Two Nigerians named among 10 finalists for Africa Education Medal

Folawe Omikunle, chief executive officer of Teach For Nigeria, and Jide Martin, founder/CEO of Comic Republic have been listed among the top 10 finalists for the new Africa Education Medal for their impact, leadership, and advocacy in the field of African education.

Omikunle and Martin joined eight other outstanding individuals from across Africa named in the new award launched this year by T4 Education in collaboration with HP and Intel to be given to an outstanding individual in the field of education.

The Africa Education Medal was founded to recognise the tireless work of those who are transforming education across the continent – to celebrate the stories of those who have lit the spark of change in order to inspire others.

Brad Pulford, managing director at HP Africa, while congratulating Folawe Omikunle and Jide Martin, said he hopes many others will be inspired to follow their outstanding examples as leaders in the field.

According to Pulford, HP has been committed to enabling better learning outcomes for 100 million people by 2025.

“Achieving this bold goal would not be possible without empowered education leaders and trailblazers who are at the forefront of the rapidly changing education environment. A quality education empowers not just individuals, but entire communities. It skills the next generation to fulfill their full potential in a world being transformed by technology,” Pulford said.

Folawe Omikunle is one of the most prominent and influential educators in Nigeria. Her non-profit organisation tackles educational inequities by recruiting university graduates and working professionals from diverse backgrounds to serve as full-time teachers in Nigeria’s most under-served schools.

Omikunle has led the movement from its inception to a place where it has now impacted over 300,000 students and just fewer than 1,000 young leaders across Lagos, Ogun, and Kaduna states of Nigeria.

Under her leadership, 249 alumni of Teach For Nigeria have undertaken various initiatives to impact the system including founding social enterprises such as a Child Support Initiative, which looks to promote menstrual hygiene, and Mentor an Africa Child Initiative which looks at expanding and providing digital access opportunities to kids in low-income contexts.

She has further mobilised over $8 million in multi-year funding from international donors as well as the public and private sectors.

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Jide Martin is Africa’s largest publisher of independent comic books and the continent’s first digital comic book company. He is an illustrator, designer, producer, and entrepreneur with a passion for shaping Africa’s narrative through art.

He uses the power of comics to tell compelling African stories to Africans and to the rest of the world.

As a young comic book fan growing up, Martin told UNICEF, that he would face dilemmas by asking himself: ‘What would Superman do?’ It was a question that always led him to do the right thing like a hero. This strong moral compass, like that of the Man of Steel himself, set him down the path of trying to communicate change through his love of comics and art.

One thing he realised was that of all the superheroes in the world, not many are in Africa. So, he decided to create his own characters that would reflect the cultures and environments his readers would identify with and educate them on moral values.

The Comic Republic distributes free weekly comics to consumers, with over 100,000 monthly downloads. In 2017, it produced over 2 million school notebooks including stories about African heroes. It also runs an internship programme that educates young minds in the arts and business.

The eight other top finalists for the Africa Education Medal are Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania and chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Partnership for Education; Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, South Africa; Basuti Bolo, founder/ CEO of GoToSpace, in Botswana.

Others are Cyrille Nkontchou, founder/chairman of Enko Education, in Ivory Coast; Felix Malombe, executive director of STEAM Labs Africa, in Kenya; John Mugo, executive director of Zizi Afrique Foundation, in Kenya; Musu Bakoto Sawo, national coordinator of Think Young Women, in Gambia and Noella Coursaris Musunka, founder/CEO of the Georges Malaika Foundation, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The winner of the Africa Education Medal will be announced in September.