YRK Award Recipient – Ms. Oluwatosin Taiwo
CHAMPIONING THE CAUSE OF THE NIGERIAN CHILD
Ms. Oluwatosin Taiwo was inspired to begin her humanitarian work when she was posted to Kogi state for her National Youth service in 2006 and saw the plight of young children in that area; in that period, she embarked on educational projects to give underprivileged children in the state, a chance at education.
Along with the help of the wife of the Governor of the state, she got involved in projects and initiatives which were aimed at empowering physically challenged students in the state. She also embarked on various school support projects across public schools in the state which earned her the award of overall best Corps member in Kogi state for the 2017 set.
She returned to Lagos state and worked in the corporate world for a few years before resigning to venture into humanitarian work, full time. She began to reach out to students in order to empower them in any way she saw fit, provide encouragement and mentorship.
In 2009, Tosin was inspired to act, by the astonishing statistics of 10.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria. A stunning world record; Tosin therefore founded Street to School Initiative to help support the education programs of children in underserved areas and also to help career progression of high school students in rural communities, by pairing students with young professionals and matured adults for school-based mentoring program.
In 2015, as an intervention program, Tosin established a tuition-free, not-for-profit primary school strictly for out-of-school, street children and primary school drop outs in IKOLA community in Lagos, a community where accessibility to government owned school is poor. Currently, 14 previously out of school, street children, have graduated and are in high school, with over 100 children, in the school.
Since inception of Street to School Initiative, 19 low cost schools, with over 16,488 children have benefitted from her annual School Support Program which involves donation of basic educational items such as notebooks, textbooks, school bags, sandals, educational toys, stationary etc. 258 less privileged students have been registered freely for the GCE/WAEC examination and more than 200 previously out of school children have been supported back to school.
In true Yemisi-Ransome-Kuti fashion, Oluwatosin Taiwo personally champions the daily operations of a free-schooling programme for underprivileged children; along with volunteers, family and friends, hits the streets in search of children who are out of school to enroll in school, provide learning facilities and occasionally feeds the children when funding permits.
Despite facing challenges of funding, lack of support from government and unfavorable economic situation of the country, Oluwatosin Taiwo noted that she is resilient in her fight for education-recognition and alleviation of the suffering of the Nigerian child.
She displays dogged determination which is reminiscent of Ms. Yemisi Ransome-Kuti’s courage in the face of injustice and underdevelopment. She is undefeated in her fight to expand her radical ideas on bringing education to the doorstep of every child in every community across Nigeria.