In Nigeria, over 10.5 million children are out of school. But that is not the only problem: a large number of kids in school are not getting the quality of education they need. Nearly 60% of primary 6 pupils in the country cannot read.
Quality education is not just about infrastructure, but an environment where children can thrive, and this involves being trained by the teachers who know how to help them achieve this.
Our #BellaNaijaWCW this week Folawe Omikunle is working to ensure that marginalised children have access to quality education and opportunities for them to maximise their potential. Folawe is the CEO of Teach For Nigeria, a part of the Teach For All network made up of 46 independent, locally led and governed partner organizations working to develop “collective leadership in classrooms and communities around the world.” This is done by recruiting and assembling a coalition of teachers who address education challenges holistically, whether in the school, or outside.
Folawe, a graduate of International Law and Diplomacy (Babcock University), after her bagging a master’s degree at the Diplomatic Academy of London, University of Westminster, returned to Nigeria and took up an appointment as a School Administrator at a Montessori Pre-school in Lagos, Nigeria.
She began to think about inequity in the education sector after an orphaned child was enrolled in her school, and this made her resolve to contribute her quota in reducing it. She enrolled at Modern Montessori International, London for a Diploma in Montessori Education and later joined the Association of Private Educators in Nigeria (APEN) as a Program Coordinator. She later became the organisation’s Executive Secretary.
She joined Teach for Nigeria in 2015 as its Program Manager, contributing in the set up, planning and organisation of the organisation from inception. In 2016, she became its CEO.
Through its Teach For Nigeria Fellowship, the platform recruits and trains Nigeria’s graduates and young professionals of all academic disciplines to work as full time teachers in underserved schools in poor communities. The fellowship is described as a “transformational leadership program that equips Fellows with transferable leadership skills to effect change beyond the classrooms in the communities they serve.”
Teach for Nigeria supports and develops teachers, cultivates collective leadership, and shares innovative ideas that will help children in these communities thrive. It is focused on developing a movement of leaders across the nation who are committed to putting an end to educational inequity.
Folawe is also the cofounder of SWORTE Talks. A SWORTE Talk is described as “a 10 minutes story or series of stories from real life experiences from SPEAKERS that inspire and drive positive change.” She was named in Avance Media’s 100 most influential young Nigerians list (2017), which highlighted her experience and commitment to social development. She was also named in the Leading Ladies Africa/YNaija’s list of 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria 2018.
We celebrate Folawe for dedicating her life to tackling Nigeria’s education challenges, especially as it concerns underserved communities.