“I do not believe that education should be totally free, it is important that parents share in the responsibility of educating their children.” – Nigeria

For Yemi Ogunwa, teaching was in his blood. “My grandmother was a head teacher and my grandfather an education officer, so teaching was like a family thing for me,” says Ogunwa. Ogunwa specializes in teaching 21st century skills at his school in Nigeria, and is one of the few teacher trainers.

“Not many teachers in this part of the world are conversant with 21st century teaching skills, especially the use of ICT in education, so I decided to educate the teachers on the use of ICT in education and fostering 21st century skills in the students through the Intel Teach program,” says Ogunwa. “Over the last 2 years, I have trained more than 90 teachers and I was recently made an Intel Teach master trainer.” His efforts have indeed made a difference, and many of the projects he has worked on with students and teachers alike have won Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative teaching awards.

Here,Ogunwa shares his experiences bringing 21st century skills to under-funded schools, and the ever-present challenge of keeping students active, engaged and excited about learning.

Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

I have embarked on several projects with my students to enhance their acquisition of 21st century skills. One of these projects was listed in the top 10 of the Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative educators forum in Nigeria in 2010, and more recently, another project I undertook with the students was listed in the top three of the Microsoft Innovative education forum in Nigeria in 2012.

What has changed as a result of your efforts?

Teachers are more ICT literate and are more comfortable incorporating it in their teaching-learning process. Also, a student–centered approach to the process has helped the students to acquire skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration and ICT usage.

How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

The learning environment will not always be perfect, especially in poorly funded public schools such as mine. What I will simply advise is for teachers to improvise and make themselves comfortable as they work. I have had days where I had to use my laptop to show the students some things in class and even assign project to them using it.

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

I have had to use projected presentations in my trainings and sometimes in my classroom lessons I do give students assignment that requires them using the Internet and some other software tools to compile their work.

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

Getting the students to focus on their studies. Most of the students I teach have a low attention span in class, so I always have to get them focused and make the teaching-learning process exciting to them.

What is your country doing well currently to support education?

My state government has a free education policy for primary and high school students; textbooks and writing pads and mathematical sets are also given to students to make learning affordable for them.

What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

I do not believe that education should be totally free, it is important that parents share in the responsibility of educating their children. The government is trying its best to provide quality education for students, but I believe that it cannot be quality enough until
parents have a sense of responsibility towards the welfare of their children.

What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

Project-based learning is a good way of bringing innovation into education both from the teacher and student perspective.

What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

You have got to be determined, and understand the conditions will not always be favorable, but you still have to find away to actualize your dream.

What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

Right now the trend that seems to be helping students around here is a project-based form of learning, getting them to work hands-on and giving targets and guidelines on the expected outcomes.

Family background gets in the way of learning for most students around here. A large number of them are from unlearned homes, so there is no consolidation of teachers’ effort at home. The parents do not appear to be interested in the adequate knowledge building of their children, they prefer them to join them in their trade and business after school hours rather than giving them time to study.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

Every part of the world has its own peculiar problem, but if I could give an educational tool to students within my region, it would be a learning tablet that has soft copies of textbook materials on all the subjects the students offer. The textbooks provided by the government do not cut across all the subjects the students study and are not detailed enough. It can also serve as a note-writing tool for them.


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About Aderounbi Oyeyemi (“Yemi”) Ogunwa

Birthplace: Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria
Current residence: Abeokuta, Nigeria
Education: B.sc Chemistry, M.sc Environmental Chemistry and Pollution Control, Postgraduate diploma in Education
Website I check every day: Yahoomail, Facebook, Goal.com
Person who inspires me most: My Mum
Favorite childhood memory: I have a lot of them
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Morocco
When was the last time you laughed? Why? I laugh everyday. There lots of laughable situations in my country.
Favorite music: Jazz/R&B
Your favorite quote or motto: You can be what you wanna be…

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