ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AS A KEY FACTOR IN SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Being a paper presented by Prof. Wole Morenikeji on the occasion of the 61st Founder’s Day Celebration of the Ibadan Christ Apostolic Grammar School, Aperin-Oniyere, Ibadan on 30th January, 2021 at the School Premises.
Prof . Oluwole Olakanmi Morenikeji.
The National President
The National Executive Members
The Governors of all Sets
Distinguished Alumni members
The School Principals (former and the Incumbent)
Hardworking ICAGS Teachers
ICAGS Student Leaders
Ladies and Gentlemen
When I received the invitation to present the first ever Founder’s Day lecture of our great Alma Mater from our National President about two months ago, I felt humbled and honored at the same time.
It will be an understatement to say that I am pleasantly excited to be here today. It is great to be in the midst of great grandfathers, grandfathers, colleagues and juniors, some of who served as our college sons. The nostalgic feeling is overwhelming. It is amazing to belong to ICAGS. I was having spontaneous flashbacks as I was writing –
The white and brown uniform with brown sandals
The school badge
The mid-day meal even for day students
The morning assembly
Hymns – first from sheet of papers and later from booklets
- Oh my comrades
- Count your blessings
- Yield not to temptation
- My Jesus I love thee
The hostel life
Teachers with various characters
The Apian Way
The “sacred” Flowers and the School Garden
Oniyere House and Boys
Some stubborn boys
Some overly tough seniors
The foreign teachers – Indians, Pakistanis and Togolese
Above all the discipline – when the fear of the Senior Boy was at par with that of the Principal
“When I call you, you say sir. I am here to represent your parents” – Head boy.
The topic today is not about life as students in the School per se but about:
i. Washing each other’s hands
ii. Giving back to the School
For the mutual benefits of both us and the School, but this introduction is necessary to set the tone.
2. What is Alumni Association?
An organisation’s alumni are the reflection of its past, representation of its present and a link to the future. – blog.suryadatta.org
Alumni are often referred to as the brand-ambassadors and the future of an alma mater (Beare, 2005). Alumni association, therefore is made up of a group of graduates of an institution who have now become the ambassadors of the institution in the larger society. When such association becomes well established and members become highly successful in all traffic lanes of life, they become highly influential, influencing themselves and the institutions they represent as brand ambassadors to the extent that they turn into a form of “fraternity”, “cult” or “cabal”.
We often hear of the “Kaduna Mafia”. Most members of this mafia group were former students of the famous Barewa College. They have dominated the military, politics, industries and civil service, among others. In short, they call the shots in the country. Attending Barewa College is now like getting passport to secured life with the following notable people as former students:
Ahmadu Bello – Premier of Northern Nigeria
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa – Prime Minister of Nigeria
Yakubu Gowon – Military Head of State of Nigeria
Murtala Mohammed – Military Head of State of Nigeria
Shehu Shagari – Civilian President of Nigeria
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua – Civilian President of Nigeria
Ibrahim Dasuki – Sultan of Sokoto
Muhammed Bello – Chief Justice of Nigeria
Adamu Ciroma – Governor of Central Bank
Jubril Aminu – former Vice-Chancellor, former Ambassador to USA
Examples of other schools that have similar notable alumni are Kings College and Queens College, Lagos, Federal Government College, Warri, Abeokuta Baptist Boys high school, Lagelu Grammar School, Ibadan, Molusi College, Ijebu-Igbo, Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro, Wesley College Ibadan, Keffi College, Keffi, St. Murumba College Jos, Queen Elizabeth College Ilorin, St. Paul’s College, Gindiri, Ibadan Grammar School, Ibadan and Offa Grammar School, Offa to mention just but a few. These schools have become famous because they produced famous people who in turn make their schools famous. Criminals are profiled by their ethnicity and religion while blaze trailers are profiled by the schools they attended. Has anybody asked which school Evans the notorious kidnapper attended? But without asking, we can guess with high level of certainty that he is Igbo and a Christian.
3. Role of Alumni Association in Students and College Developments
According to Adebowale (2015), Alumni’s passionate interests in their respective associations are consequential to the survival and development of alma maters. Even in rich and highly developed countries, governments are not able to adequately provide for the needs of the educational institutions. For example, as observed by Lambert and Muller (2014), alumni associations are considered essential to public schools' funding in the United States consequent upon the decreasing government funding. Perhaps, nowhere is this problem more glaring than Nigeria. Allocation to education has not only been fluctuating but abysmally low.
Table 1: Budgetary Allocations to Education in Nigeria (2011– 2021)
Year % of Budget allocated to Education
Sources: Budgit 2018
*Punch Newspaper (Jan. 4, 2019)
*** Premium Times online
While Nigeria has always been struggling to meet the UNESCO’s recommended benchmark of 26% budget allocation for education, some African countries like Ghana (31%), Cote d’Iviore (30%) and Uganda (27%) have indeed surpassed that minimum recommendation as at 2012 as shown in Table 2.
Table 2: Budgetary Allocation to Education in Selected African Countries
% Budget allocated to education in 2012
Cote d’Iviore 30.0
South Africa 25.8
Source: World Bank (2012)
Unlike the tertiary institutions that receive statutory allocations and grants form bodies like tetfund apart from their internally generated revenues, secondary schools at best only receive imprest to buy padlocks, chalk and dusters.
Alumni associations fill the gaps by embarking on various developmental projects. Case studies include the Alumni of King's College Lagos through her "Give back" initiative programme. The Alumni association, contributed immensely to the development of their institution through job fairs, project development and clever club (King's College Old Boys Association, 2017). In the same vein, the Alumni body of the St. Murumba's Old Boys association Jos concluded an arrangement in 2019 to build a hostel worth 200 million Naira to academic activities in their alma mater (Busari, 2019).
4. Mobilising the Alumni for impact
Networking among the alumni is highly essential in this regard. Information and Telecommunication Technology (ICT) has revolutionarised the manner and speed of information dissemination and thus far easier to reach alumni both on-shore and off-shore and mobilise them. Profiling of alumni is now possible through application software like Telegram, Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and the likes.
An earlier attempt (in which I participated) to form an Old Boys Association for ICAGS was between 1986 and 1990. One Professor of Yoruba at the University of Ibadan was the Interim President and one journalist was the Secretary. At any meeting convened during the period, attendance was abysmally poor – (6 – 8 in attendance) and there was no mass media that time. The efforts failed woefully. I left Ibadan to join the services of the Federal University of Technology in 1990 and I think that Secretary moved to Jos and nothing was heard again.
Later in 2020, I was added to the 1979 WhatsApp Group and later same year I joined the Telegram Group of the National Association and the Alumni Association became not only active but very virile. Thus, we were fully mobilized and networking among members improved tremendously. The successful organization of the 60th Founders’ Day Anniversary bears eloquent testimony. Kudos to those great and purpose-driven individuals. ICAGSOBA has come to stay.
5. Role of Alumni Association in Student's development
Mentoring the prospective alumni members is of paramount importance and this can be achieved through:
i. Scholarship offers to brilliant and indigent students
ii. Offering opportunities for holiday jobs for students in industry and enterprises
iii. Career guidance and counselling sessions from time to time, especially during Students’ Week
iv. Sourcing for and paying teachers in critical subjects that the School may be lacking e.g. Physics and French.
6. The role of Alumni Association in development of Staff of Alma mater
Teachers of the School can be encouraged through
i. Sponsorship to attend capacity building workshops
ii. Sponsorship for those on part-time training for their degree programme
iii. Annual award for the most outstanding teacher(s)
iv. Giving palliatives during trying times (including end-of-year packages)
7. The role of the Alumni Association in College development
The alumni association can make its impact felt more through:
i. Renovation of dilapidated/dilapidating physical structures
ii. Provision of essential services – water, electricity, toilet facilities, perimeter fence, security etc
iii. Provision/upgrading of laboratory equipment
iv. Provision and stoking of the School Library
v. Development of sporting facilities
vi. Attraction of external grant
8. The role of the Alumni Association in members’ social and economic development
As earlier noted, alumni association is a fraternity with strong allegiance to their alma Mata and to each other. Through networking, they can impact each other socially and economically. They attend weddings, funerals and other social activities involving their members and give support. Admission into higher institutions, job opportunities, juicy appointments etc are influenced in favour of members families. Distressed members are known to have been rescued by other alumni members also.
At the SET level, the gains of social capital can best be appropriated. Social capital is the glue that binds people with the same value together to pursue common goal for the betterment of individual or group. This is also best illustrated using the military tradition and a case of an army officer that fell into a deep pit. The story goes like this:
A Colonel fell into a well. A soldier was summoned to throw a rope into the well and pull the Colonel out. The moment the Colonel was about getting out of the well, the soldier would leave the rope, stand at attention to salute and the Colonel would fall back into the well. This happened several times.
A senior officer, Brigadier was brought as he would not need to salute the Colonel. After the Brigadier threw the rope into the well, the Colonel grabbed it and as soon as he was almost out of the well, he saw the Brigadier, he left the rope to salute his superior officer, Brigadier and fell back to the well.
There was total silence. Then the Colonel shouted from inside the well down below “You idiots, get hold of one of my classmates!”
LESSON: Classmates are much more important.
9. ICAGSOBA so far
The events that took place before, during and after the 60th Anniversary are enough to demonstrate how an active alumni association can contribute to the social and educational development of members and the school. I read how the State Governor was invited and a top government official (an alumnus) had to visit the School and suggested the idea that the road from Orita-Aperin to the School Gate was to be graded. I read about how each SET was to adopt a project and some SETs turned around the Office of the Principal, School Gate was given a befitting look, borehole was sunk, boundary walls erected for the School and so on. One notable event that happened after was the befitting send-forth for the immediate past Principal – Mr. Soji Akinniyi by members of his SET (1979 SET) of which I belong.
Governors have been appointed for each SET and the directive that each SET should adopt at least a project in the School is worthwhile and highly commendable.
10. Recommendations for further improvement
10.1. Old students
i. We need to properly organize and reposition ourselves for impact.
ii. Annual fundraising dinner
iii. End-of-year get-together
iv. Formation of branches in cities/countries with sufficient number of old students. I am aware of the US branch and efforts to start one in the UK. We should beam our searchlight on big establishments and fish out our old boys there. We can use the social media/online survey to ask old students to indicate their name, work place, contact phone number and year graduated to boost our database.
v. Launching of an endowment fund
10.2. School Authority
The School authority should launch out to reach as many old students as possible for profiling. Database should be created and School Principal should be in contact with various branches of the Alumni Association both home and abroad.
The School should cultivate and court the students right from their first year to their final year first through good governance without compromising on discipline. The students should be made to believe in patriotism to the School. In our days in the School, there was a programme called “Operation Do Something for your School” that we passed through few weeks before we graduated. We were made to repair the roads within the School premises. Where Principal and teachers are perceived as sadists and wicked, students’ loyalty to the School will be jeopadised. I recall my sad experience when I travelled down from the University of Calabar to collect my WAEC certificate from the School to enable me to be screened for graduation at Calabar. I met the Principal who told me the certificates had not been received by the School from WAEC. I begged the Principal to give me official letter stating the situation and addressed to the Registrar of my University. To my surprise, the Principal refused, all my entreaties fell on deaf ears. I was disappointed thoroughly. It took the grace of God to remain loyal to the School till today.
Let me conclude by reiterating that alumni association is a veritable tool to enhance the physical, social and educational development in our society and that ICAGSOBA is on the right path.
Long live CAC
Long live ICAGS
Long live ICAGSOBA
Long live Nigeria
Adebowale, S. (205). Role of Alumni Association in Revival of Public Education in Nigeria by Olusegun Adeniyi. Available on https://theeagleonline.com.ng Accessed 25/01/2021
Beare, D. (2005). One Time Students into Lifetime Ambassadors: The Role of Alumni Relations. Available on: https://evolllution.com Accessed 25/01/2021
Lambert, A. D., & Miller, A. L. (2014). Lower response rates on alumni surveys might not mean lower response representativeness. Educational Research Quarterly, 37(3), 38–51.
Editors' note: the event ended at 1500 hours Nigerian time.