6 July 2016 1 Comment

Private Schools and the need for strong communication unit: Cayley College Case study

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

Cayle College crisis communicationWe live in a dynamic time. Only ignorant people overlook the need for strong communication unit in their establishments. The level of ignorance is so high in this space. Check which department is least funded if it is established at all. Check which department’s staff are laid off as soon as there is economic downturn. One with a sad face had seen  many business owners do not see any ‘meaningful’ need for a communication unit. But when crisis hits, not many staff in the other departments as well as top level management know what to do.

Schools(Private) in most countries are classified as Non-profit and long before now, they are protected from taxes. Things are changing as most schools declare huge “profits’ especially in our clime where private schools are majorly family (one-man) business. The level of slavery and various abuses going on in this sector is alarming. Thank be to no serious legal enforcement if there is an established legal process and documentation in the first instance.

The essence of this piece is not  on the various abuses and excesses but a need for strong communication unit in most of the frontline heavy fee paying schools In Nigeria.
The earlier the owners of these schools see a need for this the better for their future. Truth be told School is now a business in Nigeria. The challenge we have seen is that many Proprietors/Proprietress/Boards are only good in education curriculum building. Some are worst and establishing school is the last hope.

There is a need to develop great business angle if they must thrive. If schools are not business, can one check quarterly fees in some of these primary and post basic schools? The fee parents pay are huge enough to pay for an undergraduate degree course overseas. One has continued to wonder why has many of these schools not seen a need to hire a communication specialist or consultant for the raining days.

For those who follow trends online, it is no longer news that a parent(Mother) of one of the students in Cayley College Lagos had taken the advantage of the social media to publicly alleged the school of several forms of human right abuses: illegal expulsion of her ward, unruly behaviour of the school management (Director of studies and the Executive Director) among others. As a development enthusiast and child right activist, this is aside from being a communication professional one has followed with keen interest and had asked for justice because the woman’s case sounds credible. That position has not changed as one waits to see the outcome of the imbroglio. Anyway many other concerned parents, friends, lawyers had asked for proper investigation as well.

For about four days ago,  Cayle school school management was silent and nothing was heard from their side. That was an error as the management waited for so long in this age of hyper communication tools. The conclusion is that they seem to lack clue with regards to  what to do as the school may be one of the schools who overlooked importance of communication unit. That is our opinion though. But one must say kudos to the school management communication effort which came out today through their  Facebook page (?).

This has given observers a different perspective of the story. In no way are we saying here they are saying the whole truth. The response like any other including the parent’s side is also open to fabrication and well crafted polished story. But the fact here is in the ability of the school to come out strongly with their own side of the story.

Crisis communication requires a craft and only the initiates can do that. Schools need to prepare for uncertainties in communication and attitude of today’s public. There is no guarantee any institution will be spared. It is just a question of time.

What are the lessons here for other frontline schools and non for profit organizations?

1 communication is very important: those who overlook communication function today will live to regret this. One was concerned initially when the ‘school or its proxy’ according to the parent, resulted to threat and phone calls that added more damage instead of addressing issues.

2. Master the use of various communication platforms
: Till date many organizations have not seen the need to have a website, blog, twitter and Facebook account. They still rely on traditional media platforms to pass their message. If they ever used any. Crisis comes from different dimensions, platforms. Combating a crisis must begin from the source. Using Newspaper advert in this situation might have worsen the situation. So school needs communication people who are skilled in the use of varied media platforms.

3. Silence may not be golden in certain situation: when news break online, especially on Facebook with over one billion people, never allowed situation to drag on for days before appropriate steps are taken. Your reputation, image, credibility among others are at stake.

4. Never revert to threat or illegal methods in handling issues: whether it was true or not, the parent in question had accused the school or its proxy of threat to live among others. One was expecting a clear distance line from such behaviour in the school’s response but there was none. Is this a clear acceptance of such offence or error of omission?

In all, this should serve as an eye opener to school management, owners who forget that parents are their major customers and they exist because those parents trust them enough to send their wards to their schools. Also it is a clarion call to put their house in order. More also this is  a clear signal to the possibility  that light may soon shine on various abuses of many private schools here in Nigeria. For now, from the communication angle, which is the primary purpose of this platform, kudos to Cayley College Lagos until event fully unfolds.

One Response to “Private Schools and the need for strong communication unit: Cayley College Case study”

  1. Tolu Fasakin 6 July 2016 at 11:43 pm #

    The story of the management of Cayley College is entirely fasle. I will urge you to stay tuned to know the full story on the other side, I mean from the Mrs Mayokun Akpoterabor.

    I got the response of Carley College today firsthand, it might shock you to know that that wasn’t their first response. They had to witdraw the one they posted on Facebook yesterday. The #IStandWithMedad Team will not take these lies lying low.

    I can promise you that this will be pursued to a logical conclusion and the general public will not be kept in the dark.

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