Adeola Adefemi

Oke-Odo Senior High School, Alimosho, Lagos , Nigeria

Lagos

Adeola  Adefemi

When she first qualified as a teacher, Adeola was deployed to an underserved community in the highest-populated local government region in Lagos, Nigeria. Its public school, where Adeola was to teach, was labelled “low-performing” due to three years of poor performance in a regional examination – and the general perception that education was not valued in the community.

Through her previous experiences working as a broadcaster and serving in the National Youth Service Corps, Adeola understood how extracurricular activities, after-school classes and competitions can help feed academic achievement. To boost the school's academic performance, she decided to launch the EVERY CHILD COUNTS campaign, creating subject-associated clubs which students joined based on their interests. After six months of intensive mentoring, students were then encouraged to enter inter-school, state, and national competitions to build confidence. Within a year, the school as a whole had won over 30 competitions, and two years later it won the African Top School Award for its academic performance.

Adeola’s campaigns have also had wider benefits – particularly for girls. Due to problems like FGM, child marriage, child labour and violence, Adeola found the percentage of girls attending school always dropped by the end of the year. To address this problem, Adeola launched the CHILD NOT BRIDE campaign, using stage plays and poetry to show the dangers of these practices and emphasise the importance of speaking up. Within a month, incidents had been reported and the students affected were removed to safety. The campaign also helped train girls in entrepreneurial skills so that they could sponsor themselves through college if other funding was not available.

With hard work, Adeola has helped her students achieve more than some ever thought possible. In five years, they won 103 different international, national and state competitions, including the Commonwealth Day Inter-Schools Competition, United Nations Poetry Competition, and the World Water Day Competition. Pass rates in English Language regional examinations have risen from 24% to 88%. A number of students have won scholarships for their essays, with six also travelling to the UK on an educational tour for winning the Be Road Friendly Essay Competition. In addition, sixty students have received commendation letters from the state government.

Adeola has also received considerable recognition herself. In 2019, she won both the CreditDirect Outstanding Teacher of the Year and the Junior Chamber International Outstanding Young Person in Nigeria Award. In 2020 she won the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Award, and was also awarded Overall Best Teacher in Lagos State Education District 1. If she wins the Global Teacher Prize, she will use the funds to build a performing arts studio for the many students in her community who find it difficult to cope in school without an outlet for their interest in the arts. The studio would be run as free after-school and weekend classes for students interested in pursuing performing arts as a career.