Abolarin College, Oke-Ila, where education is entirely free

Abolarin College, Oke-Ila, Osun State is a school where students pay no school fees; enjoy free hostel, free food, free internet, free uniform, free laptop and 24 hours power supply, and all these expenses are paid by the town’s king. CYRIACUS NNAJI writes.

Many good things go unnoticed, unreported and unrewarded in Nigeria rather Nigerians take pleasure in things that add no value to life and creation. Abolarin College in Oke-Ila, Osun State is one such good thing, a philanthropic one man effort aimed at uplifting the children of the down trodden had remained uncelebrated by millions of Nigerians.

Erected in the hills of Oke Ila Orangun, Osun State, Nigeria, Oke-Ila is a town of between 8000 – 10,000 people, mostly agrarian. The school was established by Oba Adedokun Omoniyi Abolarin, the Oragun of Oke-Ila, Osun State.

What makes the school remarkable is that one major criterion for getting admitted is being poor. If your parents are rich, you cannot get admission. Unlike other schools, Abolarin College wants poor kids who are very brilliant. If you are poor but brilliant, the king will admit you.

The students enjoy free education in all its ramifications, they pay no school fees; enjoy free hostel, free food, free internet, free uniform, free laptop for every child, and 24 hours power supply; and all these expenses are paid by the town’s king. But most surprising and epitome of emulation is that the king teaches there too.

The king believes poor brilliant kids should also be given an equal opportunity to become something in life- so that the future does not belong only to those born with silver spoons in their mouth. The king himself a law degree and masters holder sees education as a source of freedom and liberation from the shackles of poverty and enslavement.

From report gathered, the king has only one wife, and this goes to show that the king is not using the money of the kingdom to accumulate wives or properties; instead he is investing it in the education of future leaders while he aims to reduce the burden of illiteracy in the society.

For him, it doesn’t matter the religion, it is not about nepotism, neither is it restricted to Yoruba children nor only children from Oke Ila; it is about any less privileged child anywhere who is willing to be educated. That is why the only criteria for admission is poverty and brilliance.

It is good to recall that many of those kids previously hawked pepper, sachet water, fruits etc. Some came from farms where all they did was work under the hot sun weeding and planting. Many are orphans, hawkers, child labourers, delinquents, children of petty traders, but now they have hope, and not just hope, a future.

It is incontrovertible that some Ezes, Obas and Emirs of this earth may have more money than this king, but in years to come, King Abolarin’s impact will take him to the echelons of greatness.

King Abolarin is planting seeds that will blossom in the future. In the nearest years, that town will be filled with successful and accomplished people.

Ninety-three (93) students in number and growing, those who Nigerian State has failed, abandoned and forgotten are gradually becoming the cornerstone. Away from the motor parks and streets where they previously hawked pepper, sachet water, fruits etc. and from the farms where the young minds toiled under the hot sun weeding, planting and making mounds. Orphans, hawkers, child labourers, delinquents, sons of farmers, petty traders, and the homeless sit side by side in averagely equipped classrooms of Abolarin College in their neat uniforms and clean environment listening, and learning.

Oba Adedokun Abolarin is the enigmatic change agent driving this much needed social intervention. A highly respected academic, Oba Abolarin holds three degrees from a reputable Nigerian tertiary institution – a law degree, a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in International Relations, all from Obafemi Awolowo University.

Prior to his installation as the Orangun Oke–Ila in 2006, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, was a Professional Lawyer licensed to practice law in the Supreme Court of Nigeria, a principal partner of Dokun Abolarin & Co; a law firm based in Abuja. He once worked at Tell Publications, Pacific Holdings, Peachtree Communications Ltd, Sportsmark International among other international firms as Executive secretary.

The focus of Abolarin College (full boarding) is offering free and qualitative education to poor and indigent students.

The students before joining the school were in dire need of real care and guidance. Most of these kids have been abandoned by the system and, in most cases, by their families, making the school the only place of hope to escape the turmoil and hardship they have had to endure.

The Kabiyesi is more than the owner of the school to them. Apart from teaching the students Government and History, he offers, mentorship, counselling, leadership, fatherhood and more than anything else, friendship. A few minutes with the students and one cannot help but see in them the Omoluabi values that is gradually being entrenched into their blood.

The school places emphasis on the values of hard work, goal setting, self-reliance, honesty, team work, self-confidence, physical and spiritual growth, and academic excellence.

An oasis in the desert, Abolarin College is specifically tailored to offer indigent students quality education and offers a template on how education can be used as a ticket out of poverty.

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