Personality interview with CEO/FOUNDER CITA International School
Madam Peggy Adukeh
How I Started A 40-Year-Old School With Low Capital
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1. When you started CITA International School 40 years ago, did you ever think you will be where you are today?
Definitely not, I started Nursery school and I was quite satisfied with having a nursery school, but as time passed, there was the need to expand and this was driven mostly by parents looking for where their children who had finished Nursery school will go. So from nursery, we graduated to primary and then finally, secondary school. But in all, starting with a proper nursery building, then looking for a primary school structure took time, and the fact that all these are capital -intensive slow down the process and I can’t believe that and I don’t know where the money came from but from one stage to the other, we have been able to do a lot and I’m happy with the structures and the standard that we have attained.
2. For 40 years now, you have been working with children and have occupied an important position in the Education Sector in Rivers State and in Nigeria at large, what can you say are the Impacts of Private schools in Nigeria using CITA as a case study?
40 years ago, the public schools were not as run-down as they are today, and we had professional teachers in public schools and when they retired, they went ahead and open private school, and at that time, most of the private schools were in garages and shacks. The public schools were better because of the infrastructure but as time went on, the private schools evolved and we started having proper school buildings that competed favorably with the public schools and eventually when the public schools started running down, the private schools were the foundation of education, they were the ones that held up the quality of education. So at the end, you find out that the private schools are virtually taken over from the public schools and I think they are doing very well.
3. How has your school impacted its immediate environment?
In CITA, we strive to have certain qualities; discipline, order, and excellence, and these has gone out to the environment. Everybody knows that there have to be discipline around CITA. In CITA, we like excellence; our students and teachers have all gone out to project this image around Port- Harcourt. The trainings we’ve had have impacted not only the students in CITA but every other child that every staff comes in contact with, the children as well have done the same. I think we’ve come a long way in projecting these qualities.
4. As a woman, you have served as the Secretary to the Rivers State chapter of World Organization for Early Childhood Education and also nominated to represent Standard Chartered Africa at the Women in Business Summit, how can you relate that to the importance of Girl-child Education?
Organization for Early child Education (OMEP) is an organization that I enjoyed working for. As the secretary, I was opportune to meet a lot of university professors and highly placed educational personnel. Even though we had a membership of male professors, publishers, and the likes, the organization was driven mostly by women. We were like “foot soldiers”. We worked together and synchronized the way we dispensed our services.
Going to represent standards chartered in Singapore was an honor because at that submit, four women worldwide were honored. I represented Africa with CITA.
For the girl child, we always think that it’s either they don’t go to school at all because they can learn a skill like hairdressing, bead making, and the likes, which I don’t believe will not get the child anywhere. If those women who attended that submit could attain that position, I think if the girl child is given equal opportunities, they will supersede our expectations. If we can raise the self of girls even when they are in school 5o make them understand that they have a right to be educated and that they can do anything they put their hands to do, then I think it will be easier to erase the stigma about the girl child to put more effort into raising them.
5. How has been your students’ performance in external examinations?
They have performed well because from the onset of their time with us, we set an environment, even when we have terminal examination, we have the set up of external examinations, so there is no difference with when they get into the hall for external examinations, they are relaxed and no nervousness for any examination. In CITA, we have a policy that no student will repeat an exam or repeat a class, so we make sure that the teachers work hard and the students also work hard because they know they only got one shot at the external examination. We have done exceptionally well in that aspect.
6. You have been involved in setting up quite a number of schools within Rivers State by dedicating your time to support and train teachers from different schools, how has this been of impact in the lives of people?
CITA has been involved in equipping quite a number of schools in rural areas of South East, Northern, and South-South Nigeria as well as Liberia and in the training of their teachers. We sent some furniture, books and render tremendous assistance to different schools including schools in my village.
7. Over the years, CITA has been involved in Humanitarian activities in equipping schools in rural areas, has there been any form of Partnership in this act with the government?
No, I think it will be better for us to work solo, so there won’t be a conflict of interest.
8. What can you say about the school’s Alumni and their achievements so far?
I am so proud of the alumni, it has paid off. We expose the children to extracurricular activities; we expose them to academic activities and social work. We get them to understand that there are less privileged children and they empathize with them. So at the end of their six years program, they have a holistic education. We also have a programme called “Pre-Career Attachment Programme “, which exposes them to their career choices, so they spend two weeks at those places of interest and with that, they hit the ground running when they get into university. They don’t have time to decide whether they have made the wrong choices or not. At the end of it all, you find out they are focused- high-performance students in the university.
A student who was at one point ahead boy in my school felt insulted when he was given a calculus test in his university in the United State. He felt it was below his status. When he hastened it, they called his father to ask where he trained. The father came here and we were all jubilating. It was a high point for me.
That is just one success story, it cuts across all countries, and our students in foreign countries are all doing exceptional. They are focused and they come back with success stories. Some are doctors, some are lawyers, engineers and they will always be my children, I am so proud of them.
9. Share your best advice to Stakeholders in the Education Sector (Parents, Students, and Teachers).
40 years ago, education was a triangle, parents, teachers, and students; in recent years, the triangle has disappeared. Parents feel that once they pay fees, the job is left to the school. For parents, I will say, when you have a child, you need to dedicate 18 years of your life to that one child. So, if you want to have seven children, you need to dedicate 18years of your life to every one of those children.
The trend now is that we are not ‘’parenting’’ and it has given the children a lop-sided education, so I pray that parents will go back to parenting their children.
The school has so many children but you have your own child and you have your own culture to instill in your child, and when you are looking for a school, you look for the culture of that school that coincides with your own so that you know what you want out of your child.
For students, these days, we are always in a hurry, every child wants to be a millionaire. It takes hard work, students should learn to be focused. They are different strata in life, there are no short cuts, and you have to make sure you study and pass those exams and the baseline is your school certificate, you get it you can do anything because from there you can be anything you want. If you want to go into business, you are able to read, write and learn.
The internet is not always bad, on the internet we have online courses for those who can’t go to proper university, so for students, I pray you be focused.
For teachers, do not seat on your world. You have a degree but you have to learn to better yourself; there is no excuse about not having money because there is a lot in the world today to better yourself.
For you to be a professional teacher you need to improve on your self-esteem and that has to do with your spoken and written English. Also, study your students, know how they learn, then you can now adapt to the way they learn, understanding and absorption will now become so easy.
If all of us work together, we will make the next generation a pleasant one.
CEO, CITA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PH