(Nigeria): What will you say if you were asked to debate the topics: “Women
education is better than men education” or “Doctors are more
useful in the society than farmers” or “Farmers are more useful in
the society than teachers.” What will you say either for or
against each of the topic? What points will you muster to win your
Those were the debate topics given to pupils of all primary
schools in Nigeria to talk about and Ansarul-Islam G.U.B.E.A.
Primary School, Kuntu, Ilorin emerged the best or the winner out
of them. The school which was founded in 1967 by the notable
Islamic scholar, Sheikh Muhammed Kamaldeen was later taken over by
the State government in 1976 during the military era.
For each of the topics, the points made by the pupils, their
gestures and gesticulations, their elocution and eloquence, their
power of delivery were assessed and scored. At the end of it all,
Ansarul-Islam was adjudged the best.
On quiz competition the pupils were drilled on general current
affairs such as “which state is known as centre of excellence?”
”.....is the Senate President”, “which Speaker of the House of
Representatives was impeached for corruption,” among others.
Specific time was allotted to the
question within which the students must answer the question
carrying 2 points each. If they failed to answer within the
specified time or gave the wrong answer then bonus point of 1 is
allocated to their opponents if they too gave the correct answer.
In an interview with Education Review, Abubakar Mohammed, one of
the school’s representatives in the debate and quiz competition,
said, he was a bit jittery at the initial stage of the competition
because some of the contestants were from Abuja private schools
but after a while “I discovered that they are not better than any
of us from public schools. By the second round, we summoned up
courage and put in our best to beat the other schools. Though I
was not close to my other colleagues before the competition, now
we are very close; the competition has united us. Now we are the
best of friends and we shall continue to develop the
Asked what he wants to be in life, he said he wants to be a pilot
because he is fascinated by the way pilots fly or maneuver the
plane in the air.
Idayat Abdulsalam who also represented the
school along with other members of the team wants to be a nurse
not only because she wants to help save lives but also because she
loves the way they dress.
Tucked in a corner of the city of Ilorin in West Local Government
Area of the state, Ansarul-Islam Primary School hardly cuts the
image of a school that will make it to the top as far as learning
and knowledge in Nigerian education system is concerned. It never
occurred to Hajiya Rahinat M. Ottan, the 19th head teacher of the
school, that a school with such a humble beginning, with about 200
pupils and less than five classrooms will, one day, emerge an
overall-winner in the country, over better-built and
Speaking with Education Review, in her office in Ilorin, Ottan who
was appointed headmistress in 2004 but later transferred to the
school, 2006, said she saw the need to set up a Literary and
Debating Club in the school as she did where she was coming from.
Being a graduate of English/Education, she believed that that will
help the pupils to express themselves.
“I started this assignment of producing the best students in my
locality when I was made the headmistress of Iwanu ‘B’ G.U.B.E.A.
School Ilorin,” Ottan recalls. “I started by organizing debate and
quiz contests among my students at all levels and later extended
it to schools in my neighbourhood after I asked and got the
approval of the State Education Authority.
“Various debating and quiz competitions have been organized among
schools in Ilorin –West comprising about 68 primary schools, both
private and public schools and my students have been performing
above students from other schools. My students once represented
the Local Government at the State level and came first and
proceeded to represent the state at the zonal level, that is, the
North Central Zone comprising Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Nassarawa, Benue
and Plateau states. It was as the representative of North Central
Zone that we emerged the winner of the prestigious presidential
award as the best primary school in the federation, as far as
debate and knowledge of quiz questions, is concerned.”
When asked the secret of her success, Ottan answered that it is
determination, diligence and faith in the reward from Allah. These
were what opened the door of opportunities for the school to
attain its present status, she insisted.
Speaking on how she felt as a winning participant in the
competition, the leader of the team, 10-year-old Falilat Quadir,
who also happens to be the head girl of the school, said she was
happy that she was part of the history-making win. The girl who
wants to be a medical doctor expressed her joy over the victory
and urged her colleagues not to relent in their efforts to make
the nation proud even at the international level.
The school has recorded series of achievements since Ottan took
over the headship. They include the winning, by three of its
teachers, of the Bournvita award for best teachers. But the icing
on the cake is their emergence as the overall best Primary School
in quiz competition in Nigeria. It was not something achieved on
the platter of gold though as Ottan had to do some battles with
her staff, who initially misunderstood her mission, something she
attributes to palpable ignorance rather than deliberate mischief
“Initially, some teachers saw me as a tyrant but later they
relented in their hostile attitude towards me. I was blackmailed
as being too harsh but with time the staff came to understand that
what I was doing was for the benefit of the school,” she says.
“Right now, we are the best of friends.”
Mrs. Remi Adetoun, the class teacher in charge of primary six,
confirmed this when she described the head teacher “as a good
leader who abhors indiscipline, in whatever form, from both staff
and students of the school” while Mrs. Rachel Adedayo, the
assistant head teacher of the school believes that “this award of
excellence is as a result of the efforts of the school authority
under the leadership of the headmistress who is not only a
mistress but also a mother.” She therefore urged parents and
guardians of the school to join the teachers in nurturing their
wards to higher level in life.
Ottan is not happy about one thing though: the frequent transfer
of her teachers to other schools. “Since we started our winning
streaks, my teachers have been constantly transferred which
presently leaves the school short of teachers,” she complained to
“Some of these teachers are taken to
secondary schools while no replacement has been made. When I
complained to the management they asked me to continue the
training I am giving to my teachers because they were transferred
to where they will be more useful. Despite the setback, we have
continued to trudge on without looking back.”