Ajibola Oluwakemi Bolanle is a graduate of Maths and Economics. She teaches maths at the United High School, Ilawe-Ekiti, Ekiti State. To spur her students’ interest in the ‘dreaded’ subject, she comes to their level. In this interview, she reveals other things she does that make her students perform well in both internal and external examinations.
What motivated you into wearing school uniform to class?
My parents motivated me. They were teachers; I so much loved the relationship between my mum and her students that I dreamt of becoming like her one day.
Was your mother wearing school uniform to class?
No. But my mother was a fashionable woman and also a politician. She interacted well with her students as if they were peers. I liked the way she was close to her students. They were like peers. She made me develop interest in teaching. Growing up, teaching was all I ever wanted to do. I didn’t have any other ambition than to be a teacher. So when I became a teacher, I asked myself what I could do to draw my students to myself just like my mother. I teach mathematics and I observed that students were afraid of the subject so I decided to dress like them to make them to be free with me and it worked. My major reason for doing it is to be able to impart knowledge.
So what has been the response of your students?
It has been wonderful. In this school, mathematics is the best subject. The school has a good record of students doing well in mathematics. The students are always eager to see me; they also open up to me when they have challenges. Our students’ performance in maths is excellent in both internal and external exams and the records are there for anyone to see.
When did you start wearing uniform to class?
Seven years ago. I don’t wear it every day. I wear it on Mondays. I also use the opportunity to teach the students how to sew their uniforms. I conduct assembly every day so the students see me in uniform from time to time.
Is this the first school you would be teaching, if not have you always worn school uniforms in all the schools you have been posted to?
No. This is not the first school I would be teaching. , I was at AUD Secondary School, Christ Girls School and Christ School, Ado-Ekiti before I was posted here. But I wasn’t wearing school uniform there but I was quite familiar with my students; I love to see them around me. This is the first school where I am wearing school uniform and I have been doing that for many years now.
Have you got any recognition from anyone including people in government?
No. There was a time a commissioner in the state visited our school many years ago, he saw the way I was interacting with the students, I was the one that recorded the minute of the meeting that day. He saw me, he was surprised, I was effective and close to the students, he took notice of me and there were plans to give me some recognition, but somehow, nothing was done. But I didn’t relent.
How do you feel now that your picture is everywhere on the social media?
I feel very happy and excited. My phone has been ringing nonstop . People have been calling me. I don’t even know what to say. Many of my old students have been calling me. A lot of them are in higher institutions now-I feel overwhelmed.
Aside wearing school uniform, what else do you do differently?
I love to keep my lesson notes clean and up to date. I pay attention to details when preparing my lesson notes. I have all my lesson notes in the last eight years. All my old records are intact. I put a lot of efforts into preparing my notes. One of my former students once called to tell me that she missed my handwriting. I have very good handwriting. Any novice could use my lesson notes.
I also teach my students in our local dialect. When we were young, the way we saw maths was like maths was a subject from helI. I am from Ekiti and my students are from here. So, I teach them in my dialect. I use Ekiti dialect and the students understand perfectly and they respond positively. In fact, my students enjoy my teachings. There was a time some of them were lobbying me to take them in other subjects.
What do you think teachers should be doing to get better attention of students?
Whatever a man sows, he shall reap. Teachers should be closer to their students. They should correct their students in love.
Do you experience situations where some of your students are rude to you since too much familiarity could breed contempt?
Some of them misbehave. Sometimes, they play pranks, some just call me by my name. Some call me ‘The girl.’ That’s my nickname. I am the only female child among my siblings. When that happens, I talk to them reminding them that I’m old enough to be their mother. There is tendency for some of them to be rude. I come to their level and if they deserve to be punished, I punish them. But that doesn’t stop me from playing with them in class or during short breaks.
How does your husband view your action and do your children take it?
My husband is happy with it. He knows that my parents were like that. He also supports my ambition and my children are happy and proud of me. They also call me ‘the girl’ when they want to hail me and make me feel happy.
What do you think government should be doing for teachers?
Government should endeavour to accord to teachers their rights. Government should pay them what is due to them. Teachers are owed months of salaries. This is discouraging. The best government can do is to give teachers what is theirs by right. For example, there is no medical care for them. Many of us are working but there is no money. This is discouraging. Many look for money to take care of their health. The least the government can do is to give teachers their entitlements.
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