A Nigerian teacher, Soji Megbowon, who teaches Mathematics and Computer Science at Jakande Comprehensive Senior College, Abesan, Lagos, is among the 50 teachers worldwide vying for the Global Teacher Prize of $1million.
Megbowon’s nomination as a finalist was announced by the Varkey Foundation on Thursday, which said it scoured the four corners of the world to pick the finalists.
There were over 10,000 nominations from 179 countries, out of which 50 finalists were selected from 39 countries.
The prize in its fifth year is awarded to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.
“Our top 50 finalists include teachers developing peace-building skills and advocates for inclusivity to teachers changing curriculum’s in their countries and integrating migrants into classrooms – they are all champions for change and are inspiring students and communities around them”, the foundation said.
There were eight other finalists from Africa, with Kenya’s Maina Gioko, from Aga Khan Academy in Mombassa and Peter Tabichi from Keriko Secondary School in Nakuru, taking two slots.
Other African teachers in the race are Assane Ndiaye from Senegal, Chifuniro M’manga Kamwendo(Malawi), James Linville(Somalia), Robert Gbari Gariba(Ghana) and the only woman Thejane Malakane from Maseru, Lesotho.
Megbowon, from Ondo State, apart from teaching in the state school in Lagos, runs a non-for-profit enterprise and is a social innovator in edutech.
He became a Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneur in 2016, with his Calculus EduAIDS, which he founded in 2015, to research and develop inclusive curriculum-based educational aids that bridge the learning gaps created by large class sizes.
With help from the foundation, he also developed TEENPRENEURS HUB, a leadership incubation, STEM education and entrepreneurship centre that trains and empower teenagers and other young people from his host community – Abesan, Lagos, Nigeria, to become transformational leaders and solution providers through our holistic education mode.
Through his classroom practices and the introduction of curriculum-based learning aids, he has recorded and maintained a 20% improvement in academic performance in the past two years. Over 50 students from other schools who have attended his organised student leadership programme are now leaders in their respective institutions.
In 2017, Megbowon was one of the local trainers selected for AFRICA CODE week to train over 500 teachers in Ondo State. He has also received the Lagos State Education District commendation, the Creative and Innovative Teacher award, and a commendation from the Vice-President of Nigeria.
If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, Megbowon said he would use 30% of the funds to acquire equipment to distribute 30,000 free copies of his curriculum-based learning aids; 40% would be used to distribute 15,000 free copies of his newly invented “letters and digits” board games that teach literacy and numeracy; and 30% would be used to start a mobile technology hub to bridge technology gaps affecting people in rural and underserved communities.