It was a typical school day in the life of students of Akin Ogunpola Model College, Akinale. Akinale is a non-descript town along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway close to Ewekoro cement factory. The town is so small; an impatient driver will easily miss it.
Akin Ogunpola Model College (AOMC) is one of the recently established secondary schools in Ogun State. An initiative of Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s government, it is named for an eminent personality who hails from Akinale town. The school officially resumed on September16 2016. Two years later, the student population has steadily risen to 116 with the complement of a 76-man staff, comprising both teaching and non-teaching personnel to support the boarding school.
Schools: One of the two schools on the PASCH scheme in Ogun state (the second is the private school, Corona), AOMC became eligible for the PASCH programme by the commencement of German language for her students.
German language is one of the three foreign languages (others are French and Arabic) being studied in the model college. The first set of students who began to take German classes two years ago are currently in their last year.
The school’s third principal, Mrs Mojisola Adenowo, is pleased with the uptake of German language by the students. Although foreign languages are optional, German classes are well attended and popular among the students.
“I think the facilities is even enough to attract the students. You know when you have enough facilities both to learn in audio and video, it helps and aids the learning process,” she quipped, lauding the learning aids that the PASCH programme made available for learning. The attractive German laboratory was not only alluring to the students; on its account, teachers of other disciplines also took a keen interest in learning basic communication skills in German.
Mrs Oluwadamilola of Corona School Agbara has similar sentiments. Corona School currently introduces German as a compulsory subject for their Year 9 students and plans are on the way to ensure the language is offered in every school under the Corona Schools’ Trust Council.
This academic year, German classes will spread to more junior classes in Akin Ogunpola Model College. Wisdom Ferdinand and Ruth Ogunleye, graduates of German language from Obafemi Awolowo University, seem equal to the task.
Mr. Ferdinand is happy that German is being introduced to students from secondary school, rather than at university level like he experienced during his undergraduate studies at Ile-Ife. Although he noted the challenge of distractibility because classes usually held in the afternoons, he commended the audio-visual nature of their sessions: “I think because of the audio-visual nature of learning the language and how we teach them with the materials, speakers, televisions and then we play the stuff for them, I think that’s what makes them interested.”
Ruth Ogunleye, who teaches the younger classes, grapples with the short attention span of her students but she has been researching and experimenting with fun ways of interesting them in the language.
Paying attention in German classes was rewarded last summer in both schools. Three students, Olusola Bisola, Bakare Abdulrahman and Sekinat Ahmad, were selected from AOMC for the summer boot camp in Aachen, Germany where they spent three weeks. It was their first time outside Nigeria and they still reeling from the excitement of travelling in an aircraft and visiting new climes.
Students of both schools were the only students from sub-Saharan Africa. Their experiences were numerous: they made friends, tried out different cuisines, visited museums, participated in sporting activities and daily German classes.
Abdulrahman wants to become a nuclear physicist and his worldview since he visited Germany has changed for the better. He constantly practises the language in his spare time and can now read German novels.
Sekinat, 16, thinks German is a tasking language, but has gotten over the confusing consonants. She is still fascinated by the fluency of Germans speaking their language. She hopes to be as fluent in German as she is in Yoruba.
Olusola Bisola passed his A2 examinations in Aachen but he is not resting his oars yet. In his own words, “for the past over two years I have learnt a lot of things through German language. It has improved me academically, socially, and it has brought a different view in how I see life.” He hopes to move to Germany to study medicine.
The most exciting thing about these students who have become local heroes in their school is the possibilities afforded them by their proficiency in the German language. They have the PASCH programme to thank for this.