EDUCATION is said to be the most viable asset that be bestowed on anyone. It is the panacea to economic, political, social and other vices. Education unlocks doors to world possibilities, wealth creation, religious tolerance, political stability, economic and social advancement. An educated Nation is a wealthy nation.
It then stands to reason that education should be a right and not a privilege. Needless to say that like every commodity, the price might be high but not costlier than ignorance. Be this as it may, the next question is who foots the bill if we concur that education should be citizens’ right?
One is inclined to suggest that government should bear the cost. But government alone cannot tackle everything in education sector considering paucity of funds and other competing demands. Hence, the need for total involvement in this all important sector.
Granted that the education sector has recorded unprecedented support from individuals, businesses and private sectors, old students’ association presents an untapped virgin forest for new friendship and funds.
Old Students’ Associations
Far beyond the quest to belong and associate with one another, Old Boys and Girls are very influential and esteem organisations of past students of secondary schools. Some of them date back to the year the school produced its pioneer graduates.
Others still are being established. Old Boys and Girls have collectively and individually registered their presence in most of the secondary schools in Anambra State. Specifically, they have been involved in infrastructural development, academic support programmes, social support services to name but a few.
Concept of old boys and girls
As stated earlier, the fundamental idea of these associations go beyond “a meet- and- greet sessions with surplus drinks and assorted food. It is no longer about rewinding of the good old days. According to Ladi Lawanson, King’s College, Lagos Old Boys, “the concept of Old Students Association is a means of giving hope and support to current students of such schools.”
Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje observed that “there a number of old students that are performing very well in their respective former schools and all they are doing contribute greatly in boosting learning especially at present when government alone cannot tackle everything in educational sector.”
For Oby Ezekwesili, “…failing standard of and decaying facilities in schools, old students provide hope and support for present crops of students in such schools.” These old students basically “hope that we have achieved a good legacy from the schools. Hence, the present crop of students will also benefit from the benevolence of a public school system.” (This Day 24th April, 2007).
The above views seem to suggest that Old Boys and Girls are concerned, vibrate and progressive group of men and women who are delighted and excited to return to their Alma Mater to show appreciation. They keep their schools’ best interests seal to their heart, through generous donation of time, talents, funds, etc. Old Students Associations are formed to aid schools ensure conducive teaching and learning and living in the boarding schools.
These old boys and girls assist the former schools execute various projects: construction of classroom blocks, hostels, gates, walls, libraries, renovation of dilapidated buildings, award of scholarships etc. They equally contribute to their Alma Mater by being “Worthy Ambassadors” the school could be proud of.
Virgin forest of great friendship and funds
It is unarguably true that government alone cannot fund education due to limited funds chasing unlimited needs. It is equally truism that education is a citizen’s right considering the enormous benefits of this enabler.
There is therefore, a clarion call to everyone to participate in funding this vital sector. Old Boys’ and Girls’ associations should champion this cause. To facilitate this task, government should partner with these groups through their presidents.
The surest way to do this is by instituting “Association of Presidents of Old Boys’ and Girls’ Secondary Schools in Anambra State (APOBG).” Granted that these associations have individually and collectively contributed immensely to educational development in the state, there is still great potential unexploited, hence virgin forest of great friendship and funds wailing to be tapped.
They have done so much without seeking for rewards or recognition. Perhaps, formation of this umbrella body and a “Day with His Excellency” will strengthen these passionate old boys and girls. Some old students may not be enthusiastic because they do not see any personal gains derived from such unions.
Lethargic members may also demoralise active and vibrate members but government’s recognition of Old Boys and Girls through their respective Presidents will act as a catalyst for total involvement for greater heights.
Benefits of Association of Presidents of Old Boys’ and Girls’ Secondary Schools in Anambra State (APOBG)
In addition to the current roles Old Boy’s and Girl’s have performed in the education sector, APOBG if formed will:
Acts as an umbrella body of all the Old Boy’s and Girls’ Associations in the State
Provide easy channel of communication
Consolidate the association by uniting all Presidents and will facilitate the election of President of all Presidents
They will speak with one voice in matters concerning education in the state
Act as advocate in educational matters
Vital resource material for both academic and career guidance to current students, etc
In conclusion, the importance of Old Boy’s and Girl’s Associations can never be undermined. Old boys and girls are great stakeholders in education. Thus every institution should endeavour to involve this group in the institution’s affairs. For some inexplicable reasons, people tend to ignore the affairs of the university they attended but not their secondary schools.
Little wonder old boys and girls are greatly involved in improving on the existing infrastructure, bailing out needy students, reviving the lost glory of their Alma Mater. Contemporary students desire visible examples, thus old students could serve as encouragement and models to current students.
Ifeanyi, is the Senior Special Assistant to Anambra State Governor on Secondary Education