Amid CMS Grammar School Bariga 163rd founder’s Day celebration featuring the inauguration of various projects by the Old Grammarians’ Society, executive members, who spoke to Funmi Ogundare, explained that the initiative was aimed at impacting the students so that they can do the same for others who would be admitted in future
CMS Grammar School, Bariga Lagos, no doubt, is Nigeria’s oldest mission secondary school, founded in 1859. At some point, it was taken over by the government, but since its return, the Old Grammarians’ Society (OGS) has made it a duty to uphold its sound tradition and values; and restore the school to its old glory. Through different class sets projects over the years, the old boys have impacted the teaming population of students. This year, the school is celebrating its 163rd founder’s anniversary themed, ‘ Burning Brightly Ever’. To commemorate the celebration, the old boys set aside $2 million on various projects such as computerisation, solarization of its perimeter fence, kitchen, ICT and training centre, among others.
The President of OGS, Mr. Olu Vincent, who expressed excitement about the Founder’s Day, told THISDAY that since the return of the school to the mission by the state government, the old boys have developed a special passion for seeing its restoration to its former glory.
“Whether it is the private sector or old boys, we must work together with the government. Education is very expensive. You can see the various projects within the school,” said Vincent.
He noted that education could change any nation’s GDP and that it was why all old boys are being encouraged to do something about it, as government alone cannot bear all the burden.
He thanked the old boys for their contributions, adding that plans are underway to institute a proper endorsement fund to ensure the sustainability of the projects.
The President of OGS America, Chief Akin Popoola, who explained some of the projects, said the old boys realised that computerisation means a lot, and if there is no power, the students may not be able to go far or achieve much.
“We have four pillars for the project. The first is to have a computerised system and have an internet connection within the school so that the students can log on. The second one is to ensure an effective electronic learning system, as well as an intercom for easy communication,” said Popoola. “The third pillar is the ICT so that 100 per cent of our students who are not college-bound can be technologically prepared to learn soft skills, as well as an uninterrupted power supply.”
He disclosed that the OGS would be working with university lecturers to ensure that the students are ready for higher institutions.
Popoola noted that a portion of the money would be saved for the replacement and maintenance of the projects while expressing hope that the school would also contribute toward it.
He described the solarisation and computerisation project as the best in Nigeria and Africa, saying that even children of the poor could attend the school to have access to it.
“Our students can always have access to their teachers online, in real-time and study; and even go back to recorded messages to enable them to pass their exams. It will make our students better,” Popoola added.
He said the OGS would buy the equipment to achieve the project sustainability, adding that the school must also be committed to the project.
The Chairman of OGS UK and Europe, Mr. John Emore, added that the solarization project is for the students to be able to study at any time rather than having to depend on power from electricity distributing companies (DISCOS).
He added that it would also save the school from buying diesel to power their generator or spending money on the electric power supply.
The President of 1982 set, Mr. Barnaby Ephraim, emphasised his set projects, including introducing the game of cricket to the students in November 2021, when over 200 students signed up to be part of the program.
“The coach in charge is Mr. Ingram Jose. The school team had its first competitive game against Kings College, Lagos in February 2022. Equipment worth over N3 million was donated by an old boy, Mr. Femi George, explained Emore. “The school ground was also used by the club cricket committee for its division two league matches to give more exposure to the students.”
The Principal, Reverend Jacob Ogunyinka, described the OGS and the school as one, saying that it has had a great impact on the members , which is the reason why they are giving back to make lives better for the current students so that they can, in turn, do the same in the future for the school.
Asked how the school intends to sustain projects commissioned, he said, “We already have a solid maintenance unit in the school saddled with the responsibility of taking good care of such projects. I believe having that will enable us to take good care of the projects so that they can serve for a very long time.”
On how the school has ensured that the students imbibe its legacy, Ogunyinka said, “Every student of the school is deeply rooted in the tradition and values of the school. Once they are admitted into the school, they learn the school song, and thereafter, we organise orientation programmes for them to familiarise themselves with various rules and regulations, as well as special programmes. As they do all these, the tradition is passed onto them, and more important, the celebration of the school’s founder’s day is such that the students are seriously wishing to be part of.”