Bamidele Isaac Itunu is a Professional Educator, an Education Officer, and a Social Change Enthusiast. His global exposures serve him well and have enabled his imprint on the global map of education pedagogy, instruction, and leadership. He has close to a decade of experience in education leadership, management, and policy execution.
In seeking out his passion for providing access to equitable and quality education, he has reached thousands of kids in low-income communities in Nigeria. This passion has birthed the vision and mission of Giddy2School Education Initiative, where he works with diverse professionals over the world to remedy Nigeria’s out-of-school index.
His interest includes; research and analysis, reading, networking, traveling, nature photography, and playing video games in his free time.
In a recent interview with K 12 Digest, Isaac discussed his views on technology and education, equitable and quality education to everyone, current status of school education in Nigeria and SDG focused initiative. Here are excerpts from the interview.
What is the current status of the school education system? Is it preparing students to be flexible and adaptable?
Following the heavy disruption of education by COVID-19, the Nigerian school system has been going through a lot of internal and systems changes. It seems we were not prepared for the realities which we had to navigate and urgently so at the time. However, in a turf where have little or no time to go through proper management and operation maneuver, the school system has been doing great adapting to the needs of students while incorporating flexibility and adaptability, a mode of learning beyond the four walls of the classroom both globally and locally, and an alternative to delivering quality education. A general term known as Virtual Education. So, yes, people make systems, and our students are a big part of the school system, most especially in Nigeria. Students are now smoothly transiting to the use of hybrid education as part of the investiture of the school system after the pandemic.
Take us through the establishment of Giddy2School Nigeria, its vision, and its mission.
Giddy2School Nigeria is more than an establishment to me; it is a story. A story of passion, and purpose, a story of suffering, and grit. A story that continues to unfold as our every work in low-income communities progresses. Growing up, I had challenges with the school system, I also grew up in a marginalized region, with no basic amenities, and no quality life, I often read with a kerosene lamp always oozing a lot of flames, sometimes a candle. This made education tough to attain. All these challenges and many more abound even stronger today in our low-income communities, and they impede the learning and development of millions of children.
This is our ‘why’ at Giddy2School. Our vision is that “One day, every Nigerian child will have a 100% literacy rate with equal opportunities, and access to quality, inclusive and excellent education presentable anywhere in the world.” While the education advocacy space is filled with advocates who take kids off the streets, our mission is to keep children off the streets and in their schools, with an integrated intensive care approach to reduce the school dropout index and illiteracy rate of Nigeria.
How did COVID-19 impact education worldwide? Do you think schools and educational institutions were able to mitigate those challenges effectively?
As I have said earlier, if COVID-19’s disruption story was to be told by different people; students, educational institutions, formal and non-formal education systems, it would always be a different narrative, because of different realities in development and exposure to technological adoption and advancements. The smooth and swift transition experienced in the western world is not the same as we experienced in Africa, same with Asia, or South America, but, yes, a man who is not struggling does not exist. But they have always solved their problems somehow. In Africa, most especially in Nigeria, based on the side of the educational system that I belong to at the time, it was really strange and difficult to adapt, but yet, adaptation is a human skill if we must survive.
Having recorded experience in the education sector, how would you describe the amalgamation of technology and education? Is there a difference between traditional and modern pedagogies in school education?
I think the amalgamation of technology and education is the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to us in the education sector. And like I always say when I get the opportunity to train teachers like myself, on several occasions, I always reiterate the need for teachers to catch the train of inducting technology or be left behind. Although there is a lot of debate about whether “technology is doing more good or harm on the 21st-century pedagogy and methodologies” in the end, the wise saying “what we feed our focus fills the reins” come to mind. Traditional methods are simply traditional, we don’t live in traditional anymore, we now live in the house of tomorrow, and our learners deserve to explore the possibilities of tomorrow, not today because they are being trained to solve problems tomorrow, to design something we have never seen, or even thought of. Although Blended learning strategies seem to do the magic sometimes, I believe no classroom in this 21st century should still be full-blown traditional methods. That would be disastrous.
What factors motivated you to foraying into the field of education? As a founder of Giddy2School, how are you using your years of experience to provide access to equitable and quality education in low-income communities?
Growing up I wanted to be a teacher, my parents, most especially my sister would look at me like someone going nuts. Being the firstborn of the family, with such huge investments in my education, they wanted me to be a doctor or a pilot, but teaching has always been the path for me, and I am glad I followed my passion.
If I were asked why become a teacher? Without mincing words, I’d say ‘Empathy’. I have been taught by a little less caring teacher, and been through a rough education system, even up to the tertiary institution level. But each time I look inward, I just want better for people coming behind. I have this heavy sense of responsibility to do my part, to help my country’s education system, we are not there yet, but we have helped cover a reasonable number of grounds in the past 5 years and counting.
As the Founder, Giddy2School Nigeria, we mobilize, educate, and collaborate with like-minded change-makers, professional teachers, coaches, and teacher trainers, and grant opportunities across the world to ameliorate poor living conditions, motivation bankruptcy, lack of teaching exposure, coaching sessions for high need children in low-income communities as well as developed areas to break learning barriers and difficulties between a learner and his actual change in behavior with a giddy approach to pedagogy, for the attainment of quality life.
Throw some light on your recent interventions in education. What is unique about the teaching and learning approaches that you are implementing in your school?
Systems Thinking. Talking about using education to change our world, through educational interventions, I’d say systems thinking. I found a very fascinating turf of social entrepreneurship in my advocacy training where I was selected as part of the Top 100 World Young Leaders with UNITE2030; UNITE2030 is a nonprofit organization that brings together young leaders to solve the world’s problems through sustainable innovations before 2030. Here, I learned about the HCDs; Human-Centered Designs for the first time, and it was fascinating because the HCDs are the bedrock of sustainable problem-solving innovation.
At Giddy2School, we have 9 ambassadors converged from 4 continents and 5 countries of the world come together to design a locally adapted HCD curriculum to ring an overhaul in the Nigerian Systems; “A-change-begins-with-me approach” from every Nigerian classroom.
We are excited and optimistic about how much of a system change this intervention approach will bring to every Nigerian child.
As an UN SDSN Mentor, brief us about the implementation of SDG focused initiative in India.
Thank you for this question. Talking about my stark interest in the Sustainable Development Goals, knowledge not shared is sometimes knowledge wasted. I applied to the UN SDSN Mentorship of the Innovation Readiness Program 2022, of course, you must expect a lot of quality applications, but I was amongst the few chosen. I was assigned to mentor Namrata Tiwari, the founder of ITS’ALLFOLKS; a textile and apparel sustainable social innovation design initiated in ASSAM, INDIA. IT’SALLFOLKS is a fashion craftsmanship used as a social mediation tool, aspiring to support culture preservation, awareness, and continuation of dying crafts.
Down the line of my engagement with Namrata, despite that her innovation was one of the youngest in the innovation bank, we emerged top 12 finalists of the IRP2022.
How do you stay abreast of the periodic technological and industry changes in a constantly evolving world?
I recently took a highly revered comprehensive personality test; lots of personality traits responses were questionnaired. Fast forward to my results, the first on the list was LEARNER!
So, yes, a man who is willing to always learn will always remain relevant in the long run irrespective of what change has been ringed.
Tell us about the network of professionals you have created. Can you shed some light on a few initiatives or techniques you are incorporating?
As a Teach for Nigeria fellow, I am blessed with professionals of Fellows, Coaches, and the Alumni Association, which has been very key to my professional upgrades in the past two years. At UNITE2030, I made a network of world professionals, social innovators from various sectors, and young and passionate leaders which gave rise to our Ambassadorships tenure at Giddy2School for the development of Leadership Curriculums, Free Coaching and Mentorship, as well as Career Guidance. I had the privilege of attending The International Teachers and Educators Program (ITEP 2022) alongside high-impact educators from all around the world; an in-person conference in Poland, where we unraveled the “Polish History of Totalitarianism and Actions Towards a Peaceful and Sustainable World”. Education Influence is another amazing hub of networking with Teachers and Educators globally, whose experiences and context have taught me a lot as a Professional. What we do as a network simply is to leverage the partnership to solve problems, design innovations, develop Human Resources, Educational systems, and strengthen National Development.
What are some of the most significant milestones you have achieved so far in your professional journey? What has been the driving force behind your success as a Global Education Influencer?
Milestones can be whatever we call them. For me, milestones are daily goals smashed, daily lives impacted, daily human resource development, and everything I do for humanity that speaks for itself and that others speak about. For me, apart from what we generally perceive as milestones and progress, this is the hallmark of an iconic existence; Positive Impacts. And this has been a determining factor for the award of Global Education Influencer conferred on me by the World’s leading education group; The Education Influence.
As a successful business leader, what would your advice be to youngsters aspiring to become business leaders and entrepreneurs in the future?
My advice to young and aspiring leaders, be it in business, leadership, or academia is to START. Whatever your ambitions are, start. Start where you are, with what you have, with the network you have, start afraid, start staggering, but start. Because ideas or goals don’t get realized until we left the conceptual stage of taking action. It will be challenging, but we would have learned as much while we increase in leadership, grit, and mastery.
What projects or goals are you working on or leading currently?
Providing access to quality education in low-income communities in Nigeria is my full-time passion. This is carried out within the tenets of GIDDY2SCHOOL Nigeria, in which I am the Founder and Team Lead.
Close to 20 million children are out of school in Nigeria. This is a result of the global pandemic. Our projects revolve around child school enrollment, academic revamps for low fliers as well as high fliers, career coaching, mentorship, and palliative intervention for kids who cannot afford basic life amenities and factors impeding them from attaining basic quality education. We are a nonprofit organization, and we need all the support we can get to change the narratives of kids in slums, rural areas, border lines, and so on. You can learn more about our work on our website; www.giddy2school.org, as well as connect with us on our social media platforms; Giddy2School Nigeria to support us, and enroll a child in school today.