By DAN OKEREKE
An adage says the only reward for success is a hunger for more success. Twenty years after their establishment and currently rated among the five best colleges in Nigeria, the American University of Nigeria (AUN) Schools have turned this adage into a song. Recently, the management of the AUN Schools rolled out a well-thought-out strategic master plan for future reinvention that will put them a notch or two above their contemporaries, letting the successes of the past inspire the future.
The strategic plan, conceived as School Improvement Project (SIP), was unveiled before an enthusiastic audience of the Schools’ alumni and their proud parents, as well as a cross-section of business and political elites at a dinner event in Abuja. It was a masterstroke in conceptualization and implementation, considering the passionate, financial, material, and moral support the alumni gave and pledged to the project. Whenever you see success, according to Peter Drucker, someone once made a courageous decision.
In the coming years and decades, this wise decision by the management of AUN Schools to reinvent the institution and create buy-in for alumni, parents, and the community will be celebrated as brave and astute. The presentation of the SIP was part of activities commemorating the 20th anniversary of the founding of the AUN Schools, which presently comprise the Academy (Nigerian and British track), the Charter School (American track), and the Elementary and Early Learning Center (pre-school cadres), sister institutions to the famous American University of Nigeria.
Founded twenty years ago through the vision of former Nigeria’s Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, a man whom the United States of America’s Peace Corps at its golden jubilee anniversary celebration said has done more than any philanthropist in Africa for the cause of education, the AUN Schools breathe the Founder’s philosophical vision. “Education,” says Atiku Abubakar, “is the greatest investment a nation can make to lay the foundations of liberty and freedom, the activation of individual, social and collective values, as well as the achievements of the well-being of the people.”
One of his most accomplished legacies and enduring investments in creating opportunities for youths in Nigeria, the AUN Schools have in the last twenty years, provided quality education and sound moral upbringing to young Nigerians and Africans, irrespective of background. “I have always held the unwavering conviction that education is the key to success in life and must be accorded top priority at all levels,” Atiku Abubakar said at the event.
In the words of Hajia Asma’u Atiku Abubakar, an alumna and now Deputy Director of AUN Schools, the last two decades has been a success story of academic excellence and progress, even as the third decade beckons.
In readiness to meet the tasks of graduating the best and brightest students in the challenging educational environment of the 21st century, the management of AUN Schools initiated the ambitious SIP. The SIP is an all-embracing, all-inclusive plan aimed at refocusing and rebranding the premier Academy with the collaborative support and approval of the old students, staff, teachers, and community members. By all relevant parameters, the AUN Schools belong to the top echelon of private education institutions. As pop star, Madonna, once famously said, “no matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”
Under a visionary and avant-garde management, the AUN Schools’ improvement project is transforming the institution into a better version of itself. The SIP is fundamentally comprehensive and wide-ranging. It requires the full understanding and support of all stakeholders. Ms. Asma’u Atiku Abubakar stressed this point in her welcome speech at the unveiling of the scheme. Banking on the excellent foundation in knowledge, character, and patriotism that students received from the Schools, the Academy’s management hopes to source funds from stakeholders.
The successful implementation of the first phase of the SIP has already positioned the AUN Schools at the pinnacle of the Nigerian school system, exactly where it aimed to be. The first phase aimed to expand infrastructural capacity, add a creative component to the learning and growth experience, and foster significant social contacts. It involved improvement in the Schools’ physical infrastructure – all school buildings have been refurbished and repainted, and spaces remodeled. These include classrooms, personalized learning spaces, hostels, and residential support facilities like dining, furniture, convenience, and laundry rooms. There are also technical and administrative components under the first phase. This involved utterly digitalizing the learning platforms and retraining teaching and non-teaching staff to key into 21st-century curriculum advancements. To boost staff morale, the Schools’ management effected a 25-percent welfare increase and launched an all-out parents-teachers engagement, a move applauded and reciprocated by staff.
It is with the same zest and verve that the School’s management is approaching the second and third phases in line with set objectives. The ultimate aim is to make the AUN Schools self-sufficient and better positioned to serve the community’s educational needs. At the presentation of the SIP before an appreciative audience of alumni, parents, educationists, the business community, and other education stakeholders, its goal became very apparent. The old students who attended the colorful event took time to explore their role in the grand scheme set out by management to improve both the academic performance of the teaching staff as well as the students themselves by modernizing the School’s physical infrastructure, improving the quality of the learning environment through the integration of technology, and enhancing service delivery per the best practices found around the world.
The SIP is an inclusive rehabilitation plan that has a role for parents, school councils, teachers, and community members. It consists of three phases: infrastructure, technical, and administrative. Each stage focuses on a different aspect of the School’s improvement and strikes a familiar chord with the alumni who share the same aspirations as management to lift their alma mater as a social responsibility. After the SIP, the AUN Schools will be repositioned to become the unquestioned industry leader and a center of academic excellence in the Northeast and the rest of the country.
The SIP was initiated to enhance the teaching and learning environments within the schools and expand the pool of individuals with access to high-quality educational opportunities. The enthusiastic support of the schools’ alumni, financial and moral, affirms the aptness of the management’s inclusion strategy and confirms Atiku Abubakar’s assertion at the event, that education is a collective responsibility of everyone in the community. Led by the pioneer graduating class of 2008, the Alumni spoke glowingly about the SIP and offered unconditional support to the management’s reinvention plan, which sits well with the larger vision of the Schools’ Founder, Atiku Abubakar.
The AUN Schools were founded in 2002 as international schools focused on students’ intellectual and moral development. The secondary sections have continuously achieved outstanding performance in examinations administered by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO).
The Schools operate American and Nigerian curricula to foster a typical learning style among their pupils so they can compete globally. With a focus on student-driven learning and critical thinking, the primary and secondary sections of AUN Academy have established the benchmark for private secondary education in Nigeria. As Director Asma’u succinctly put it: “We offer our graduates an exceptional academic experience and teach them how to be global citizens who can compete with the best and at all levels.”
Every graduate of the Academy is equipped with the relevant leadership skills and attitudes to stand out in the world. Students engage in community service as part of their education by giving back to their community and proposing solutions to societal issues. At AUN Schools, emphasis is placed on moral discipline, diversity, self-development, self-discipline, and cultural sensitivity.
The AUN Schools provide students with a highly digitalized academic environment and small class sizes where computers and tablets maximize the learning experience. The Academy (secondary section) contains a well-equipped laboratory, music room, four scientific labs, an information technology laboratory, and a magnificent cafeteria delivering five nutritious meals daily. For a suitable study atmosphere, the campus is wired with Internet access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is supplied with electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The AUN Academy is a Cambridge-approved test center that offers International General Certificate of Secondary Education classes (IGCSE), which also facilitates students’ enrollment in other reputable international institutions.
The AUN Schools are international institutions offering day and boarding programs conceived to provide both educational and residential wellness for students. The ultra-modern campus also features a swimming pool, basketball and lawn tennis courts, and a football pitch, all adding fun to learning. The Schools boast a formidable list of alumni both in Nigeria and abroad.
•Okereke can be reached on [email protected]