Dr. Kachi Esogbuna Ozumba was born in 1942 and grew up in Lagos and Oba. He studied English at the University of Ibadan. After a stint as a teacher at various schools, including Mayflower School Ikenne where he worked under its founder, the renowned social critic and educationist Dr. Tai Solarin (1922-1994); Kachi returned to Ibadan and earned a PhD in Educational Administration in 1974. He lectured briefly at the University of Ibadan before pursuing a career at the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) where he rose to the rank of Senior Deputy Registrar and Head of the Test Development and Research Office (TEDRO). This placed him in a good position to witness the mass student ‘failures’, the impact of such ‘failures’ on students and society, and the effects of the one-sidedly bookish and certificate-oriented education—which he called ‘education for certificates’—prevalent in the country.
He began to search for a more holistic and relevant philosophy of education, and found this in our rich African tradition and in the ideas of the Danish educational reformer, Bishop N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872), whose education-for-life philosophy had given rise to the Danish folk high school and efterskole movements, and had influenced and given rise to many other similar educational movements across the world. He then quit his job at WAEC to pioneer this idea in Nigeria, adapting the said philosophy to the peculiarities of the Nigerian terrain and founding the Grundtvig Institute at Oba in 1984 to cater for the casualties from the one-sidedly bookish education system. He later gained much support for his work, especially from the Association of Danish Folk High Schools (FFD), and also from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the Danish Association for International Cooperation (MS), among others.
In 1998, he founded the Grundtvig International Secondary School Oba to extend his education-for-life work to younger students, in order to ‘catch them young’, as he put it. This development also followed from requests from parents that their younger children be afforded the benefit of such a unique education.
Despite being physically challenged in the later part of his life, Dr. Kachi Esogbuna Ozumba continued to seek more avenues to extend his educational work. He remained doggedly committed to his vision, and to his belief that the Grundtvigian concept of “School for Life” can contribute positively towards our national development.
With the Danish folk high school as his model, he formed on Nigerian ground a school with the Grundtvigian goal: “Education for life”.