Rufus Olowojaye, an undergraduate of Mechanical Engineering at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, is an astute tutor. He has successfully established an after-lecture tutorial organisation where he provides invaluable services that improve academic performances of engineering students. Excerpts
Who motivated you to commence an after-lecture tutorial programme?
I was motivated by my mentor, Mr Odeyemi Kazeem Abilodun. He’s the Director of Odecazdeo Campus-Link Tutorials, Akoka, Lagos. I met him at Deluxe Pacesetter Tutorials College, Ajuwon, Ogun state while I was preparing to take the JAMB UTME of 2013. I needed to attend the UTME coaching classes of the Tutorials to prepare for my exams then, which I joined on 5th of October, 2012. He happened to be our Science tutor, and did very amazing teaching and demonstrations with Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. I was particularly wowed with the way he literally taught all classes and topics off hand (without a single note), and also formed above-standard questions off hand. I literally became a “disciple” of his since then, even after my UTME and POST-UTME. He also taught me how to teach, and still do whenever I go to spend my short breaks with him in his Akoka home. I look forward to becoming a maestro in knowledge impartation like him.
Internet has become an essential tool in learning, how has Max Engineering Tutorial benefited from the internet?
We run all our classes offline for now. However, we have benefitted immensely from the internet through the publicity (advertisement) opportunity it offers. I remember having to reach all class representatives of the students that would be offering the courses for which we run tutorials on WhatsApp messenger long before their resumption, to inform them of our services – how and why we offer them, the cost and all that they needed to know about us. We still do this every semester. We recently opened other social media accounts, particularly Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (all @MaxOrganization), and employed a Media Secretary for the same purpose – to put the Max brand out there as we plan to reach other campuses in the near future.
What have been your challenges and best moment so far?
Wow! The major and, perhaps, only challenge has been the drop in attendance of students after their mid-semester examinations – which usually come up few weeks to the end of every semester. We are particularly always troubled by this as it hinders us from covering the outline for the courses before the final semester examinations without having to revise the later topics severally to help the students who became irregular after their mid-semester tests.
To solve this, we organize final examination revision classes (a crash course) to help students get all essential details they should get before their examinations. Our best moment has been when we recorded 100% pass rate, with distinctions, in a course considered to be the “craziest” of those we offer – MTH 201 (Mathematical Methods I), in our very first semester of operation. I mean that was an awesome motivation to keep up the good work, for me and my members of staff.
How do students enroll for your tutorial programmes?
At Max Engineering Tutorials, students enroll for their course(s) of choice every semester. For the class tutorials, they are required to pay certain amounts (between #3,000 and #4,000, depending on the course units) for the entire semester. We also run private classes, which start and end on request of students. They are required to pay for this on an hourly basis (usually #500.00 per hour of engagement, negotiable).
Do you run Max Organization alone or with other tutors?
No. I only teach some of the courses (one or two, sometimes), and also oversee its general running. We currently have six other tutors, and three contract-based tutors (for private class requests), two class coordinators, two publicity secretaries and a media secretary as members of staff for the next session, as we extend our reach to 100-level students. We have been running general classes for only 200-level students since we began operations in 2016.
As an establishment devoted to ensuring academic excellence at every level of endeavour, what measures are you taking to improve the academic performances of your students?
We ensure that our students are given the best tutors possible for each course by ensuring that each tutor is a current student or recent graduate of the departments “hosting” the courses, or, at least a department closely connected to it. This is particularly essential as the school lecturers usually appreciate students learning their style of problem solutions more – which we believe the students in their department are better exposed to. More importantly, we ensure that every student knows the how, why and when of all methods of solution they have to know, thereby giving them a solid basis for further personal passionate study. We believe the best students are made via personal studies inspired by exciting foundational exposures, coupled with thorough evaluation, and invaluable motivation for excellence.
If you’re given the opportunity to be the Minister of Education in Nigeria, what action will you take first?
My first action will be to ensure qualified, tested and trusted hands are at the helm of affairs in all educational agencies in the country. I believe we will make very significant improvement if appointments into government offices would be primarily on the basis of capability – tested and trusted administrative competence!
As an undergraduate student, how do you manage studies and your business?
Oooh! Admittedly, running Max Organization does affect my personal study time. I had to minimize the time and effort I personally have to put in by ensuring that all persons to be engaged as a member of staff undergoes a thorough assessment, which I personally take them through, so I can be rest assured that our students are in the best hands when I’m not physically present. This is why we have to engage so much members of staff – to enable everyone enough time for their personal studies while they contribute their quota to imparting others. I’m particularly excited that I have been developing outside-classroom capacities, imparting other students to be their best academic- and career-wise, offering others an opportunity to engage their minds productively right from campus, while maintaining solid academic records!
Do you agree that schooling is necessary for one to be successful in life?
Yes, schooling is necessary for one to be successful in life. I believe schooling goes beyond the conventional classroom lectures to receiving any organized set of instructions that have the capacity to help solve our problems either collectively or individually. I have always encouraged students to go beyond just reading and passing examinations, to avoid reading TO pass examinations, and embrace deliberate study to know how the various classroom theories can help solve our everyday problems.
We must all get to that point where we study and study more to develop skills that can help solve our problems as a society. This is why I am particularly interested in engaging Engineering/Technology and Science students. I believe we all need to come together and move the Engineering education system in particular beyond books, to actual practice to solve our problems ourselves.