Meadow Hall Group, founded by Mrs. Kehinde Nwani, is an educational group with six subsidiaries; Meadow Hall Education, Meadow Hall Consult, Spring Meadow Edutainment, Meadow Hall Branchise, Meadow Hall Resources and Meadow Hall Foundation. Meadow Hall Education is one of the renowned educational institutions in Nigeria that prides itself as “the place to excel” in academics and multiple intelligences, as evidenced by the quality of education they offer through the British and Nigerian curricula. The school was recently awarded COBIS Patron’s Accredited Member status.
CEO and Founder of Meadow Hall Group, Mrs. Kehinde Nwani, tells the vision, focus and some developmental initiatives of Meadow Hall to ensure a well-rounded education and holistic development of children and why continuous teacher training is key to achieving this.
What’s your name and can you tell us your role at Meadow Hall Group?
My name is Kehinde Nwani and I’m the CEO and Founder of Meadow Hall Group. I oversee the entire Group and as the Visionary, I continue to cast the vision, inspiring all members of staff to buy into it so that it becomes a SHARED vision and I also continue to monitor that we do not lose sight of the objectives for which Meadow Hall was set up. I am a social entrepreneur and I am passionate about the holistic development of children who are 100% the future of our nation.
You were once a lawyer with extensive experience in the legal profession. What motivated you to go into the education sector?
Purpose and passion motivated me to go into the education sector. Yes, I practiced law for about 15years but wasn’t fulfilled. I had studied law for the wrong reasons – it was a much more respected course and one I thought would guarantee me success, fame and glamour. This caused me to change from Education (which was the course I entered university to study) to Law after my first year in the university. Only to find out when I started to practice law that it wasn’t really for me. I didn’t enjoy it much. I often liken my story to that of Jonah, who God told to go to Nineveh but for selfish reasons went to Tarshish. But God in His mercy brought me back from my sojourn in law to the place he had ordained for me and in that place I have found passion, fulfillment of purpose and relevance. I am in God’s will and I am happy.
I believe the birthing of Meadow Hall GROUP, a parent company with 6 subsidiaries, which takes care of every relevant aspect of education is a major achievement, an idea that is unique to us.
Tell us about the vision and objective of Meadow Hall. What are your contributions in improving the educational system? What would you say are your major achievements?
The vision of Meadow Hall is to raise ‘change makers’ and our objective is to use education as a tool for societal transformation. Our contributions in improving the educational system include raising leaders, adopting the use of multiple intelligences, which allows children excel in their different areas of strength (which might not necessarily be in academics) thereby giving them tools that can help them succeed in future. Other contributions include our teacher training programmes like the Graduate Teacher Trainee Programme (GTTP), Meadow Hall Finishing School for Teachers (MFST) and Free Teacher Professional Development for teachers in public schools and low cost private schools. Through our Foundation, we organise the Inspirational Educator Awards (INSEA) and hold education conventions for teachers. For more information, visit – http://meadowhallfoundation.org/education-convention/
To nominate a teacher for INSEA, visit – http://www.inseawards.org
I believe the birthing of Meadow Hall GROUP, a parent company with 6 subsidiaries, which takes care of every relevant aspect of education is a major achievement and an idea that is unique to us.
How have Inclusion and the blend of British and Nigerian Curricula impacted on the students of Meadow Hall?
Our hybrid curriculum is child-centred in the absolute sense of it. We take into cognizance and embrace the policy of “Every Child Matters.’’ This helps us individualise every child’s learning, as we determine the abilities of our pupils and if there are any barriers (needs) to their learning. If there are needs, we tackle them through differentiated learning and sometimes through our Special Education Needs (SEN) department, depending on the severity of the case. This supports our pupils to be secure and rounded employable adults both in Nigeria and globally.
Meadow Hall is fully committed to raising excellent, Godly and well-rounded children especially engaging in sports and other co-curricular activities. Can you tell us more about your Sports programme?
We are involved in sports because we believe in the holistic development of children and providing opportunities for their development not just through an academic curriculum, but through an active engagement in sports. It is important to give the children an opportunity to engage in sports at an early age. As with most things in life, starting early is the key.
Last year, we had the 2nd edition of the Meadow Hall Football camp with Daniel Amokachi, and we are looking forward to hosting another one in July this year. We also partnered with the International Tennis Academy for the development of our tennis programme. Finally, through one of our subsidiary companies, Spring Meadow Edutainment (SME), we are able to create avenues where the children can have fun while still developing their God-given talents.
What makes Meadow Hall unique for learning?
The Individualised Learning derived from the child-centredness of our curriculum. When our teachers teach, they teach children and not just subjects, thereby going beyond the delivery of the curriculum. Our teachers’ knowledge and proficiencies in the subjects they teach is also a strong factor. Our pupils are also esteemed in every area of their strength. We acknowledge the fact that not every child will excel in the academics, hence our celebration of multiple intelligences in our pupils.
This has become intrinsic to our curriculum. Also, our Assessment for Learning (AFL) practices focus on the concept of learning how to learn, whereby teachers as part of their assessment for learning practices promote self-learning. This is very important as the curriculum can become out-dated and some of the things the students learnt will also become out-dated, but the skill of knowing how to learn makes them into life long learners.
They keep learning new things. Also, the learning that takes place silently, through the hidden curriculum which focuses on developing moral virtues will make them grow up to be good people.It is said that if you educate the mind, without educating the character, one is merely raising intelligent criminals. People without morals have no restraint. For us at Meadow Hall, we are interested in developing the Whole child.
How does your school differ from its competitors?
Our unique selling point is the delicate blend of the British and Nigerian curricula with the focus on the spiritual development of the children. It is this intricate blend, all in the right proportion that makes us unique. Then our unequivocal focus on teacher training I believe makes us stand out and since we have a training school, we are never short of well trained teachers, which has helped us maintain our standards over the years. So the quality of our teachers is another differentiating point.
Also, our passion for both our internal customers (staff) and external customers (parents and children) is something we are proud of and makes us unique. Of course, I am not saying we are perfect but it’s a focus for us and we keep training all our staff, right from the security post to senior leadership in good customer care and in courses relevant to their jobs.
Students of Meadow Hall usually excel, especially in external examinations like IGCSE. What is the secret?
Our pupils are expertly and thoroughly guided on what subjects would take them through their destinations and beyond. This is because success is more likely if the level of interest is high in any endeavour.
Most importantly, our curriculum affords our pupils great opportunities to journey from primary school, builds up through the early phases of secondary school and eventually, climaxes at the end of secondary education into success. Our teachers consistently demonstrate secure knowledge and proficiency to use our resources to achieve success in our pupils. We also include a lot of mentoring sessions to prepare our children psychologically before any exams (just as good football coaches do for instance before a match), psychological preparation is also important, as important as physical preparation.
Meadow Hall was recently awarded COBIS Patron’s Accredited Member status after receiving an excellent rating from COBISCompliance and Accreditation team. How do you feel receiving such commendation?
I am elated and grateful to God. It was a lot of hard work and an extremely rigorous process of course but we ‘passed with flying colours’. The vision of Meadow Hall has always been hinged on excellence, right from the very beginning. Excellence drives standards and ensures continuous improvement. The COBIS accreditation process is simply an acknowledgement (external) of the quality of what we offer and one that we also needed to be sure we were doing the right things. The suggestions they also proffered are things that will certainly continue to place our institution over and above our competitors.It was very rigorous but our staff found it an exciting experience and to be honest, it is great to have moved from being just an associate member to becoming a fully accredited member of such a prestigious organisation as COBIS (Council of British International Schools).
Inspection team from the Lagos State Ministry of Education also visited Meadow Hall for a thorough assessment and inspection, which Meadow Hall was rated outstanding?
This was also a very exhilarating experience. It was a 12-man panel and they were in school for a whole week. It was a very professional team and we came out as outstanding. The focus of the team was our College and again it is very encouraging to have external assessors confirm our good practices. I must commend the Quality Assurance and Control department of the Lagos State Ministry of Education. They showed a lot of professionalism and were very thorough. Both parties (i.e the government registered body and our school) related with each other as knowledgeable professionals. They came, they saw and ‘’we conquered’’ to the glory of God.
There is no doubt we have ashort-fall of qualified teachers in Nigeria. What are you doing at Meadow Hall to raise teaching standards?
We continue to raise the standards, not just for teachers in Meadow Hall but we have created an opportunity for all teachers in Nigeria through one of our subsidiaries, Meadow Hall Consult (MHC), the consulting arm of the Group. The aim of the Consult is to provide creative and innovative support to educational institutions and stakeholders.
Through Meadow Hall Consult, we raise the standard of teaching by providing consultancy services and conducting top-notch professional trainings and workshops to enhance skill levels, build human capacity and increase productivity. We organise programmes such as the Finishing School for Teachers. We also run a Practical Academy and Leadership Academy for teachers. Needless to say, we have a very vibrant team of 21st century skilled facilitators and educational consultants to handle these courses.
Kindly take us through the key projects and developmental initiatives executed by Meadow Hall Foundation since inception.
Meadow Hall Foundation (MHF) is the non-profit arm of Meadow Hall Group. MHF partners with individuals, public and private organisations to implement sustainable initiatives, projects and programmes that support students, teachers, schools, and communities. Since 2009, Meadow Hall Foundation has been working to provide support to children through the following initiatives:
The Graduate Teacher Trainee Programme – a youth empowerment and pre-service teacher training programme which is entirely free but the selection process is extremely thorough. It is part of our nation building initiatives. We also offer Free Teacher Professional Development Sessions – a once-a-year opportunity for teachers from public and low cost private schools to learn about best educational practices- and School Adoption Programme—a school improvement programme aimed at providing support (infrastructure, adequate teacher training, teaching aids and educational technology) to public school students and teachers. Our pilot adopted school is Ilasan Primary School in Jakande, Lekki and developmental initiatives that have been carried out there include; building of a school fence, training of their teachers, distribution of resource packs, book donations, etc. We are about to build our first Resource centre at this site.
As you can see, our single and unequivocal focus is teachers and their development. We realize what others don’t seem to understand, that focusing on helping the children (buying laptops, building blocks etc) is of absolutely no effect if you do not carry the teachers along by way of training, properly remunerating and celebrating them.
What does the education convention entail and when will the next one hold?
Meadow Hall Foundation’s Education Convention provides an opportunity for teachers, school owners, parents, and other stakeholders to gain fresh perspectives on pertinent educational issues from their interactions with Nigerian teachers and educational experts. The convention should draw over 300 stakeholders and is set to hold on the 21st of April 2018 at Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The convention comprises of a keynote address, panel discussions and seminars. It is unique because of the diverse stakeholders that participate in discussions and the level of learning that occurs during our seminars. The day concludes with the selection of the winners of the Inspirational Educator Awards (INSEA) which is a merit-based award aimed at elevating the teaching profession and motivating school teachers and educational leaders to continue to strive for excellence in their profession.
The Award is split into two categories; The Inspirational Teacher of the Year Award and The Inspirational Head Teacher of the Year Award. A cash award of ₦1,000,000.00 will be given to a resourceful, caring and innovative teacher who has made an inspirational impact on his or her students and community. And a cash award of ₦2,000,000.00 will be given to a hard-working and sacrificial school leader. While the runners up in each category will receive ₦500,000.00 each. The award is free and open to Nigerian teachers who teach in public and private primary or secondary schools.
Our focus remains the Nigerian Child and we aim to advance their educational outcomes by enhancing teaching quality.
You established Meadow Hall Edutainment Centre at Lekki Phase 1 to inspire and nurture creativity in children; can you tell us more about this?
Meadow Hall Edutainment Centre is essentially tailored to meet the needs of working parents by offering a one-stop Centre for developing children’s talents in various areas such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Bookarama (reading club), Afternoon Adventure, Learning Hub, Music Academy, Swimming,Babies’ room (Crèche) and Language Parlour. In addition to these,we offer various programmes/events including fairs, camps, excursions and tours throughout the year. This is geared towards developing children’s multiple intelligences, expanding their learning experiences and widening their horizon.
We also have our transition exam classes at the same site strictly for children going into secondary schools who want to be thoroughly prepared for exams into various secondary schools in and outside the country.
One of the reasons the unemployment rate is high in Nigeria is the poor quality of school leavers, given the economic challenges, how can people acquire quality education and become solution providers?
Any curriculum that does not focus on developing 21st century skills such as creativity, communication, technological skills, problem solving and critical thinking skills is not qualitative and will not prepare the students for life in the 21st century world. If we continue to focus on qualifications and certifications at the expense of ‘real learning’, the situation will remain the same. So in order for students to leave school and become solution providers, they must combine creativity with skills and knowledge. Schools cannot continue to teach and be oblivious of societal expectations and needs. We must work hand in hand to ensure our children will have the solutions to the needs of the society, when they leave school.
Considering the high inflation rate and high interest rates on bank loans, what is Meadow Hall doing to ensure the standard and quality education is still maintained?
Prudence, prioritisation and a refusal to compromise on standards. We are also very innovative and so we often come up with other solutions in the education space that can help children fulfill their potential but which can also help generate additional income. This includes maximizing the use of our facilities. This has not only helped us in staying afloat but has also helped reduce the burden on our parents. In actual fact, we have not increasedschool fees for over 4years, as we have been considerate of the effect of the recession on our parents. Quality is also maintained through prioritizing training as our staff go through constant training and retraining. Meadow Hall is a learning organisation and our forte is training.
Based on your experience in education and if you consider the quality education you are delivering, how much do you think is the real value for education at Meadow Hall?
It can’t be quantified monetarily. What can you pay for the love teachers show the children? For the passion and commitment to their jobs? For the prayers and care even beyond the call of duty? The effort of the staff of Meadow Hall cannot be monetized and that is why I as the founder, parents and children are all very thankful for all they do.
Since the government cannot do it alone, in what areas can the government partner with private entrepreneurs to improve the quality of education in Nigeria?
Capacity development of teachers is an important area where there has to be more collaboration with the private sector. Teachers are often referred to as the fulcrum of the education system, hence the need to engage them in continuous professional development programmes.
Education is integral, therefore the government cannot be left to saddle this responsibility alone. The private sector is needed in the adoption of low-budget public schools in need of educational resources and infrastructure.
What recommendations can you suggest to the government to help improve the educational system in Nigeria and bridge the huge gap between the private and public schools?
The implementation of 21st century best practices across schools in Nigeria, taking a cue from countries with excellent and effective educational systems such as Singapore, Thailand, England, Finland etc. Also, the welfare of the teachers must be given priority; this will help in raising the status of the teaching profession and also reduce the migration of quality teachers into other professions with perceived higher status, whilst encouraging youths to pursue a career in teaching. Government should start promoting the profession. They must also cater for the welfare of these very important set of professionals: good remuneration, housing schemes, medical insurance and so on. If we can invest in teachers and the education sector, development will come to our nation. The solution to our problem is so straight forward, yet no one seems to be listening!
Going by your vision and major achievements, where do you see Meadow Hall in the next five years?
Growing stronger, ensuring that Meadow Hall Education and all our other subsidiaries continue to fulfill the objectives for which they were set-up. I see us doing more in the aspect of teacher training. That is my greatest passion. We will keep you updated as things unfold. Watch this space!
What is your outlook for education in 2018?
I must commend the Lagos State government for the CODE LAGOS initiative, I can see a government that is passionate about education and understands the significant role it plays in societal development. No doubt, the children in our schools today are digital natives and we are saddled with the responsibility to prepare them to be innovators and not just end-users. We are glad to be working with Lagos State on this project and other projects as well.
That said, education has moved beyond the four walls of a classroom where the teacher is seen as all-knowing – what has been referred to as ‘jug and mug’ theory of learning where the teacher is the full jug and the teacher’s job is to pour knowledge from the full jug to the emptymug.
My outlook would therefore be that children should be exposed to the concept of learning how to learn (LHTL) – where they own their learning journey through an awareness of the learning process that works for them as individuals. This is what will enable them become lifelong learners which should be the ultimate goal of education.
You are the GMD/CEO of Meadow Hall Group with six subsidiaries. How are you able to handle all of these with your role as a wife, mother, social entrepreneur and a PhD student?
It is said that the safest place to be is in the will of God, because I am in His will, He gives me ability that is beyond me. People ask me all the time- how do you cope? It’s by God’s grace.
Also, I prioritize; I don’t try to be ‘Superwoman’. When I notice that things seem to be slipping in a particular area, I quickly adjust. Also, I have a very good support system. I call these people my destiny helpers.
Special thanks also goes to my husband, who has been my support and greatest cheer leader. His help and understanding has gone a long way in helping me cope with all the things I juggle.
Any final words of advice to other schools who want to build and maintain a high standard of education and imbibe the 21st Century teaching standards in Nigeria
Running a school or being involved in education is not something you can do in half measures. You must be in it fully and totally. You can’t combine it with other things, as it is very demanding. Things change all the time in education and you must be on top of your game. School leaders (including owners) must remain learners and the school a learning organization. Ensure you have a strong and secure structure that holds your organization up, so it goes beyond the owner. When that happens and the school can run effortlessly without the owner being there all the time, success is at hand. For me, this frees me to focus on other areas, still in the education space.
However, a good monitoring system must also be instituted so standards don’t drop. Have your internal Quality Assurance and Control department. These are a few suggestions I can proffer.