Frontliners Schools is a household name in the Akowonjo and Alagbado areas of Lagos where its centres are situated. Founded 19 years ago, the Frontliners Schools has churned out pupils years after years in the last 18 academic sessions. It has also recorded some level of success in different areas.
Mrs Esther Olusola Aliu is the founder and Director of Studies at Frontliners Schools. She was a teacher, education programme promoter and administrator who has worked at both the government circle and private organizations before setting up her own school in 2002. She has successfully run the school for 19 years, has expanded and still plans to expand across Lagos. She bagged a teacher’s grade II certificate at the Government Teacher’s College in Idah, Kogi State (formerly Benue state) in 1981 and then proceeded to Kwara State College of education where she had her NCE in 1986. In 1992, she became a graduate with B.Ed. from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria while she had her M.Ed. at Lagos State University in 2004.
Frontliners is not just any other mushroom school in Lagos, it is a government-approved school with crèche, pre-school, kindergarten, nursery and primary services. The facilities at both branches in the Akowonjo and Alagbado areas of Lagos are not just topnotch; they are beyond imagination for a primary school. They have a well-equipped laboratory for elementary and basic sciences; the ambiance is conducive for learning and assimilation as well as friendly and professional educators who relate with pupils as friends and companions rather than teachers.
City People’s DAMILARE SALAMI 08155134152, Videographer, Olaoluwa Oguntoyinbo and Timothy Fowomola few weeks ago week paid a visit to the Alagbado branch of Frontliners Schools where they met with the CEO cum Director of Studies, Mrs Esther Olusola Aliu and they had an exclusive interview with her. Below are some of the excerpts from the interview, enjoy.
How did Frontliners Schools start 19 years ago?
Frontliners Schools started in September 2002, and to the glory of God, we are here today because of his faithfulness. We started from Alakuko Ajas, it was a private apartment and by and by, we got this place and got Akowonjo and God has been doing wonders in our lives. He alone has been doing it because sometimes I sit back to wonder how we got to where we are, all I can say is that God has been faithful.
Frontliners Schools is 19 and you have been doing so well. What is the selling point of this citadel of learning?
Thank you. We have so many activities put together that sell us. For instance, my children are very good at mathematics and sciences and everyone knows that. We also do well in handwriting; if you see my pupils write, you will think that they are Britons because over time, we have engaged the use of lesson handwriting. Then, the use of diction, we are very vast in that too. I am also very sociable with my parents and then I empathize with them. If I see any of them with any challenges, I sit down with them to work out a payment plan that is favourable for both parties. We have been doing that for a long time and its working for them. For parents who have three or more children, I give them half-tuition on the third child and it’s a lot of money. I also give them discounts on transportation, which means they also pay half on the third child. Parents have come to realize that there is no other school in this area that does that. The highest they give to them is 15 percent discount, none has ever given them 50 percent but I give them that on the third child.
We had a conversation sometimes ago and you told us about some projects that you intend to embark on and then COVID came in all of a sudden. How did you survive the COVID-19 pandemic?
The COVID-19 period was a huge challenge for me. There was no income and we had to keep the teachers going. I didn’t want to lay off my teachers because they also have their own families, I ran helter-skelter, from pillar to post to source funds to at least make them comfortable. And then, some of the projects that we were working on had to stop; we had to put them on hold so that we could manage the little resources we had well. It was also a]the period we had to focus so much on our online coaching, I had to quickly put heads together with my staff and source an IT personnel to help us with that. Initially, we started free for our students but at some points when I discovered that schools around were charging fees, I decided to charge just a token not up to what others were charging anyway, just to keep the internet facility going. We survived to the glory of God.
In this post-COVID era, what are we expecting from Frontliners Schools?
Yeah, we have embarked on the projects we have put a halt to. At Akowonjo yesterday, the hall we were building hosted our graduation ceremony. Although it’s still under construction but we hope to complete it before the end of this year. Then, we know that this online teaching has come to stay, it has come with COVID and I know it’s one of the positive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and we don’t want to do away with it. We communicate with parents online, we have also continued with Zoom meetings and my children still work online. It’s ok for us, we pray for better things to come and we hope that more children would join us and good parents that will continue to support our business.
Frontliners at 19, how do you feel?
I feel great, we are holding our 18th graduation ceremony today and it has all been God all the way. It’s not been very rosy especially getting this our present location, it was a herculean task. We just had to move from our former place and you know that change comes with a lot of challenges. Sourcing a place like this was not easy and getting funds was really difficult. I will be forever grateful to God for First City Monument Bank FCMB for their supports, they have stood solidly behind me and I can never do away with them. They gave us funds to secure this place and when we got here, it was so messy and flooded. We had to demolish the building and erect another one. We had issues with a flood on two occasions and swept away everything we had including our laboratory and library; all our gadgets were swept away and we had to start all over again. But to the glory of God, we are stable now. I’m so thankful to God almighty.
What more should we be expecting from Frontliners Schools in the years to come?
By the grace of God, in few years to come, we will have our secondary school, in fact, in no distant time we want to start and from there we also want to start our university, God willingly by the grace of God. I’ve been seeing some of our former students doing very well in high places, as a matter of fact; some of them even have children in my school especially in Akowonjo. So it’s a source of joy for me seeing these children doing very well in all spheres of life. I am so grateful to God for his help so far.