He is an educationist par excellence; a man with a deep passion for education. Although he did not attend a high brow schools, he rose to become an expert in teaching and he has produced many successful people and he is still hoping to produce more for the benefit of the nation. Bishop (Dr.) Tom Samson is one of those who delved into Christian Education with his Royal City College of Education in Iyesi, Ota in Ogun State. The clergyman oversees Christ Royal Family International Church. He spoke with the media recently on the activities of the institution and the way forward for Nigeria during the final accreditation processes of his College of Education by NCCE led by Mr. Vitalis Uji, a Deputy Director, Academic Planning.
Tell us about the process regarding the accreditation of your college?
We have representatives from the NCCE in Abuja for full accreditation of all the courses we offer at Royal City College of Education (RCCE). You know, after the provisional approval of the college by the NCCE at the onset, we were given some courses to run for sometime while they monitored our compliance. But today they are back here for assessment of what we have done and how well we have complied with the provisional courses given to us so they can permit us to run full programme. We are aiming to take the college to the next level as far as imparting education to our children is concerned.
There is this belief that a school like Royal City College of Education’s status must have quality and befitting equipment to really impart the necessary knowledge to students. How prepared are you on this?
Yes, I can tell you with full confidence that we are fully prepared because we have all the equipment needed by our students to gain more knowledge. The NCCE came all the way from Abuja to inspect our facilities and I must tell you that they are very satisfied with what they saw on ground. They know that we followed the minimum requirement in terms of facilities for the establishment of such institution of higher learning. They were satisfied with what they saw in our campus and with this we believe the school would get to its desired position.
I understand that the college was initially accredited to run about 9 courses. Between the period of provisional admission and now, do you think the college has utilised the modules to the fullest?
To answer you, Yes. And from the inspection of facilities we have on ground, I think they are very satisfied because we have followed the syllabus judiciously. They have been here for two days now, looking at our facilities, it’s been so satisfactory.
Is the school planning to add any additional courses into its syllabus?
I don’t think we need that for now; because it’s not all about having additional courses but doing it well, we want a situation where the country’s educational level will go higher. We know that there are challenges in today’s education and that is why we are trying to sensitise people to come into the area of teachers’ education. Just take a look into the rate of poverty and unemployment in the country. Right now, we have people studying Chemistry who end up teaching what they didn’t read and Civil Engineers also finding themselves in equal circumstances. A lot of people come from other disciplines and end up teaching but are not qualified. That is why we have diploma programmes for those who are graduates in other fields but not in education area but have interest in teaching. In case you are a graduate, we are now running a diploma programme where you can now do some courses in the area of education. All we are pleading for is government’s support; they just have to assist in this area by creating adequate awareness about the importance of teaching education. Teachers are very valuable and important to the society. If you observe really well, the only engagement that creates easy employment for people nowadays is teaching because there are so many schools and they are in short supply of teachers. Painfully, there are so many people who want to go into teaching job, but how many want to go into teaching education?
How long has Royal City College of Education been operating now?
We have been operating since the last three years. What led me into investing in this teaching education is just the passion and not because of profit. If you look inwards, it is not profitable. Now, if you look at my background, my primary school, I went to Catholic schools. The secondary school I attended was an Islamic schools and my university was state-owned and one way or the other, I have benefitted and I felt it’s time to give back. One of the ways I think I can give back to the society is through education so I have to invest heavily in education. I’m an education graduate having read Biology Education in Bendel State University. If you look at the rate of cultism in many of our universities, even in secondary schools now you find cultism thriving. If teachers graduate from these schools what do you expect from them? If people lack moral and you entrust your children in their care, what would you expect? For instance, where a teacher is cursing a child “you are crazy”, you know at formative age, it’s what you inculcate in a child that he will grow up with. We need to groom teachers that will teach pure education and moral.
Most of the missionary schools today in Nigeria are very expensive and in most cases unaffordable by their congregations. What’s your take on this?
Not all. You see, when you want to generalize issues like that it can be misleading. For instance, I have schools in Egbeda, Ikeja, etc. and my fees are moderate. If you want to look at it, naturally speaking, schools are expensive to run. Look at teachers, the graduates among them want to earn as much as N100,000 and above. So, paying teachers is quite expensive. Then look at instructional materials. Here we have laboratories. To build a laboratory costs almost about N5 million. So like I said, it’s quite expensive to run a school but in my own case I have the passion to give back to the society. My school can be accessed by any average home.
Can you tell us about the causes of cultism and other social vices on campuses?
You see, there are so many people to be blamed on this issue you are talking about, the parents, teachers, government and even the students themselves. Parents will leave their kids in the care of the school authorities without recourse to what they do at school, hence, it depends on the way the schools handle such children. In order to stop this menace, parents have to consider sending their children and wards to Christian Colleges of Education because we do not have many of such schools as we have many Christian universities and polytechnics. Christian Colleges of Education, apart from teaching morals, would also impact positively the lives of children that will in turn be employed in other institutions to inculcate morals in the children. The fact remains that it is only the Colleges of Education that can really produce genuine teachers and not the other way round. Nowadays, you see schools employing Civil Engineers as Mathematics teachers and all that it is absolutely wrong. If we actually look at the population of this country, our schools are not still enough, so our government should once again please create awareness on the importance of employing qualified teachers in our schools because the idea of employing non-teachers is really affecting our educational system in Nigeria. If we are complaining about the poor standard of our education sector, have we asked ourselves, who are the teachers? Who are the lecturers? Are they well trained? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves.
Let us delve a little bit into Nigeria’s politics, there is this idea of pastors and prophets prophesying on elections and the 2015 polls is not left out. Many have come out with different prophesies contradicting one another. What would you say on this?
Well, even in the bible, over one issue, so many prophets have their views. You see, let me tell you one thing again, some of these people who call themselves pastors use their prophesies to draw politicians’ attention, they are in business. Imagine if a prophet predicts that a certain governor from a certain region would die, every governor would begin to run to the prophet. This is how he makes his own cash. So, they have so much commercialised their prophesies that no one believes in them anymore.
So how do you rate the chances of the major contestants in the election?
Well, I am not a politician but all I believe is that Nigerians should do the right thing by voting for the candidate of their choice. Do not be ethnic-minded; do not be controversial with your votes.