Founder of Genius Camp, an adult school with branches in Lagos and Ogun States, Oluwarotimi Johnson, speaks with Medinat Kanabe about his passion for educating adults amongst others.
Why open a school for adults instead of the normal school? What have been the challenges?
I believe God opened my eyes to the area of adult education to make the ‘illiterates’ relevant to today’s world. When we started, we faced challenges of adults who thought there was no way they could learn to read again, that they have other things to do and responsibilities to meet…. So what we did was go the extra mile to encourage them..
What makes us unique is that even if you have not been to school at all, we make sure that you’re able to read under a few weeks. We have a curriculum that we have developed, because if we say we should follow the laid down primary school curriculum, we would take too long teaching something we can teach in a short time.
I also believe God wants me to help a lot of people regain their lost confidence. I know people who look big from the outside but small things will make them feel defeated. Another reason why I opened the school is that there are many people between age 16 and 70, who get insulted because they can not write a teller to deposit money in the bank. Whenever I see such people, I try as much as I can to cover them up by assisting them. So, it is a passion in me.
Some parents have come here to enrol their children for JAMB or WAEC or other exams tutorials, but end up registering themselves because they see other adults like themselves here learning. I also like to build people’s confidence.
How do you convince them to enrol?
Many people want to enrol for adult education, but for some reasons they refuse. I tried to find those reasons, work on them to my advantage and then advertise the school to them.
One of the reasons is that most of the places where they teach adults do not befit them. You don’t expect a man who has four houses, several cars and very comfortable, to come and receive lectures sitting on a chair meant for primary school children.
Another problem is time. Many of them are very busy people, so we allow them decide the time that is convenient for them. Apart from that we have professional lecturers who understand their profession.
What do you put them through when they first come in and what reason do they give for coming to school?
Because we are professionals, we already have an idea of what they are coming in with. We first do an interview to know each person’s reason for coming. Some want to go to school to prove their past generations wrong; some because they just want to learn to read and write; some because they want to do well in business; or just meet up in the society not necessarily to go to the university. Some, as pastors want to go to school so as to relate in English language with their congregations who cannot speak the local dialect used in the church.
We also ask the level of education they have had before to determine their level of intelligence, so we can know where to fix them, because no matter how far or low your educational background is, we have a place for you.
We teach anything as long as that is what the person requires to learn. We teach adults the A B C alphabets; we have gone as far as holding their hands to write. We also teach them the two-letter words and other basic things. The way we have structured it, even if you have never been in a formal school setting and no matter you age, you will be accepted.
What do you call the classes?
We call them levels because the word level makes them feel better than calling them Basic 1. We also refer to some as language class and exam class too. Usually, they learn in three weeks, what a 4-year old would learn in a year; don’t forget that the adult brain is more developed.
What else do you teach them?
We have a course called the Mind Programme, structured to help programme their minds so that they can manage issues that occur outside the classrooms, like communication, how to do business differently from an illiterate; such basic things that they don’t pay attention to, including how to deal with people, how to handle family issues, break barriers; how to...read more