In this world, there are certain brands which have become synonymous with quality. Whether that be the prized Mercedes Benz (since 1926) in the area of motor vehicles or the highly esteemed Oxford University (since 1096) in the area of tertiary education. No matter where you find yourself in the world, the people’s verdict regarding these brands will always be the same. Quality. The Corona educational group which spans the whole gamut of education, namely nursery, primary, secondary and the Teacher Training tertiary institution – and all run by the Corona Schools Trust Council, boasts of this same reputation, quality. Founded in 1955, five years before Nigeria’s independence, it has not only stood the test of time but remains amongst the very best till this day. It was therefore with much joy and gratitude that we at EduTimes Africa received the news that Mrs Adeyoyin Adesina, the amiable but expectedly busy Chief Executive Officer of Corona Schools Trust Council, had accepted our invitation for an interview. Kindly read on.
Thank you so much for carving out time for this interview ma.
Please tell us a little about yourself. How were your growing up years? Where did you go to school?
I was born in Ibadan about 59 years ago to an Egba father and an Efik mother. After a few years, my family moved down to Lagos, and I recall my growing up years living in Surulere on a close of about nine houses. All the children knew one another and played freely in the neighbourhood. I remember with nostalgia, our walks to supermarkets and stores around us; Leventis Stores, UTC, nearby supermarkets, the local market…. life really was not so complicated then. My mother was working in Kingsway Stores then and it was a second home to me. First the Store on Marina, then subsequently when she was transferred to manage the Store in GRA, Ikeja. Those were the days!
I started my primary education in Ibadan before moving to continue in Lagos. My first degree was obtained from the University of Ife, and post-graduate diplomas from the University of Lagos and the University of Nottingham. Interestingly, I started my career as a banker but veered off into the education sector, following what I believe is my calling and purpose.
You have a background in banking. Which bank did you work for and what made you switch to the educational sector?
I started my banking career in 1988 in the now defunct, North South Bank. Afterwards, I worked in several Microfinance Banks before things went awry in the banking sector. At this time, I had a young family and decided to take some time off work to take care of my children. My interest in the education sector was spiked by my counseling role in the church. It came naturally to me. I remember the late Selwyn Hughes, writer of the devotional Every Day with Jesus, was in Lagos at a time and had a workshop for church workers in the counseling and teaching ministries. I attended this programme, which I think spanned a period of a few days, and afterwards, I was convinced this was my calling. I continued to serve in church and when I was ready to go back into paid employment, I went into education.
I learned that you also spent some time working in the print media. Of all the sectors that you have worked in, which has given you the most fulfillment and why?
My stint in the print media was a short one. I served in the Plateau Publishing Company, Jos as a features writer for the Standard Newspaper, and after my service year, I stayed on briefly with them before I returned to Lagos.
Without batting an eyelid, I will tell you that I have found the greatest fulfilment in my role as educator. As an educator, I had immense pleasure in seeing the children evolve before my very eyes. The impact of a teacher in the life of a young child is one that lasts a lifetime and should not be taken lightly or mishandled. The reality of this, to me, shows the awesome responsibility that God has placed on the shoulders of teachers, akin to that of a parent, if not even greater. It is something I consider a great privilege. As I always say, Jesus Himself, was a teacher and this shows how important that role is at whatever level we are called to serve. I had the opportunity to go back to the bank when I started out in the education sector, but I was not swayed in my resolve to go into education. I have never regretted that decision.
Ma, when you joined Corona School, what was your ambition? Did it ever cross your mind during those early days that you would one day become the overall head?
Honestly, I just wanted to be the best at whatever I was appointed to do. I knew that if I did that well, any other thing could follow. I recall at the interview I was asked a similar question and my response was that I would rather be a small fish in a big pool of water than a gigantic fish in a small pool of water. Playing in a bigger space will give me more room to grow and prove myself. I thank God for how far He has brought me.
Do any vivid high and low points come to mind when you remember your school days?
Life itself is a mix of high and low points. But, when I remember my school days, I just think of how far Nigeria has strayed from the country many of us grew up in. As I said earlier, life was not so complicated then. School was quite interesting, even though there were moments when you could hardly say that. The one incident I cannot forget easily was the great ASUU strike of 1986 that delayed my graduation by a few months. It was a horrendous experience. This is something our youths should not be put through.
Do you remember any funny incident while you were still in school that evokes involuntary laughter in you anytime it comes to your mind?
Oh my! Quite a few, with the benefit of hindsight. I also got my fair share of getting into scrapes and escaping some by a hair’s breadth.
Some have said that too many Nigerians see the acquisition of academic credentials for the sole purpose of securing a good occupation as the objective of education? Do you agree with them? If not, how would you define the purpose and benefits of a good education?
It all depends on one’s definition of ‘Education.’ Aristotle defined education as ‘ the creation of a sound mind in a sound body ‘. Thus, to him the aim of education was the welfare of individuals so as to bring happiness in their lives.
The dictionary also defines education as ‘the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.’ This results in the award of a certificate, which, in itself, is not bad, but that is not all education is about nor should it be the main objective.
Before now, there had been an over-dependence on certification for jobs in Nigeria. There is a slow and gradual shift from that perspective now. The objective of education now is not just to secure a good job but to achieve well-rounded wellness, global mindedness, critical thinking and relevant skill sets. In addition, many of our youths, these days, are not too inclined towards picking up paid employment but rather starting up their own businesses. This requires a plethora of skill sets, diversity, adaptability, risk taking, critical thinking, and sheer grit. A good educational background lays the foundation for this.
Is there any particular policy that you would love to see change in the educational sector? Either in Lagos state or in Nigeria as a whole.
A change I would love to see is the prioritization of the provision and quality of education by government and all stakeholders to EVERY child in Nigeria. This is the only way we can achieve sustainable development for the country. Equal priority should also be given to teacher training, development, and remuneration. All the indices that impact the provision of quality education nationwide must be carefully addressed and matched with global best practices.
Speaking to what has become a common mantra amongst some youth that “education is a scam”. What has been your experience regarding those who Corona Schools have produced? In terms of attainment in life, whether that be here in Nigeria or even abroad?
I must say that I have not heard that mantra before. I would not know in what ways or context education has been termed a ‘scam’.
However, working in a school setting that prides itself on constantly reassessing relevance and impact and has a wide array of creditable and noteworthy alumni, I can assure you education is not a scam.
Of all your achievements as Head of School, Principal and the overall head of Corona Schools being the Chief Executive Officer of Corona Schools Trust Council, which has been the most gratifying?
They all have been gratifying in unique ways. All roles were focused on working with and developing people and children, which I thoroughly enjoy. I must, however, single out the role of Head of School, Corona School, Lekki. As the pioneer Head of School, it was a novel experience and one that demanded everything I had to give and more. I am grateful to God for that experience.
What would be your advice to our young ones who also desire to reach the zenith of their chosen career one day?
Be true to yourself! Embody discipline, dedication, and determination. Develop and hold yourself accountable to sound moral and ethical values. Above all, never forget that it is not by your power or might but by the grace of God. When you walk in the fear of God, even when you fall, you will not fall too far off the ground. Be prepared to make mistakes but above that, learn from those mistakes. Finally, do not be afraid to dream big and work towards realising your dreams. Success is based on charting the right course in life and maintaining focus.
Would you say your education made you? If yes, how?
Education is learning. It is by actively and continually learning from situations, circumstances, and people around me that I have the wealth and breadth of knowledge I have today. However, my faith in God will not allow me to say conclusively that education made me. I consider it a privilege, by the grace of God, that I am where I am today and still aspiring.
Ma, as we have come to the end of our interview, there’s a little secret that I want to share with you.
Okay. What is it?
I’m a proud product of Corona School myself
SIMILAR ARTICLE: How Education Made Me, Interview of Prof Segun Ajibola, FCIB.
Mrs. Adeyoyin Adesina is a veteran educator, who in over two decades has built an enviable career in Nigeria’s educational sector. She has risen to become a seasoned stakeholder, impacting the lives of students and educators alike with her sound acumen. Her work experience and career spanned the print media and the banking sector before her entry into education.
She has an avid interest in the growth and development of children and is seasoned in running and organizing an enviable learning environment. Attesting to this are the various roles and responsibilities she has held in her years in the education space to date:
• Academic Superintendent (Primary), Avi Cenna School, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos
• Head of School, Corona School Victoria Island
• Pioneer Head of School, Corona School, Lekki
• Principal, Corona Secondary School, Agbara
• Chief Executive Officer, Corona Schools’ Trust Council
She holds a degree in English Studies from the University of Ife, a Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Lagos, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (International) from the University of Nottingham. She is also a Microsoft certified educator (Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert – MIEE).
Adeyoyin has been serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Corona Schools’ Trust Council for over six (6) years, overseeing all the schools within the brand’s academic spectrum (Nursery, Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary). She is also a member of the Corona Schools’ Trust Council Governing Board. She further promotes her personal voluntary work through varied fields of interest.
With excellent organisational, communicative, and culinary skills, Adeyoyin is a mentor, a coach, an astute leader, a public speaker and is happily married with three grown children.