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AREAi’s founder emerges Malala Fund Education Champion, gets 3-year grant

AREAi’s founder emerges Malala Fund Education Champion, gets 3-year grant

Gideon Olanrewaju, founder and chief executive officer of the Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi), has emerged one of the newest Malala Fund Education Champions. This is a boost for his organisational accomplishments and contributions to the advancement of educational development globally and locally.

The Malala Fund has a network of education activists who are creating solutions to address systemic barriers to girls’ secondary education in their communities and countries.

The fund named Olanrewaju alongside 22 other education advocates from around the world, including Nigeria’s Oluwasola Fagorusi, chief executive director of Onelife Initiative for Human Development (Onelife).

These advocates will also be supported with funding resources and learning opportunities to develop systemic change needed to help all girls learn and accelerate progress towards girls’ secondary education.

This announcement was made by Gaya Butler, director, Advocates Programme at Malala Fund, on the Malala website.

According to Gaya, “The latest cohort of partners and Education Champions are ambitious, innovative and dedicated. Malala Fund is proud to support their projects and learn from their expertise.”

Reacting to the announcement, Olanrewaju said, “it is an honour to be listed to contribute to this crucial fight for the right of every child to an excellent education, most especially for millions of girls across Nigeria. It is of great concern that girls are denied access to quality learning opportunities due to diverse factors, including traditional and cultural barriers.

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“An existing cultural bias has led to the relative disparities between girls: boys ratio in terms of enrolment, retention and transition, while poor implementation of gender-transformative policies within the education system has failed to adequately address these systemic issues that continue to limit the progression of adolescent girls’ education.”

With the support of the Malala Fund, Olanrewaju would lead the AREAi team to collaboratively work with educational stakeholders, community leaders, school-based management committees and school administrators to devise and implement strategies and policies that would drive quality learning outcomes and improved school attendance for vulnerable girls in 30 schools across Oyo State’s three senatorial districts from 2022 to 2025.

Through an integrated school-to-community intervention that combines school consultations, community-level outreaches, stakeholders engagement, and local grassroots influencing, the team will provide low-cost technology solutions to aid girls’ access to educational content, conduct a series of gender-responsive policies and practices training for critical stakeholders, advocate for gender-responsive budgeting at the state level, drive the development of gender-sensitive teaching practices by female teachers and foster increased girls enrollment and attendance/retention in schools.

As a leading education non-profit, AREAi has designed, coordinated and scaled a series of mass literacy, digital skills development and economic empowerment programs to transform the employability, livelihood and lifelong learning opportunities of over 27,000 girls and 45,000 total beneficiaries in 33 communities across 15 Nigerian states.

Some of the organisations’ past partners and sponsors include the United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, the Coca-Cola Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, Facebook, MTN Foundation, One Young World London, Queens Commonwealth Trust, Global Youth Mobilization, Zurich Foundation and many others.