Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Judeson Ogberaha
The crew of Tectono Business Review came in contact with the Chief Executive Officer of Learnrite International Publishers Limited, Mr. Judeson Ogberaha. Nigerians, can you believe that as a child, this man was considered a total discomfiture to his school because of perceived inadequacies by his teachers. He recalled that on a particular day, he was locked up together with his friend in a toilet for two hours to avoid spoiling the image of the school before a visiting education inspector. Instead of killing his morale and interest in education, the ugly incident became a turning point in his life. In this interview with Tectono Business Review, the man who was written off as a dullard by his teachers shared the experience of how he rose to become a prolific writer, author and a successful publisher. This interview is quite inspirational. Relax and enjoy it.

Could you tell us about your early life?
I am from Isoko in Delta State but was born In Ekiti State before my parents moved to Ogun State. My parents were peasant farmers, so growing up was very tough. In fact, I was a dullard in my primary school days. One day, my teacher had to lock my friend and me in the toilet for two hours because an inspector was coming to the school. After we were released, I asked why we had to be locked up in the toilet and to my amazement, she said the decision was taken to prevent us from embarrassing the school before the inspector should he decide to ask us any question. That was my experience as a pupil in the primary school back then.  The dullard of those days has become a man imparting knowledge on thousands of school children across the country and the continent of Africa as our books are in demands even in America and European countries. The incident was one of the things that challenged me to aim for excellence in life. I wish that my teachers who see my books would remember me and that ugly event. It goes on  to mean that everyone can turn his problems to success and that when a  child is not doing well initially, he should be loved and cared for and not given the kind of treatment that I received because it could go a long way to affect the psyche of such child academically and socially.  It could make some children to suffer emotional imbalance and inferiority among their peers.

When did you start publishing?
I started publishing in 1996 when I found that there was a dearth of quality books in the country. Instead of buying books made in the country, many high-brow private schools were importing books from abroad.

Before you ventured into publishing, what were you doing?
For over 15 years, I ran a private school where I taught in all the classes. That gave me the first-hand knowledge about the missing areas in our curriculum. I didn’t just wake up to start a school. It started when I heard voice instructing me to pick chalk and begin to write. I started this and before I knew it, a parent brought two children, later another one brought three children and it began to grow from there. Our books are children friendly. What we have done is to break down topics in languages best understood by the children. No matter how complex the topics are, any child that takes our books will easy grasp it because of our approach to it. If you check foreign books, you will see that our culture and traditions are not reflected in them. We have accommodated all these in our books to help the children have a good understanding of our culture and also enhance their moral values. We have brought back the African culture and values in our books and they have been having huge impact on the children using them. We get testimonies about this and academic success from schools and parents. For private schools, especially the high-brow ones to adopt a book implies that it is of good quality. We are willing to and prepared to partner with various state governments.

You appear to be concentrating on the primary classes. Why is this so?
You cannot build any solid house without a solid foundation. This is why we are concentrating on producing books that will help in building solid foundation for our children. We want our children to be well molded from the foundation just like the Americans. When you see an American child, he or she thinks like an adult because of the quality of knowledge impacted on them. This is what we are out to achieve.

What are the challenges confronting you as a publisher?
The challenges are enormous. First is the challenge of power supply in the country. Like many other companies in the country, we rely on generator to generate power and to do this everyday means spending huge resources on a daily basis. This is killing many businesses in the country as it affects your income and capital by extension. Another challenge is the huge tax being charged by the government.  I am not saying that the government should not collect tax from publishing houses but they should be lenient with us because we are helping to correct social issues and consequently assisting the government to lessen their problems. Finance is the next on the list of these problems. Publishing business is capital intensive and when you approach the banks for loan, they would ask for collateral and several other requirements. This is making it difficult for many people with lofty ideas to thrive. This is one area I want the government to look into to help entrepreneurs.

Looking at the books, one can see that your name is in on all of  them. How is it that you wrote Mathematics and  English Language books?
It started as a result of necessity. My first degree is in English Language. I also have a Masters Degree in English Language and currently doing my PhD in it but situation made me to study Mathematics.  If for the past 15 years our children have continued to fail WAEC, it shows that our curriculum is failing. Many children believe that Maths is hard but my experience has shown that it is not.

Attention is gradually shifting to e-learning, what threat does this pose to the publishing industry?
We are aware of this and are fully prepared for it. But the challenges in the country don’t make us really ripe for it now. The challenge of power supply does not encourage e-learning and e -library. The problem of piracy also makes it difficult for e-learning and e-library because by when you upload your works online, pirates would easily and quickly feast on it.

How do you relax and what time do you have for your family considering your family schedule?
I can count on my fingers the number of times I have attended social functions or travelled outside Lagos State in the last 30 years that I took up this task upon myself. Sometimes, after working all day, I would pick my car key in the evening and drive around. This is how I relax and  I get inspired the more when I do this. I write at night because the brain is more relaxed then.

As an avid reader and a writer one would hardly believe that you would have time for love. When did you find love?
Behind every successful man there is a woman. So, for me to succeed, I needed a woman and I found one, a very brilliant and God fearing one. When I met her, I was still operating  a very small class of few children. When we met, I told her that I had a call to teach the whole country. She replied by asking if it was from that small place that I would teach the whole nation. Being a woman of great faith, she saw through it.