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We were told no graduate can dedicate two years to free teaching — Omikunle, TFN boss

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TFN, Teach For Nigeria, Folawe Omikunle
Mrs Folawe Omikunle

By Elizabeth Osayande

For the Chief Executive Officer, Teach For Nigeria, TFN, Mrs Folawe Omikunle, teaching for free is an impossibility being achieved; changing the narrative of free basic education for the underprivileged in the country through the mobilisation of young Nigeria graduates, who dedicate two years of their lives to providing education beyond boundaries.

Omikunle, who spoke at the virtual graduation ceremony of 2020 cohorts of the TFN, gave an insight into the remarkable feats of the fellows.

How we started

Just like yesterday, we were told on numerous occasions that we will never find young Nigerians that will dedicate two years of their lives to teaching pupils in the most underserved and marginalised communities in this country.

Today, we are graduating 161 Fellows who have impacted approximately 9,660 students in 80 schools across Lagos, Ogun, and Kaduna states. These Fellows are joining our maiden set of 44 alumni members, thereby bringing the number of our alumni network to 205 members.

These graduating Fellows have spent these past two years improving the academic outcomes of their pupils, while igniting the love for learning in these pupils, instilling self-belief and successfully galvanising parental and community support to aid in their pupils learning process.

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Remarkable feats of 2020 graduating TFN fellows

This set of Fellows was resolute and committed to changing the narrative, not just one classroom at a time, but a child at a time. They go extra lengths to engage the parents of these children, community members, elders and religious leaders to leverage their support in giving that one child an expanded opportunity at a better life in the future.

In only two years of the Fellowship, we have seen Fellows teach children under some extremely challenging conditions, yet they have been dogged, innovative and resourceful. An example is Akeem Badru, who boards a canoe to get in and out of his school’s community, the only other route being a bush path.

Akeem is the only teacher for primary 1 to 4 classes; a school that had been abandoned by every teacher and head teacher due to the remoteness of the village. Because the teachers never stayed long enough to make any impact, the children in this community leave to study away from their families in neighbouring communities.

Their story changed when Akeem was posted to this community. Due to the terrain and inaccessibility of this community, he lives in the community with a family and only returns to his family on weekends.

Another fellow is Grace Amoka, who also launched a project that delivers literacy skills intervention to low-income communities.

She believes that literacy is a basic tool that gives an understanding of other subjects and helps children see the world differently, thereby providing them with an opportunity to have a meaningful life overall.

Grace also provides career educational programmes, through field and virtual trips for children in low-income communities.

These programmes broaden their horizon as they are exposed to diverse experiences not found in their world that will help them to dream. About 100 children have been impacted through Grace’s interventions.

Other inspiring stories, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, include Precious Adegunle, who began a project to digitise the Nigerian curriculum in the nation’s indigenous languages.

She went further to raise funds to pre-install these educational contents on tablets and distributed them to her pupils for free.

For Temitope Ifegbesan and Gideon Ogunfeyinmi, they launched a project that addresses the parents’ financial inability to cater for their children’s education, feeding and health needs. They do this by economically empowering mothers in low-income communities.

What we do at TFN

At Teach For Nigeria we believe that education is not a privilege, it is a right. We must continue to work together to build a nation that will ensure this right for every child.

Furthermore, we must continue to forge formidable collaborations across all walks of life to defeat this multi-headed hydra called education inequity; it is time to unleash the potential of the next generation.

The great successes and achievements recorded by this set of Fellows have further entrenched our belief in the power of collective efforts in solving problems.

We are filled with pride and joy, when we think about the plethora of change agents we are adding to our ever-continuous work through our alumni community with Teach For Nigeria.

These leaders and many others have shown us that leadership coupled with innovation and collaboration can be a panacea to the ills in our educational sector.

Our job is to continue to provide the platform and opportunities to help leaders find their true purpose. The journey for the graduating Fellows does not end here. Teach For Nigeria is a life-long commitment in the fight against educational inequity.

We are positive that our alumni will continue to work towards ensuring that one day we have a Nigeria where every child can attain an excellent education.

Collaboration is key to our incredible success

It is a wonderful feeling as one begins to absorb the incredible achievements of these set of Fellows. However, all of these would have been almost impossible without the presence of our staff, board members, ambassadors, donors, partners, champions, allies and friends.

VANGUARD

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