An outstanding Nigerian teacher, Soji Megbowon of Jakande Comprehensive Senior College, Lagos, has been named as the only Nigerian named among the finalists for the $1 million Global Teacher Prize for 2019, TOPNAIJA.NG reports.
Megbowon was named as one of the top 40 finalists, from the pool of 30,000 teachers from across the world, for the highly-coveted prize.
The Nigerian tutor, and founder of Calculus EDUaids, who is currently attending the award presentation in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, also runs a STEM — science technology engineering and mathematics — club to develop his students’ capacity for local and global opportunities.
He added that he wants his students to become social innovators in their respective communities, as a result from the knowledge that comes with proper STEM education.
“This year I started a STEM club in my school and currently scaling that across other public schools working with science teachers to identify students from low-income background but brilliant, develop their capacity for local and global opportunities through STEM education,” he told journalists.
“Just in my school, I started by having the students and training them when in school and while away for break through a monitored WhatsApp platform with their parents for learning to continue even when Out of school.
“These students, on holiday, aside from meeting on the WhatsApp group, they also meet at the community tech hub I run, free of charge”.
ALSO FIGHTING NIGERIA’S ABYSMAL INFANT MORTALITY RATE
Megbowon’s students have been involved in a global tech competition, where their tech-driven idea was aimed at reducing infant mortality in Nigeria, where the
“Recently students under this program were selected for global competition by The University of Delaware, US, where they came second at the regional competition in Abeokuta with their tech-based solution aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality”.
Megbowon is also attending the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, to further hone his skills for the challenge in the Nigerian education system.
HOW DID MEGBOWON GET HERE?
Poor primary education did not stop Soji from starting his own non-profit enterprise and becoming a social innovator in edtech. As a boy, Soji grew up in the rural settlement of Erekiti, Ondo State, Nigeria, where his parents were peasant farmers. School equipment was rudimentary and teachers were not in tune with modern teaching methods, so he struggled to keep pace.
This led to poor performance during his primary school years, but in secondary school Soji became highly motivated to study computing and mathematics, partly because he had never seen a computer before and previously had no access to computing teachers. He resolved that one day he would try to solve this issue so that other children could have better access to improved learning methods and computer skills. As a result, he took courses in educational development and technology at Master’s degree level, using online resources to further develop his skill set.
In 2012, Soji visited his nephew in Abule Egba, Lagos, only to find out that the same experience he had over 25 years ago – no computers, no resources – was still current. He made up his mind to do something immediately, and in 2013 quit his job as a data analyst to focus on providing pupils in rural primary and secondary schools with access to computer skills. In 2015, he decided to establish an education non-profit, Calculus EDUaids, to research and develop inclusive curriculum-based educational aids that bridge the learning gaps created by large class sizes. He is presently also Mathematics and Computer Science teacher at Jakande Comprehensive Senior College, a low-cost community school in Lagos.
Using Soji’s method has improved the results of his students in Mathematics and Computer Science. In his class there are students who live alone in areas where drug abuse and sexual assault is common. Through his classroom practices and the introduction of curriculum-based learning aids, he has recorded and maintained a 20% improvement in academic performance in the past two years. Over 50 students from other schools who have attended his organised student leadership programme are now leaders in their respective institutions.
In 2017, Soji was one of the local trainers selected for AFRICA CODE week to train over 500 teachers in Ondo State. He has also received the Lagos State Education District commendation, the Creative and Innovative Teacher award, and a commendation from the Vice-President of Nigeria.
IF HE WINS $1M GLOBAL TEACHER PRIZE
If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, Soji would use 30% of the funds to acquire equipment to distribute 30,000 free copies of his curriculum-based learning aids; 40% would be used to distribute 15,000 free copies of his newly invented “letters and digits” board games that teach literacy and numeracy; and 30% would be used to start a mobile technology hub to bridge technology gaps affecting people in rural and underserved communities.
In 2018, two Nigerian teachers, Ayodele Odeogbola from Abeokuta Grammar School and Itodo Anthony from Gateway Excel College Otukpa, Benue State, made the top 40.