We hear stories almost every day that prove to us that education is extremely important. All About SchoolsNG had the opportunity to sit with Mr. Shugba, a reputable businessman in his field. He shared with us his experience, aspirations and regrets- on how he knows he would have had a better life if only he got formal education. This interview was transcribed from Yoruba to English Language. We hope you enjoy it.
Let's meet you.
I am Awosugba Opebiyi. I was born and brought up in Lagos, Somolu to be precise. I had most of my education there, starting from my primary school to my secondary school. I attended ULA Primary School and CMS Grammar School. I did not sit for the secondary school leaving exam and so I do not have the certificate.
Not all parents could afford that luxury, because it was a luxury then. I wasn’t opportuned to take part in the WAEC exercise at that time. I had to take up a vocation after my SS3. I took up welding as a profession. It wasn’t easy for me because I had eye problem and I was a very stubborn child. Actually, my father wanted us to further our education; it was just difficult for him at that time. After the welding apprenticeship, I went to learn the job of a coil rewinder. I learnt it for 4 years, after which I started my own coil rewinder business. I went into electricity afterwards. I learnt the vocational skill of an electrician. The electricity job was what our father was into, so I already had an edge in that aspect, I just needed to broaden my knowledge on it.
When did you learn to be an electrician?
I really didn’t spend time in learning the electrical engineering job- I consider what I'm doing now electrical engineering). I spent just one year training because I was already married by then and I had other responsibilities.
Can you say there is a huge difference between now and then as regards the learning of vocational skills?
Well, I would say there is a difference. The tools we used then were different. Nigeria is way more exposed than it was back then so now; there are new things to be learnt every day. However, I am grateful to God that he has made it possible for me to get to where I am.
If it were possible for you then to have furthered your education, what would you have studied?
I would have studied engineering.
What's your take on education for your children?
Yes! education is very paramount. I find it very painful that I couldn’t go to school, but I made sure that my children all go to school. They go to private schools and not public schools. I am grateful to God for bestowing His Grace upon me.
What if one of your children is more interested in a vocation than formal education, like you were?
Hmmm! During our time, our fathers didn’t really care. They didn’t pay attention to some things which were necessary. Nowadays, parents tell their children to work on their assignment once they are back from school and make sure they do it; but nobody had time for such in our days. Education is very important. I could allow my children to learn vocational skills but not as a source of livelihood. I will allow that so they could have another kind of knowledge apart from schooling. Due to the situation of the country, it would not be a bad idea for them to learn a vocational skill. If at the long run they don’t get a job early enough, they could focus on their vocational acquired skills. This would enable them be bosses of their own too.
I am a boss of my own, I have employees. I am able to correct my employees when they are wrong and teach them due to the experience I have but I know that I would certainly have known way better than I do now if I was literate and well learned. As I said earlier, I am grateful to God I got to learn this vocation and I could make ends meet through this job.
Shugba is an electrician, serving schools and corporate organizations in Lagos.