By Sage Hasson
Tayo Olarewaju sits behind a desk in her office running the affairs of her business with dexterity common among great minds. You can actually see and feel her mind work like a clock ticking and directing time and its affairs. And when it hits a milestone you can hear the gong sound across the city.
It’s high noon. The sun is harsh overhead blaring heat like music waves erupting from the speakers of a street deejay. But there’s no music here right now, except perhaps the classical music playing in the class of young wards in Delightsome Land School, her upscale boutique education establishment in the heart of Victoria Island Lagos.
“You know that classical music is good for the brain of young ones? Amazing how the notes and tunes from a piano have a connection with mathematics and numbers wouldn’t you say?”
But it’s hard for the regular Nigerian to connect something as mundane and ancient as the keys of a musical instrument to the future of the minds of their children.
Tayo Olarewaju- and she’s quick to stress that her surname is Olarewaju and not Olanrewaju as people are quick to correct her, as if she doesn’t know how to spell her surname.
“The name is Olarewaju,” she reiterates.
As seriously as she does come off, being a custodian of the future of education, Mrs Olarewaju has a playful twinkle in her eye. She brings to mind the old maxim all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – in this case replace Jack and boy with Jill and girl.
She talks education with a passion that reveals a person who has a mission.
“Education in Nigeria needs a revamp. As smart and intelligent as we are celebrated to be the world over, the system in Nigeria has been in a rut. There are individual efforts by people to be the best they can be but there is a systemic dimension to ensuring that not just a few individuals shine but the whole system can be reflective of what we see in the one lone star.”
Tayo runs Delightsome Land School on Muri Okunola Street in Victoria Island, a classy boutique pre-primary and primary school for the discerning parent that wants quality and tailored education for their children.
“Quality education does not have to be expensive.”
But it’s not cheap either I quip in silently.
She looks at me in askance like she heard my thought.
Her sensitivity shines through. And while we chat staff walk in with other businesses of the day and she politely excuses herself to attend to them.
The staff is courteous. From the moment you walk in you begin to feel welcome as you are greeted warmly without pretense. But it’s when the kids are brought it that you see the magic of the staff as they whisk kids off the ground they walk on or from the arms of parents with so much love and flourish. It’s clear it makes it easier for the parents to drop off the kids without the added drama of bawling kids who want to go with their parents.
A child is whisked and I can see his head swivel from the classroom to the retreating figure of his mother but he sheds no tear nor does he show signs of dismay. Somehow he knows he’s going to have a good time in school.
The attitude of the school is a reflection of Tayo Olarewaju; she has successfully embedded the spirit of excellence she embodies in the staff. Everyone is in form. Everyone works like they are in NASA. Here the business of curating future people is as serious as any.
My time with her comes to an end. There’s another appointment. Her time is measured yet gracious and generous, but not superfluous.
She smiles now. Not like she was not smiling. But this time, you can see her differently. She rises and walks you to the door. You feel important. And you wonder with people like this in Nigeria what now is wrong with the education system?