Abuja is dubbed as the Capital of Africa due to the serenity, glam and exquisiteness of the city. But amidst this beauty, it also harbors small and obscure satellite town settlements. One among many is Kpaduma Village located in the outskirt of Asokoro district. The town with a rocky topography is densely populated with mostly low-income earners who cannot afford the demands of the City center which also lacks basic amenities such as schools which is the bedrock of the developmental growth of every society. It is on this premise that the Nigeria Monthly magazine crew took time-out to share the exceptional and compelling story of a young proprietress who operates a private school within the locality at an affordable tuition fees for all.
A graduate of Applied Chemistry from Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, Miss Ekoi believes in setting the pace, and leading that way, motivated her to establish Greater Kpaduma Community School in 2015.
Nigerian Monthly: Can you please feed us in about yourself?
Blessing Ekoi: Like I mentioned earlier, My name is Blessing Stephen Ekoi from Cross River State, born into a family of eight children, am the 6th child and I schooled at Usman Dan Fodio University Sokoto, where i studied Applied Chemistry, and amazingly am the first graduate in my family. I did my compulsory National Youth Service Corp in Nassarawa State in 2011 and am currently running a school which is a Nursery, Primary and Junior Secondary called Greater Kpaduma Community School.
Nigeria Monthly: Why are you not doing what people in your age group would normally do?
Blessing Ekoi: I don’t want to follow routine and I want to stand as woman to let people know that a woman don’t need to be dependent on a Man or sleep around to achieve ones goal. Coming from a background were I have seen a lot of ills, I want to show other young ones the way, not only the way but to l ead the way.
Nigeria Monthly: Tell us more about your school?
Blessing Ekoi: The name of my school is Greater Kpaduma Community School and I started it in September, 2015 with about 80 pupils which has grown to 328.1 was managing a school before and when I started my own, it was easier to enroll pupils. I have all classes from the first term we have four classrooms and I use plywood’s to create more classes from the existing ones. Although it is a rented space which made payment of rent a bit challenging but we are pulling through. I charged as low as N6,000 – N7, 000 as school fees and we also embark on scholarship drive to cater for the kids who cannot afford the fee and presently we have 30 pupils on whom some are sponsored by private individuals.
Nigeria Monthly: How many grandaunts have you produced?
Blessing Ekoi: We graduated four sets of students so far about 90 pupils precisely and we just concluded our fourth academic session and hoping to begin the 5th session by September.
Nigeria Monthly: what is the status of your school?
Blessing Ekoi: It is a privately owned school.
Nigeria Monthly: What is the source of funding?
Blessing Ekoi: It personal and I sponsor it myself and basically, the startup capital was raised from the private home lessons i run and subsequently from the meager school fees of the pupils which I use to take cares of the salary of the teachers and non-teaching staff. For now, am not looking at making profit but to impact knowledge to the pupils.
Nigeria Monthly: What is your motivation?
Blessing Ekoi: As I told you earlier, am from Cross River State, I have seen a lot of things and particularly in my community you see children young as 11-14 years are getting pregnant in primary school and early secondary secondary belonging to cult group. I have a blood sister who is also a victim of early pregnancy and dropped out of school. So, I feel they were not well equipped at an early stage and well educated on the danger of these things. I believe owning a school is my own way of equipping this young generation at an early stage for a better society tomorrow and teach them what it takes to defend themselves, and this why I go house to bring children who can’t afford be in school to school even thought they can’t afford the fee.
Nigeria Monthly: What’s the challenge?
Blessing Ekoi: The major challenge is the funding which remains a major problem. At the moment, we need more desks, more classrooms and learning materials. Some time I construct benches and use plastic chair behind for the pupils to use and write. It all boiled down to funding and I have been managing with the low fees I charge, and from there I pay my staff and buy learning materials. As I said earlier, we are not looking at making interest or profit.
Nigeria Monthly: How do you hope to bring Technology into what you doing now?
Blessing Ekoi: I plan on have a having a computer room very well equipped for practical lessons.
Nigeria Monthly: Any expansion plan?
Blessing Ekoi: We are looking at moving to our permanent site and to get more classrooms and currently we are using my office space as classroom, we need a playground and all this depend on funds.
Nigeria Monthly: What is your Hobby?
Blessing Ekoi:l love to read and to keep myself updated, singing and listening to gospel classical music and exercising.