Tolulope Ogunremi is a 21-year-old Computer Science and Mathematics graduate and she is ‘passionate about adequate education for all’, which led her to set up two not-for-profit organisations – Coders of Colour, supports more young people from underrepresented backgrounds into tech, and Project Hezi, which tackles education inequality in Nigeria.
“I am passionate about adequate education for all. This is demonstrated in my work in the STEM, teaching coding in computer science and currently working in Mathematics abroad.”
Tolulope works with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education teaching Maths to early secondary school students (JSS 2 and 3) in the city of Ibadan, home to Nigeria’s oldest university founded in 1948 – University of Ibadan – located in southwestern Nigeria.
“That’s the age that children still really need to go to school, but are old enough to work. This means that they are at a high risk of being taken out of school.
I am increasing access to technology through Coders of Colour, where we run free coding workshops for underrepresented people of colour. I started this because as a young person of colour myself, I couldn’t identify with anyone either in age or ethnicity at the various events that I attended as a participant.
I had an inkling that there may be a systemic problem causing this. I decided to start running ‘hands-on’ coding events, where young people would have the opportunity to try out some coding for a day and leave with the power to decide whether or not they want to pursue that career path.
In Summer 2018, I ran a five-week coding course for groups of 12-25-year-olds.
This year (2019) we ran a two-week program for young people teaching them coding skills to build mobile apps.
The winner, Grace, built a LinkedIn for teens using the Ionic framework with the skills that she had learnt over the two weeks. We also aim to provide role models that resemble these young people.
Every single facilitator during the summer programme was an underrepresented person of colour.
We even had some of the young people say “I really enjoyed this workshop/talk because the facilitator spoke like me.”
I am lucky enough to build on education opportunities for young people in the UK and teach them coding skills. In Nigeria, some children don’t even have the opportunity to attend school.
Those that do, don’t have all of the right equipment and the textbook to pupil ratio is not good.
Through personal research, I noticed that young people in Nigeria – especially those in rural areas – do not have a sufficient level of education through no fault of their own, nor that of their families.
As a student, I did not have the means to completely correct or overhaul the system, but I knew that I could help out.”
Tolulope fundraises for her not-for-profit organisation Project Hezi, which in turn funds the purchase of more books to donate to schools in Nigeria.
In September 2018, Tolulope donated 350 Maths textbooks to year 7 (JSS 1) and year 8 (JSS 2) students of Ajara Community High School, in the city of Ibadan, Nigeria.
“Upon meeting the beneficiaries and their teachers, I was told by a teacher that they beg the students to go out and work in order to raise money to buy textbooks.
Work that could possibly endanger them and prevent them from studying.
I am very pleased that I was able to help those students for that academic year and also very appreciative of those who donated to support the cause.
During my address to the pupils, I stated that I would be paying the school fees of the top 20 performing students.
Which I did until recently when the newly elected governor of the state passed legislation to abolish school fees.
I am over the moon to hear that and I’m now deciding on how else to encourage these hard-working students.
In the future, I aim to continue making sure that everyone has access to an adequate education.”
Images Copyright – Tolulope Ogunremi, founder of Coders of Colour and Project Hezi.
This feature is part of our regular ‘Unfiltered Stories’ collection which highlights the impact young people are making in the society and how they are going beyond their comfort zone to achieve something.