Citadel of Learning for a Treasured Child
By Saviour Ekpe
Tower of Ivory Schools is a name that is synonymous with distinction, excellence, discipline, creativity, confidence and above all, the fear of God. Tower of Ivory Schools, a co-educational Christian institution with elementary and high school located at serene environment in the heart of Abak and Uyo towns and churned out well equipped graduates since its inception. The vision of its establishment, according to its founder came towards the retirement period of the Chairman, Board of Governors, DIG Udom Ekpoudom from his meritorious service in the Nigerian Police Force, “when I was about retiring, I was thinking about what to do for my people in appreciation. That inspired me to come up with the idea of these schools”.
The schools kick-started with secondary section later followed by elementary in Abak local government area in 2010 as well as the elementary section in 2015 at Uyo local government area, while plans are underway to kick-start elementary section in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital city in September this year. It is on record that at the earlier assumption of the school, the then Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio gave scholarship to thirty one (31) students, one per local government to study in the school and have already graduated with distinctions. On assumption of office, the incumbent Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel has keyed in by giving initial scholarship to eleven (11) students recently and they have commenced academic programme.
Tower of Ivory Schools today, boast of over 200 (two hundred) seasoned and well trained staff; teaching and non-teaching graduate staff in different disciplines in both elementary and high schools and accommodated students across the states of the federation including some foreign students. It is interesting to note that Tower of Ivory Schools operates Federal Government minimum salary scale, promote staff as at when due while on the standby to increase it whenever federal government does, this is in a bid to encourage effective teaching and commitment on the part of the staff.
It is amazing that Tower of Ivory Schools is well equipped to promote teaching and learning in both elementary and high school sections. Tower of Ivory Schools has laboratory in each of the subject areas.
Language Laboratory: is a teacher-controlled system connected to a number of student booths, containing a student’s control mechanism and a headset with a microphone and a computer set in each of the booths. Language laboratory apart from making the students to have interactive sessions, it provides equal opportunity to all the students to hear the instructor clearly, irrespective of place where they are seated. There will be less miscommunication because of direct nature of the sound transmission. It also provides the privacy that encourages the shy students to speak without any hesitation. In addition, instructor can speak to individual or group of students in privacy without interrupting other members of class. Language laboratory motivates students to talk freely and lose the shyness when talking in front of their friends. Attention on subject is increased resulting in better retention of the concepts. Furthermore, it develops the listening and communication skills, since they hear correct pronunciation through their headphones. Learners show more enthusiasm and excitement in learning lesson because of learning laboratory system. Teacher can look after each student, which is not possible in case of the regular classroom. In the laboratory, instructor can communicate with many students by pressing a mouse key in order to talk with students. Efficient use of time and learning efficiency is much more than usual classroom learning. This mechanism fosters more interactive session between students and teacher at Tower of Ivory Schools. The language laboratory brings variety in teaching learning process instead of boring verbal centred technique. Basically, in Tower of Ivory Schools as at present, the language laboratory takes care of foreign languages and indigenous languages.
Home Economics laboratory: Home Economics laboratory teaches students of Tower of Ivory Schools the value of nutritional choices, food and kitchen safety and how to cook different food. To effectively teach students, the Home Economics laboratory is designed to provide students with practical cooking space, room to prepare foods, snacks etc and space to store utensils. Designing a Home Economics laboratory takes several attempts at configuring tools and equipment into an organized, functional layout that will have lasting value. Activities like salad-dressing, painting, cake baking, Christmas tree, needle work and crafts are taught. These activities not only bring out the creativity of students but also foster team work.
Chemistry Laboratory: chemistry laboratory is designed to support and illustrate chemical concepts studied in the classroom as well as to introduce important laboratory techniques and encourage analytical thinking to their students by the star studded teachers. Mathematical Laboratory: this is a place where students learn and explore various mathematical concepts and verify various mathematical facts and theorems using variety of activities and it is well equipped with necessary chemicals and equipment. It provides an opportunity to the students to understand and internalise the basic mathematical concepts through concrete objects and situations. It provides greater scope for individual participation in the process of learning and becoming autonomous learners.
Biology laboratory: a laboratory for biological research. The school also has well equipped laboratory for Physics. Students use these laboratories to learn through experiments. Every year latest equipment, specimens, charts etc. are purchased for these laboratories. Computer laboratory: Tower of Ivory Schools has a-well-designed and separate computer laboratory for kids in their elementary schools as well as students for the secondary sections tutored by well-educated and qualified teachers, with one-on-one access, which means there is one computer for each child. This is accompanied PowerPoint presentations and innovative software with multimedia facilities.
Tower of Ivory Schools whose mission is clearly spelt out is “to support the government in providing quality education as a right of the child through adequate and appropriate exposure in the training of the mind and acquisition of useful skills…also providing the child with a foundation that is necessary for survival in a competitive world” has been actualized in different fronts. Aside busy but coordinated theoretical academic activities, also provides standard Technical Workshop especially now that technology is driving the world space. Its technical workshop is meant to carter for students with technical skills in all areas of human endeavour including mechanical, Welding, Carpentry, electrical. Technical workshop helps students develop technical capabilities to the point where one can even deliver professional work to standard; this is why some chairs used at Tower of Ivory Schools are produced at the school workshop.
School library: Their library provides many children with their first chance to use and enjoy a library. The school library is a welcoming place for study and reading. The school library supports the students and teachers by providing access to current, adequate and appropriate information resources. It is also to ensure that all the students, teachers and staff are effectively using the ideas and information. The library encourages the reading and development of students’ independent learning skills. Tower of Ivory school library has both printed as well as audio-visual materials for easy comprehension and learning. There are several activity books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, picture books. Their library is also provided with daily and weekly newspapers – local, regional and national, magazines and other periodicals.
Tower of Ivory Schools Medical Centre is staffed with registered nurses who provide medical cover for 24 hours to students and staff on emergency with about six sick beds. In addition, many members of the school staff are qualified first aiders and are available through boarding or the out of hours activity they are participating in, should the pupils require any assistance.
The Medical Centre staffers provide a high standard of evidence-based medical and nursing care to students. They provide listening, holistic service that respects the individual’s right and ensure strict confidentiality; Promote good physical and mental health and an awareness of health issues, as well as caring for the ill; maintain good communication and liaison with all levels of the school, parents and careers. Others are to empower students to manage their health needs, with support, so that they can move towards independence in their adult world; to have an up-to-date, professional team providing a high standard of evidence-based care and to work as a team, fostering individual skills and sharing expertise.
One of the school health care personnel told Century Newsfront ‘every pupil is different, and we use a holistic approach in planning their care, taking into consideration their physical, emotional and psychological needs. We complete individual health care planning, for health and special needs. We work closely with all pupils to help them take responsibility for their own health and with the teaching staff to ensure that each pupil fulfils his potential. We aim to treat pupils with a caring and professional manner. We strive to keep the pupils in class so that they do not miss too many lessons and aim to provide safe healthcare provision in school according to professional standards. We are always pleased to talk to any parent/guardian about their child’s health, either on the telephone or in person, and we are always available for pupils to talk to us. Sometimes the pupils talk to us in confidence, and we respect this, except where their welfare is at risk’.
The vision of the Chairman, Board of Governors was to ensure the students and pupils are morally sound, academically excellent, socially and psychologically balanced by making provisions to meet all these. For instance, in sports, to make a child of the school socially and psychologically balanced, the school provided a-500-capacity standard sports stadium with well designed pitches; above the ground swimming pool; basketball/tennis courts; squash court among many other indoor and outdoor games for both students and staffers.
It is also very instructive that to realize self-worth, maintain decorum and a high rate of discipline among peers, the school dormitory is segmented into four categories for the high school students: junior Secondary girls have different building from senior Secondary girls as junior Secondary boys also separate from senior Secondary boys. This is meant to cheek bullying. To maintain sound moral standard, Tower of Ivory Schools built and equipped 2000 and 3000 capacity worship chapels for Catholic and non-Catholic members both manned by chaplains.
The star studded staffers of the schools are led and supervised by ebullient management staff members viz: DIG Udom Ekpoudom (Rtd), OON-Chairman, BoGs; Lady Dorothy Ekpoudom – Coordinator Of Schools; Engr. Ebong Ekpoudom – Director Of Administration and Projects; Mr Uchenna Enyia –Principal; Mr Ekwere Effiong -Head of Elementary school, Uyo; Mr Ukpong Anietie – Head of Elementary School, Abak; Mr Effiong Ekanem – VP Academic; Miss Mandu Ekanem – VP Administration; Mr Smith Ubokudom – VP Special Duties; Mr. Emeka Prince Efughi – HOD, Vocational Science; Mr Lazarus Anthony – HOD, International Examinations; Mr Uduak Idio – Assistant Head of Schools (Ediene); Miss Hannah Eyo – HOD, Arts and Languages; Mr. Imoh John Udofia – HOD, Social Science and Mr. Solomon Edem – HOD, Technology. Others are Mr. Alfred Okon – HOD, Mathematics; Mr. Ohuegbe Chijioke – HOD, Science; Mr. John John Udo – Compound Master; Miss. Itohowo Asukwo Ekpa – Compound Mistress; Miss. Abia Mbukpa – Guidance Counselor; Dr. Cyril Okon Cletus- HOD, Medicals; Mrs. Josephine Ikemesit Ayara- Chief Nursing Officer; Miss. Idongesit George – Bursar; Mr. Emmanuel Akpokpokpor – Chief Security Officer; Mrs. Cornelia Idiong- Chief Catering Officer; Miss Lilian Johnson – Librarian; Mr Philip Oscar Umoh – Administrative Officer; Mr. Damien .J. Akpan- Guidance Counselor and Mr. Akan Udofia – Sports Master.
To make thing easy for the staff and students, Tower of Ivory Schools provided a-state-of-the-Art water treatment plant within the premises to produce water of different volumes of containers with best hands to ensure that students drink healthier and have accessible water at all times. Tower of Ivory Schools is also supported by a well established modern farm that produces ‘almost all food items’ that are used in cooking for the students according to the Director of Schools, Lady Dorothy Udom Ekpoudom. This ranges from poultry; fish of different types and sizes as well as fruits and orchard.
Tower of Ivory Schools is an all-round educational institution. It has structured the students to meet up with the modern day realty. This has proven Hirst Theory right that “knowledge has no subject structure in itself, knowledge is not pigeon-holed, it is a unity and can be organized for learning in any way that suits our purpose”. DIG Udom Ekpoudom’s contribution to the development of education in Nigeria is a lesson and is also seen as the greatest patriotism a man could render to his fatherland. This is a lesson to fellow Nigerians and people around the world. Tower of Ivory Schools really, is a citadel of learning for a treasured child.