Former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo says investment by the private sector in education has the potential of lifting over 14 million out-of-school children to develop their abilities and become useful to themselves and their communities.
Obasanjo made this known over the weekend during the virtual 2020 Fellowship Graduation Ceremony of the second cohort of Teach For Nigeria Fellows, where he stated that to close the dangerous gap noticed in the education space as a nation, the country requires prompt action from well-meaning Nigerians imbued with courage, patriotism, commitment, foresight, and love, in critical mass to spearhead the movement for new Nigeria generally but particularly in education.
Obasanjo in his commencement speech at the event where 161 fellows who have impacted approximately 9,660 students in 80 schools across Lagos, Ogun, and the Kaduna States graduated described the initiative by Teach for Nigeria as laudable, affirming that the ability to identify problems and work towards providing relevant and effective solutions is a unique leadership attribute.
According to him, “What I find most interesting is the diversity of these initiatives and the impact you are driving from projects like edufix focused on providing STEM training to public school teachers, to projects aimed at improving the learning outcome of pupils as well as other ICT, innovation and health-related projects. You have multiplied your impact by creating sustainable solutions that will outlive your time at the fellowship”.
The Teach For Nigeria Fellowship is a 2 year full-time paid commitment that is designed to build a movement of leaders who will work towards eliminating educational inequity in Nigeria by teaching in underserved schools in low-income communities across Nigeria.
The former Nigeria president urged the fellows to see the fellowship as only the beginning of their leadership journey. “While the Fellowship might have provided you with the first-hand experience of the inequities in our system, you have to continue to leverage your acquired skills and experiences to continue to be advocates for educational excellence and be ambassadors for change, driving the movement for freedom and justice in Nigeria,” he said.
Also, Folawe Omikunle, chief executive officer, Teach For Nigeria, said that graduating fellows had spent the past two years improving the academic outcomes of their pupils.
Omikunle said if there is a time we must work harder to fulfill our vision of a future where every Nigerian child will have an excellent education that time is now.
She further noted that the raging Coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the ever-widening gulf between the learning opportunities of the privileged child and the less privileged child.
“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,” Omikunle said.
She opines that the great successes and achievements recorded by this set of Fellows have further entrenched the 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”, she said.