Hilltop Arts C entre, Minna: The place where future titans are situated

Arguably, over the years there have been challenges on the suitable methods to be adopted for teaching and enhancing creativity of the child in the school. However, mentoring has become an effective strategy for achieving excellence in creative writing, especially on children. IBRAHIM RAMALAN writes on the Hill-Top Arts Centre, Minna and its mentoring programmes that have so far given meaning to the lives of its mentees and their societies through creative endevours.   

The Hill-Top Arts Centre is situated in Hill-Top Model School, Minna, Nigeria and was founded by BM Dzukogi; a Physical and Health Educator and a writer, in 2004. It is a centre where students of secondary schools and universities horn their artistic potentials at school age for a meaningful life engagement and striving to achieve excellence and professionalism in creative writing.
Also, it is a unique environment for interdisciplinary collaboration and creativity, where students use various forms of artistic expressions to showcase their inherent talents.

Similarly, the Hill-Top Arts Centre has as primary objective “to train members to develop their creative abilities in the arts ( Teen Authorship- Poetry, Novel, Play writing, Song, Craft, Painting, Performance, Public Speaking and Language competence, Reading, Photography and socials) so that they aim at becoming professionals from school age.
Also, the centre publishes teen authors as well as adults who are mentors at the centre, provide uncommon reading texts for members, develop role models among students for their peers to appreciate and aim at becoming functional members of the society.
The centre also provide leadership training for members and help them develop spirit of nationalism and patriotism for their country, enhance social relations, provoke debates, discussions, and new thinking by various children of different cultures converging on the art centre in the spirit of humanity to foster unity and co-existence through understanding, cooperation and accommodation.

Mentees can relate with other cultures around the world through arts, bring nearer to the members and the immediate community established writers, artists and leaders to listen to them speak in their renowned areas of specialization.
Provision of workshops, conferences for young writers and artists as a continuous platform for training and development, organise competitions of local, state, national and international status and to pursue the goal of making Niger State a centre of literary production in Nigeria.
The facilities found at the centre include the main theatre, a library called library literati, computer room, an Art Studio (Sakiwa Muse Dome), and a creativity garden called Yard 90.

Programmes lined up for 2016
Twelve books have been proposed for 2016; one per month which shall come about after the monthly guest teen authors’ flash. Two of the twelve books have been published by Polarsphere Books, Minna, so far, while two are in the works.
The published ones are: Mustapha Gimba (Student of Physics Education, Federal University of Technology, Minna), Peter Kwange (Semiat School of Remedial Studies, Minna) while those of Anas Dubanni and Priscilla are in the process of being published. Away from the Art Centre is Zakiyyah M. Dzukogi’s published book of poems. Zakiyyah is in JSS I, Himma International College, Minna and Hassana Etsu’s book which is also being published. She is in SS 2 at Himma International College, Minna.

Method of selecting mentees      
The method of selecting members is largely informal but organised. In the beginning (2004 to 2006), the founder was going to the classes in Hill-Top Model School, Minna to identify and pick students who have already established a reputation for literary and debating activities and enlisted them as members.
Another method of enlisting mentees is through the Annual Schools Carnival of Arts and Festival of Songs (ASCAFS) organised by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Niger State Chapter.

This literary carnival which was first designed by the founder of Hil-Top centre in 1995 is in its 21st edition this year. Under ASCAFS which later grew to comprise nine categories of On-the-spot writing, quiz, painting, songs, craft, cultural display, folk song, drama, photography, Hill-Top Art Centre form for registration is usually distributed to prize-winners free to attract them there.
So in time, the Art Centre has become a state centre where students from any school can come as a mentee with the purpose of becoming a writer, painter etc.
A typical example of using ASCAFS as discovery ground is Deborah Oluniran, an eighteen years old girl who is the author of ‘Ewa’ from Niger Baptist College, Minna.
Similarly, parents who are aware of the existence of the centre bring their children on Saturdays to enroll as members. Teachers do the same too.
Multi-mentoring modules of the Hill-Top Art Centre
Face-to-face mentorship…. Read more from Source