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I wish people would look at me with admiration, not pity, when I introduce myself as a teacher- Aramide Akintimehin

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Akintimehin

Education is improving the lives of others and leaving your world or community better than you found it. This is one of the major roles teachers play. They affect eternity, and no one can determine where their influence stops. With the global pandemic, parents are beginning to see the value of these wonderful humans who not only teach our kids, but also influence them to be better.

Aramide Akintimehin is one of such souls, she is adding colour to the world by dedicating her life and time to teach primary school pupils. She earns a living as a primary school teacher while running a free out-of-school children Initiative called Talent Mine Academy, a journey she embarked on because of the poor quality of education in public schools.

In the course of imparting knowledge in children, Aramide also said she learns from them, and it has become a two-way learning curve. The first-class degree holder in Economics, who is very passionate about her chosen career path, shares her inspiring journey and the effect of Covid-19 on teachers and students in this mind-blowing interview.

Childhood Preparation
Growing up as a child, I really loved to teach. I remember running home everyday after school to arrange 7up bottles in my house like a classroom and I would literally start to teach them what my teacher had taught me in school for the day. At some points, I would arrange them for presentations and begin to sing and dance with them. As I progressed to secondary school and even higher institution, I explained difficult concepts to my classmates and even took mini-tutorials on Sundays. It has always been my dream to teach since I was six years old.

Being a Primary School Teacher
Fabulous! I am doing what I love and the level of joy and fulfillment I get from seeing my kids grow into responsible champions keeps me motivated always.

Talent Mine Academy
As a teacher, I went out of school one day during the break period and, on my way out, I noticed some kids roaming the streets during school hours. I called two of them and we had a conversation because I really wanted to know why they weren’t in school at that time. They both stated that their parents did not have enough money to send them to school. This bothered me much because education has played a major role in my life and I see no reason why a child should be denied this life-changing experience.

This is the major reason why I started a free academy where out-of-school children and kids who cannot afford quality education are equipped with basic literacy, numeracy, and digital skills. Also, we empower their parents economically with vocational and entrepreneurial skills so that they can sustain their families. We currently have 26 kids and I work with 20 amazing volunteers, and we hope to be established in seven communities; impacting over 3000 kids by 2024.

Appreciation of Young Female Teachers in the Society
Hmmm! One day, I hope that when I introduce myself as a teacher, people will look at me with admiration and not with pity or as a failure.

Effect of Covid-19 on the educational sector and the role of Parents
I advise that this period, parents should rather impact their kids with the basic life skills they need to thrive in life. They should teach their kids simple courtesy, computer skills and so on. They should work on improving their thinking skills, creativity level, problem-solving skills and most importantly, they should leverage on this period to spend quality time and build a solid relationship with their kids.

Post Covid19 effect on students
The severity of the school closure will affect kids in low-income communities the most, because of the interrupted learning system and high economic costs of living they are currently facing. I’ve spoken to some of my kids during this period and they’ve stated how hard things are, as their parents do not work anymore. The lack of access to the Internet and technological devices will prevent these kids from learning at the comfort of their homes like the privileged kids are doing at the moment. The closure can also influence the behavioural patterns of the kids as most of them are not exposed to the relatives and family members that constantly abuse them and influence them negatively.  I can just imagine how Aliyat (one of my kids who her brother constantly calls a dullard) will feel about herself and academics when she resumes. Will that kind of child be open to the belief that she can solve difficult concepts with that mindset block?

Asides from the interruption in learning, these kids are also deprived of the growth and development in terms of social skills that they derive from being present in a school environment. Parents can never replace teachers in this case as they do not have the knowledge and expertise to be a competent teacher for their kids, as they might not know the learning needs of the child. However, being deprived of all these development factors the school offers, the students will be affected one way or the other after the resumption of schools.

Challenges as a Teacher and Social Entrepreneur
I see challenges as opportunities and learning curves so, at the moment, I really cannot recall any challenge I am currently facing in my work.

Other projects and activities
My next project is to provide Post-Covid-19 support to the parents and kids of Talent Mine Academy. We hope to restock their food items after this pandemic is over because, after the lockdown, they might not have any food items left as most of them had to stop working and might not have any money after the lockdown. I would have to fundraise to do this, but I believe it is worth it because the initiative will support their families pending the period they recover fully from the economic impact of the pandemic.

To the Government and Education System
The Covid-19 didn’t affect the education system in some countries and even some schools right here in Nigeria were not too affected because they already had a pre-existing system/structure they could fall back to- technology. Before now, they had already leveraged technology to aid learning and support remote learning, so this was not really a big issue for them. However, there are currently no low-cost schools or public schools that are running at the moment because there is no system or structure to fall on during this period. I believe that all schools including public schools should focus on embracing technology and creating a system where remote learning can take place easily.

Technology is the future of education and the best part is that education is actually the future of any country. The education system should introduce more learning models to build the resilience of the education system against times like this. I believe that this cannot happen without the government investing more in the education system as against the less than 26 per cent budget allotted to the sector.

Being a Woman of Rubies
Sometime last year, I studied the Rubies and I noticed that people pay millions of dollars just to acquire what looks enticing outside, but they do not know the content inside that gemstone. The Bible describes a Proverbs 31 woman as one worth more than rubies because she is virtuous and capable.

Being virtuous is an inner quality. The dictionary puts it as one who has high standards, character or values. However, being capable is an external quality which means that you have the ability to do something. You have various skill sets and abilities. If you agree with me, one cannot have a skill set or know how to do something without learning it and you must be willing to learn something before you can actually devote time and resources to learning it. So when you find someone that is capable-one that knows how to do a lot of things (making hair, sewing, cooking, makeup and so on), that person has taken time to learn because he/she is willing. So it is willingness to learn that makes one capable.

The combination of being virtuous (inner glow) and capable (outer glow) is what makes me have more worth than rubies. I believe that I am a woman of so much character, values and standards and I am worth much more than my external view. I would rather glow from the inside out because, beyond beauty and appearance, good character truly makes you attractive. Though I am not perfect, my commitment to learn and be better at being me daily is beyond words and I am grateful to God for that spirit.

Three women who inspire me to be better
Funmilola Oluwalade, Ibukun Awosika and
Grace Amoka.

To young women who want to become teachers
The only thing I have to say is that, “until the day you care less about money and the opinions/actions of people, you will never live the life God has called you to live.” You are really self-sabotaging yourself and the destinies tied to you. Become fearless and soar. The education sector needs you and, trust me, it is a worthy profession. Now and always!


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