WHY ARE THERE NO FORMER PUPILS’ ASSOCIATIONS?
By: Augustine Omilo
Given the prominence accorded educational developments around the world through the activities of old students of secondary and tertiary institutes, it is not out of place for similar gestures to be extended to primary schools where foundations are laid for academic scholarship. The former students are normally organized into groups known as Old Students Associations, Old boys’ Associations or Old Girls’ Associations at post primary school levels. At tertiary school levels, they are referred to as Alumni Associations of their institutes.
Beyond the general bodies of these associations, there are equally sub-groups recognized as class sets. Many of them visit their Alma Mata at regular intervals with a view to finding out the areas of needs of the schools. Those within their capacity to meet are met without bothering the government or other owners of such academic environments.
Examples abound of great schools that have immensely benefited from the contributions of their former students. One of such is the famous Ika Grammar school, Owa where the old students recently provided new class room blocks, water borehole, built and furnished students’ hostels in addition to massively renovating the old administrative block that equally accommodates many classrooms. These were done despite the fact that the school have been handed over by government to its former owners – the Anglican Church. The whole of Agbor and environs went agog during the last annual general meeting of the old boys held in the school premises recently.
As part of their social functions, schools’ old students meet at regular intervals and discuss issues relating to the welfare of members, including assisting sick ones, helping to revive businesses of some of them and associating with each other in times of pains and rejoicing. During these activities people are inspired to do more to not only improve on themselves but also to lend helping hands to their communities.
If “catching them young” is a phrase to be embraced as a way of ensuring that the young ones are made to begin to reason in a particular direction that make the future bright, then exposing pupils to knowledge of men and women that were once like them will go a long to inspiring them to make the right choices early in life. In this case, old pupils will not only be building new physical structures for their former schools but can also be visiting the schools to offer motivational talks based on their success stories.
Associating with old class mates or school mates offer members a sense belonging, seeing that everybody in the society is important even though many may end up as “road-side mechanics”. The fact that one did not study beyond the primary school certificate should not automatically confer inferiority complex on him while meeting graduates of universities. The only people that can remove this toga of inferiority complex are schoolmates who know the strength of colleagues as they grew up.
There are children who probably do not understand that “papa was once a small boy”. Therefore, seeing them (the old people) coming together to act like kids will help in no small measure to shaping their future.
There are many old pupils who would have loved to contribute to the rebuilding of their former schools but lack the platform to do so. One of the greatest philanthropists from the old Bendel state of Nigeria (now Edo and Delta), Chief Ignatius Igabor Erigbuem was committed to mother earth recently. He was a very successful businessman whose formal education ended with Primary school certificate in the early 50s. In his life time, he single-handedly awarded scholarships to many people that were not his biological children. In his tribute, one of the surrogate sons of the man and a beneficiary of the late chief’s scholarship, Ogbe Augustine described him as; “the professor of the economic emancipation of the poor”. Imagine if Erigbuem had an opportunity to collaborate with his old school mates at CMS primary school where he started and ended his formal education career! It would have led to the upliftment of the standard of the school located in his native town – Owa-Alero.
The world is evolving. All human beings deserve the right of association with each other, irrespective of academic backgrounds. This can be easily facilitated by the coming together of old primary school pupils comprising of those with secondary and tertiary school backgrounds as well.