A retired lecturer identified as Pa Onamade who taught in two prestigious Nigerian universities and was the head of a department in the University of Lagos has shared the story of how he became a teacher.
The lecturer revealed that he achieved all he did without a secondary school certificate. He further added that he regrets his decision not to go to secondary school.
Pa Onamade was born on June 21, 1938, to Alfred and Esther Onamade in Ipara Remo area of Ogun state. His father was a palm-wine tapper and his mother sold pap.
According to the lecturer, he had gone to Wesley School, Ipara Remo, for his primary education in 1944. He revealed that he decided to teach after primary school and he joined the Methodist Young Teachers' Course in Sagamu.
"I didn’t attend secondary school. After finishing primary education in December 1952 at United School, I spent a week at the Methodist Young Teachers’ Course in Sagamu. We were supposed to be employed as teachers after passing the course. They taught us how to mark scripts and prepare lesson and teaching notes. But due to my little stature, I wasn’t offered a job. In January 1953, my father asked me to go with a teacher friend, Mr. Ige, who was transferred to Salvation Army School in Ibadan, Oyo State, from Ipara United School.
Again, my small stature worked against me in Ibadan as I could not get a sales representative job, which was very common then. I had to start selling newspapers, though I was still living with Mr. Ige. I would wake up as early as 5am to trek a long distance to the railway station where we collected papers."
The retired lecturer revealed that he became a teacher in 1955, at Methodist School, Ileogbo. He said: "At the end of 1953, I became tired of newspaper business. When I went home for Christmas, I complained bitterly to my father. He then told another friend, Mr. Ojudun, who was the headmaster of Methodist School, Ileogbo town, Osun State. It was then under Ibadan. I followed him to Ileogbo in 1954. But the man had a policy that before he could get one a teaching job, one must serve him for a year. I became a teacher on January 1, 1955, at Methodist School, Ileogbo. I started teaching the year Obafemi Awolowo introduced free education in the western region.
I wanted to acquire more knowledge, but it was mandatory to teach for three years before going for the Grade 3 Teachers’ Training College. In 1959, I completed my studies at the Local Authority Teacher’s Grade 3 Training College in Iwo.
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Training at LATCO was as if we were in the military. Both the seniors and college authorities made us go through a lot of hardship. After the training, I was posted to the Local Authority Primary School, Ogun–Ajo Iwo, as the headmaster and was later transferred to L. A. School, Idiroko, Iwo, in 1961.
When I decided to move closer to my hometown, I was admitted to the Joint Provincial Teachers’ Grade 11 College (IJABCOL) in Sagamu for a two-year course, which I completed in 1963. I then worked at different schools including the Local Authority Modern School, Ogere Remo, and L. A. Modern School, Ode Remo."
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Despite not going to secondary school, Pa Onamade worked hard to get a university degree when many of his colleagues thought it was unneccessary.
"At Methodist School in Yaba, the Lagos State Government introduced evening classes. People were being tutored for GCE Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations. By then too, I had moved from Somolu to Alagomeji in Yaba, which was about a 10-minute walk to my workplace.
At the evening classes, I started with Ordinary Level and I did the examinations. But since I wanted to go to the university, I still needed to take the GCE Advanced Level examinations. I passed two papers – Yoruba and Economics.
But before taking the GCE exams in 1974, I attempted changing profession to work in the then Standard Bank of Nigeria. Some of the staff connived with an outsider to defraud the bank and implicated me. We were taken to the Igbosere Magistrates’ Court, which was the first time I entered a court. After a thorough investigation and several adjournments, I was discharged and acquitted while the culprits were convicted. This largely made me quit the bank job in 1975 and I went back to teach at Saint Patrick’s Catholic School, Yaba."
Pa Onamade told The Punch that he gained admission in the University of Lagos in 1976 and completed his education in 1979.
"I was already an old man when I gained admission to study Yoruba/Pre-Primary and Primary Education at the University of Ibadan. I gained admission in 1976 and I completed the programme in 1979. God has destined that I would go to the university. It was a surprise to many people as they didn’t know I could go far. God rewarded my efforts with the admission.
Immediately after the National Youth Service Corps, I was posted to the Advanced Teachers’ College in Surulere, now Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, for my primary assignment. But after NYSC, the Lagos State Government posted me to Methodist Girls High School in Yaba. After spending about two months there, a letter came from Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education that they wanted me back. From Advanced Teachers’ College of Education, it became the Lagos State College of Education and later Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education. The school was formerly situated in Surulere before it was moved to Oto Ijanikin, Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
In the past, promotions were rare. You could work for six years without promotion. You could imagine that after spending the whole of my life in the classroom, I retired at Level 12, Lecturer 2. Things have improved now and teachers get better pay too."
He, however, expressed that he feels pained to not have gone to secondary school because there are some things secondary school students can do that he cannot.
"I feel pained that I didn’t go to a secondary school. The mathematics that a Form 1 student could solve, I cannot solve it till date. In teacher’s colleges, we were not taught mathematics. They taught us arithmetic, fraction, simple interest and other related topics.
The children who went to a secondary school were from affluent homes, as secondary schools were not much then. In the entire Remo division, where we had about 33 towns, we had just one secondary school, Remo Secondary School, in Sagamu. That was why many of us didn’t have the opportunity of attending a secondary school."
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