Gideon Olanrewaju graduated from the University of Sussex with a master’s in International Education and Development (MAIED). In this blog he shares how volunteering ignited his desire to transform the lives of disadvantaged children in rural communities in Nigeria.
Prior to enrolling at the University of Sussex, I had spent 2 years leading Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi), a small non-profit organisation that provides technical and infrastructural support to under-resourced schools in rural communities. This voluntary work, birthed out of passion, shaped my professional development aspirations and attending the University of Sussex helped me develop the academic competencies needed to innovatively transform, enhance and deliver quality learning experiences for disadvantaged children in rural communities.
While at the University of Sussex, I was involved in a number of outreach and ambassadorial activities that enriched my university experience. Being part of the Nigerian Sussex Students Society made my stay lively, while working with the International Office as an International Student Ambassador and assisting with the University’s strategy for international cooperation and student recruitment was life changing. Through this I was able to share my student experience with current and prospective students through regularly scheduled online chat sessions and phone conversations.
The skills I developed and the knowledge I acquired during my studies have really aided my growth both personally and professionally. I returned to Nigeria to improve the effectiveness of my organisation and this yielded a number of immediate and long-term results. Together with my team we:
- pivoted the organisation’s intervention model to focus on developing alternative learning systems at the grassroots to respond to the infrastructural needs of rural communities and the need for marginalised children to acquire foundational literacy and numeracy skills
- introduced community learning clusters to create learning opportunities for out-of-school children and we have supported over 200 children since.
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