By Chimezie Anaso
Most Rev. Dr Valerian Okeke, the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, has lauded mission schools for their contributions to sound moral and educational upbringing of youths in Nigeria.
Okeke gave the compliment while delivering a sermon at a church service to mark the 60th Anniversary of Fr Joseph’s Memorial High School, Aguleri, Anambra East Local Government Area, Anambra.
He said mission schools were responsible for the production of some of the best human resources in Nigeria but regretted that government took over the schools.
The bishop said the return of mission schools had revived the old tradition of excellence, and urged Anambra Government to continue to support mission schools as much as it does to the public schools.
According to him, mission schools are known for excellence, some of them remain the best, Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha, Queen of the Roasary College, Onitsha, Regina Pacis, Nnewi, which conquered the world recently and of course, Fr Joseph’s.
“We want to thank the forefathers of Aguleri who made this land available 60 years ago, though some of their children thought it was too big but now you have seen that it is not, we continue to ask for friendly coexistence between the community and the school.
“While congratulating us, we want to thank the government for returning mission schools to the owners and in a special way to the governor of Anambra for the infrastructure and facilities he is supporting us with,” he said.
Okeke prayed at the site of the proposed 3,000 capacity auditorium in the school with a Stem Laboratory which Fr. Joseph’s Old Boys Association (FAJOBA) had planned to build for the school.
Fifty-seven students were administered with the sacrament of confirmation by the bishop.
On his part, Gov. Willie Obiano said he was happy that Fr. Joseph’s School which occupied a pride of place in the history of Anambra and beyond was located in his community and that he was pleased to identify with the school.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Aguleri, is where Blessed Iwene Tansi last served as a parish priest before be went to England.
Obiano, who was represented by Chief Primus Odili, his Chief of Staff, said the blocks of the dormitory he built would help the students to have a conducive environment for improved learning.
“What I want to admonish the students is to make the best use of the opportunities available which their forebears did not have, they must put the hostels and laboratories to best use.
“The return of schools to the missions is a great thing, supervision and monitoring is intense here now, strong morals are restored, the facilities are back and teachers are more committed to duty.
“On our part as a government, we have strengthened supervision, our public schools are the best you can think of and as a matter of fact, it is the standard that our public schools are setting that private schools are struggling to meet up with,” he said.
Contributing, Chief Chinedu Obidigwe, member representing Anambra East and Anambra West Federal Constituency who attended the school, said he was impressed with the success of the school.
He promised to support the auditorium project and personally set up a computer laboratory in the school to enable students get early exposure and be better equipped with Information and Communication Technology.
Mr Felix Okafor, a member of 1960-1964 set, blamed cultism and decay in the society on the takeover of schools by the government which could not manage them effectively as the original owners.
Okafor, who described himself as the oldest of the old boys, said education and morals were vital to the training of the child but the moral aspect of training was lacking in public schools, urging government to emulate the missions.
Ther President of FAJOBA, Dr Emman Udeakpeh, who led his colleagues in cutting the anniversary cake, said the school had reshaped the lives of many.
Udeakpeh said the auditorium project would be pursued with vigour and promised that it would be delivered in record time.
Some FAJOBA members at the event included Chief Mike Utah, former Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Peter Obi, Chief Raymond Chetuya, a retired Director at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Emma Okafor, a serving permanent secretary and priests among others. (NAN)