The late former Minister of Education, Prof. Babatunde Fafunwa, once said: “We must educate our people or perish.” This underscores the importance of education to national development.
In an effort to increase access to tertiary education, the Federal Government, some years ago, approved the establishment of private universities as public universities proved inadequate to admit thousands of qualified admission seekers.
At the moment, Nigeria has about 75 private universities in addition to 40 Federal universities and 46 state universities. Caleb University, Imota, Lagos, owned by an educationist and preacher, Dr Oladega Adebogun, is one of the private efforts to encourage Nigerians to acquire tertiary education.
Caleb University was established in January 2008 but its history dates back to 1986 when Adebogun, a Prince of Imota Community in Ikorodu Area of Lagos State, planted the initial seed for a nursery and primary school in the heart of Lagos Mainland.
The seed eventually resulted in Caleb International Schools (Nursery/Primary), Magodo; Caleb International School, Lekki; Caleb British International School, Abijo GRA, and Caleb Business School, Magodo and then Caleb University.
To encourage financially indigent but brilliant students to have access to private tertiary education, Adebogun, a graduate of education Management, has granted scholarships to hundreds of students through an annual scholarship programme he instituted in Caleb University.
The school proprietor has brought his wealth of experience and resources to bear on the educational development of many young Nigerians through the scholarship.
This is in the realisation that many brilliants but financially indigent youths may not get an education even with the increasing number of private universities because of the high cost.
Mr Emmanuel Joseph, a graduate of Economics, is one of the numerous Nigerians that have benefitted from the scholarship programme. He says he may not have become a graduate but for the scholarship.
Joseph calls on more well-to-do Nigerians to come to the aid of indigent students to empower them to develop their potential and contribute meaningfully to national development.
“Baba’s (Adebogun’s) life has taught me to make a positive impact on others wherever I find myself. The institution has groomed me to become a better person socially, spiritually and career-wise. I can proudly compete with other graduates from other universities in the world,’’ he says.
Miss Rejoice Zipya, a third-year accounting student of the institution, also hailed the proprietor for commitment to education development.
Zipya is convinced that the scholarship helped to bring out the best in her. She also desires that there will be more scholarships for students of tertiary institutions.
For Caleb University’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ayandiji Aina, such a scholarship has contributed much to Nigeria’s education development and pulled out many families from poverty.
“Dr Adebogun spends huge sums of money on scholarships every year for indigenes of Imota and environs in order to pull them out of ignorance and poverty. He spent close to N19 million on scholarship for 75 students in the 2016/2017 academic session,’’ he notes.
According to him, Adebogun’s scholarship programme, which has been a tradition over the years, is a way he gives back to the society.
“Many of the beneficiaries of the scholarship are the less privileged members of the host community and children of clerics. There are criteria for the selection of the beneficiaries to ensure that it is those who deserve it that get it,’’ Aina says.
He believes that Adebogun, who holds PhD in Educational Administration and Planning, had a passion for education even before he became a classroom teacher years ago.
Adebogun, also the President of the Faith Bible Training Centre (FBTC), Lagos – an interdenominational evangelical training centre, attributes his philanthropy in education to his experience as a child, when his poor family could not afford to send him to secondary school.
“My father said he would not be able to send only me, out of four children, to secondary school; so, he stopped me. My mother decided l should go and learn tailoring. It was after many years that they said I should start secondary school.’’
The Caleb University visitor also says he also drew inspiration from a British Christian Evangelist, George Muller (Sept. 27, 1805 – March 10, 1898), who ran an Ashley Down Orphanage in Bristol, England.
“This evangelist cared for 10,024 orphans during his lifetime and provided educational opportunities for the orphans to the point that he was accused by some of raising the poor above their status in British life. He established 117 schools which offered Christian education to more than 120,000 children.
“So, I said to myself that if God can use this man, He can also use me for my own generation. God has been so good to me and I should give back to the society by investing in education to support the less privileged.’’
By Oluwashina Iyanda