I thought I would die at 70 — 85-yr-old teacher
Eighty-five-year-old Ayoola Ladipo shares the story of his teaching years with GBENGA ADENIJI
Tell us briefly about yourself.
I am Ayoola Ladipo. I was born on May 4, 1930 at Joga Orile in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State. My parents were Mr. Gabriel Ladipo and Mrs. Comfort Ladipo.
My father was a farmer and my mother a trader. My father had three wives with my mother being the first. I am the second child of my mother’s six children.
How did you know the date of your birth since most people then could not read and write?
My father wrote down the dates all his children were born. He also took adult education hence he knew how to read and write.
I attended the All Saint’s School, Araromi, Orita in Ado-Odo Ota, Ogun State for my primary education. When I completed my education in the school in 1945, I was engaged by the authorities of the school in 1947 to teach the pupils for sometime because I was unable to proceed to secondary school immediately. It was the only school in the area at that time. Besides, the management of the school felt I was brilliant enough to teach. I was paid £1 monthly.
What did you use your salary for?
I was living with my parents then. Thus, there was no way I could spend it alone. I used the money to cater for some of my needs and buy things needed in the house. I later proceeded to Ibadan Boys High School, Oke-Bola, Oyo State for my secondary education. I spent only three years there before I left because of illness. I had a very terrible stomach ache. I returned to the school after two months but I was not allowed to continue my education there. The authorities thought when I left without returning for about two months, I had continued my education in another school.
That was how I could not complete my secondary school education. In 1951, I moved to Christ Church School, Ilaro, Ogun State to teach. In 1952, I was engaged by the management of Surulere Baptist School in Lagos as a teacher. I taught general subjects. I was there when I got admitted to the Archdeaconry Teacher’s Training College, Abeokuta, Ogun State in 1953. The school is now known as St.
How much was your salary when you came to Lagos to teach?
I cannot remember the exact amount I was paid now but it was something I could manage.
Were you married before you went for further studies?
No, I was not married.
Were you sending money to your parents?
Yes, I gave them my first salary. They had to bless the money for me. I was also sending money to them. When I left the Teacher’s Training College, I was posted to a school in Ikereku Idan in Abeokuta. I spent only a year in the school before I left because it was far from where I lived. I rode a bicycle and it was hard for me getting to the school every day because of the distance. The development was affecting my health. I then requested to be transferred to Christ’s Church School, Lagos. I was there from 1956 to 1958. In 1959, I was admitted to St. Luke’s College, Ibadan. We wrote an examination and those of us who passed were admitted into the school to study for Grade II. I finished the course in 1959. After the completion of the course, I was posted to the United Secondary Modern School, Ilaro where I taught social studies and religious knowledge for three years. I later returned to Lagos to teach at Yaba Model School. I was there from 1965 to 1972. I rose from a class teacher to become the headmaster of the school. I went for a seminar for three months when I was teaching in the school.
When did you leave the school?
I was transferred to Christ’s Church School, Lagos as assistant headmaster and later became the headmaster. I spent about four years in the school. When I was there, I also attended a nine-month course at the University of Ibadan. When I returned, I was posted to Archbishop Aggey Memorial Secondary School, Lagos. I taught social studies and religious studies in the school. I left the school in 1983. Some of us who went for the course at UI were posted to another school to teach primary pupils because the course we went for bordered on their curriculum.
Where did you work before your retirement?
I worked at Ojuwoye Public Primary School, Mushin, Lagos. I retired from teaching in 1990. Altogether, I taught for 35 years and nine months.
What are your teaching experiences?
Teaching is a good and interesting profession but the government is not doing enough for teachers.
What can you say about Nigeria’s independence?
The experience of the independence was great. We watched the activities of the independence on television because in October 1959, the then premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, had established the Western Nigerian Television in Ibadan. It was the first television station in Africa.
When did you get married?
I eventually married later but in 1957, a lady gave birth to a child for me. I did not marry her because of religious differences. I met my wife at Anglican Secondary School, Ilaro. She was a pupil in the school. I always went to the school to teach and that was where I met her. She bore three children before she died.
Did you remarry?
Yes, I remarried. The woman I married after the death of my first wife is the one with me now.
Can you compare teaching in your time and now?
There is no comparison. Nowadays, many teachers are not dedicated. During my time, there was a responsibility to cater for pupils in our care. Now, pupils can go home and report to their parents if they are punished by any teacher and their parents will come with them to school the following day to warn the teacher. We did not experience a thing like that during my time as a teacher. Whenever I taught a class, I would ask them if they understood and later test them with class work.
How do you feel at 85?
I feel good. I receive the best of treatment and my children and wife take good care of me.
Where are your children?
Some of them are in Lagos while others are in Abuja and Port Harcourt. I have six children; three male and three female. I have an accountant, environmentalist and educationists among others.
Were you the one who encouraged some of them to take interest in education?
No, I did not. I allowed each of them to make a career choice and only gave my support. One of my daughters is a retired vice-principal.
Do you do exercises?
I used to be a sportsman. I played football and was a team captain. I also did long jump and was an athlete.
What is your favourite food?
I like pounded yam.
What is your favourite drink?
When I was a young man, I took beer but now I take water and wine.
What was your experience of the civil war?
It was terrible even though it did not take place in the South-West. We were always afraid when we went to bed. I lost some of my friends who joined the army at that time to the war.
Do you still see some of your childhood friends?
Many of them are no more but I still see a few of them. There is one Samuel Akinsanya who is 84. We attended Ibadan Boys High School together. Another one is Peter Odeyemi.
What is your advice to teachers?
They must be dedicated to their duties. They should strive to teach what they know to make others educated too.
Did you know you would be this old?
There was no time I ever thought I would be live up to become 80 not to talk of 85. I thought at most, I would live up to 70 years. I thank God that I am alive today but His grace has kept me this far. I only enjoy the mercies of God.
Do you have any regrets?
Yes. I would have loved to complete my secondary education. I regretted losing two of my brothers. Also, I am sad that I lost my first wife unexpectedly. In all, I still give God all the glory.
Culled from Punch