My journey from activism to the classroom —Afolabi-Ogunyeye

My journey from activism to the classroom —Afolabi-Ogunyeye

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Adebukola Afolabi- Ogunyeye, an educator, author and child rights activist who has won an international humanitarian service award for protecting children through her NGO; MORNA International Children’s Foundation (MICF), is the head of the management team of WIN-RITES Montessori School. In this interview with YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE, she speaks on what propelled her from full activism into school management, how she balances her passion and other issues. Excerpts:

How did you move from active activism to school management?

Under Morna International children’s foundation, a registered non-governmental organisation, we campaign for the rights of the girl-child, we campaign against child abuse, we advocate quality education, all of which are parts of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. We have specific initiatives; the girl child matters and 10 million boys against violence, which we have taken to over 300 primary and secondary schools within Lagos State.


On moving from active activism to the education sector fully, I would say it is a calling which was taken as an opportunity to impact. You know talk is cheap; it is easy to chant ‘give children quality education’ but what would you do differently if you are in that sector as an activist? 

Everything I do is centred on child care, education and empowerment sensitisation for people. As the chairperson in the management team of WIN-RITES Montessori School, a multiple award winning school, I utilise my skills as an author, educator and seasoned child rights activist for the betterment of the children. Also, as an advocate for gender equality trained by the National Advocacy Center, Huntsville USA, l am saddled with the duty of disseminating some of its programmes on child abuse and I have used this to impact thousands of children.


Has this in anyway affected your activism work?

It is double work; the education sector is a different one entirely with a lot of challenges and lot of rot in the sector, which requires focus and dedication. Education is about the life and future of a child. It is a very sensitive sector that one has to become a burden bearer. It requires more than passion. You have to be compassionate too.  You will see glaringly that some children are lagging behind their peers. Passion only cannot cut it. This is where compassion towards the future of such a child comes in.


How does it feel managing children?

Managing children is a cause on its own. Children live with varying needs, ranging from psychological need to social need, emotional need and financial need. Also there are children’s special needs because they are all are part of the world.

I will however say that working with children is a herculean task. You have to be responsible. You must remember that you are a translational parent to children.


Many school complain about parents making their job difficult, is this something you have faced?

This is correct. There is a generational gap that is now affecting the smooth operation of things for schools. The method of handling children in the past can no longer be used now even though there are still a lot of methods in the past that are still effective now.  However, in all, every school should be able to reach equilibrium between parents and the school.


How do you balance your life as an activist so it doesn’t affect your role as a school manager?

Activism can be done while in the classrooms, but I still go out to speak at events on the various initiatives I stand for. And I am still as committed as I was to all my activism work.


There are many advocacy messages targeted at children, how do you pass this without it getting too much for children?

Luckily, in the education sector, there are some subjects and topics that have been incorporated in the scheme of work, which makes it easier for children to be educated on such topics and empowered too.  For instance, there are subjects like social studies, civic education and security education that bother on issues in society such as gender discrimination, rape, child abuse, violence against women and children, healthy boy and girl relationship and so on.  Apparently, every child at either primary or secondary school level would not be a novice on issues relating to their body safety or their rights.


Have you ever been recognised in your activism work at any time?

Yes, I have won an award for my advocacy work and I’ve also been recognised in the education sector.

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