because things are not the way they wished. A lot of youths go into cultism and practice all sorts of evil because they are frusrrated. The more effeort we make to stop that the better for us. We parents and educators have a lot to do. We must continue to help youths in search of the right path and follow it. Youths should endeavour to be hard working, educated, honest and prayerful.
You are looking so beautiful at your age, what is the secret?
My heart is filled with love. If you have love in your heart, it will shine out.
At this stage, what do you want God to do for you that He has not done?
We are like Oliver twist, we keep asking for more blessings, more grace, more wealth and everything. God is so wonderful because even if we have everything and still ask for more, He answers our prayers and that is why it is very important to have a close relationship with God and he will see us through. God has done so many things in my life but I keep asking for more. I want Him to give me sound health, more blessings and every good thing life can offer because I know he loves me.
What would you love to be remembered for?
As a woman, who love and spreads love. I am not tribalistic, I am liberal. If you are a Muslim, Christian or whatever, you are my sister, you are my brother. I don’t discriminate.
What are some of the things you loved doing that age has deprived you of?
I don’t think there is any. I still work, I exercise regularly and I can still walk around although not long distance. I think God is gracious to me. So, I have a lot to thank Him for.
What is your most precious possession?
My children, they are my most precious possessions although they are God’s children. I am just a care taker. If we cannot develop the spirit of love and sharing, then we are not worth living. Why should Muslim and Christians fight when we are all worshipping the same God?
Since your daughter is in charge of the school now, what then keep you busy these days?
I read a lot, I used to travel a lot but recently, I had to reduce it because of old age.
As a successful woman what do you consider as the secret of success?
Be God fearing, be free minded, love humanity, do your best for the society, be hard working, be prayerful and determined.
What is your definition of success?
To so many people, success is all about money but success is not all about money by my own opinion because God will bless you if you are doing the right thing. God will definitely bless you.
What are you most grateful to God for?
The breath of life, my children and the ability to show love.
-FAITH MOTOYINBO AND SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN
*This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, August 2, 2011