My name is Peter Ayeni from Abuja, Nigeria a Fellow of The Do School Berlin I am developing Mbele a platform that is poised to revolutionize the Educational sector in Nigeria, by making Learning fun and Rewarding for all and this is My Story:
On the 12th of June 1998, an event occurred that shook the whole of my existence and everything I called beauty disappeared before my own eyes. I was on the assembly ground, a 9-year-old when I got the news two of my siblings were involved in a car accident that claimed their lives. This was hard for our single mother to get over with and her business collapsed and it became terribly difficult for us to earn a living. I had to withdraw from private school to a public school because she can’t afford my school fee any longer. I lost every hope of a great future ahead, no aspirations I just want to survive at the very least. I did a whole lot of stuff, from hawking to be a house boy. I can’t start to state the different kinds of Menial jobs my mum had to do for us to get by, maybe that will be a story for some other time.
I literally only showed up during my junior year in high school, which made up for the decline in my academic performance. I remember at a time I had to forge my own report card because my mum knew me to be a high-performance kid and she had bet to give in anything she could to give us an education even at the basic minimal she could afford. Because she never had the opportunity herself.
During this darkest seasons of my life, something happened that changed my life forever. It was the last day of school and I got my horrible report card as usual kept it in my inner pocket ready to go home and enjoy another circle of holiday, as I was walking past the hallway I saw a group of seniors gathered around a tall fair looking guy with a uniquely clean uniform, I was always dirty you could guess; I played my heart out to make up for my emptiness. I was going to see what’s so interesting about him that attracted such crowd and admiration, I moved closer and peeped it was his report card they were all discussing he got 9 straight A’s. I have never seen a report card so blue and beautiful, my results were always red term in and term out. And a bright light shined through my darkest mind if he can do it I can do it also.
I went back home that day inspired and ready to give it all I can to be the best student I can be. In the midst of the troubles, poverty and seeing my mother struggle all I have to do is read and this gave me a renewed hope, dream and aspiration now I wanted to become a doctor, take my family out of poverty and impact as many lives as I can. I found a coach Mr Koiku a brilliant senior student who put me through my studies and challenged me to be better. I started teaching other students and also coach my peers. We formed a reading club and I went from being a failure to become an inspiration to my peers; and represent my School and State in National Biology, Mathematics and Junior Science Olympiad.
In 2006 after my high school I discovered the power of a PC as someone who has cultivated the culture of reading I read everything I found on computing, I thought myself Graphics, Web design and Programming. As I became more passionate about computing my desire to help others became more obvious, using technology to solve problems around me I worked with private organizations, start-ups as a freelancer, volunteered with nonprofit organizations, teach evening class on web design and started a group Young Developers Network in 2009 to help undergraduate understand emerging technologies. Before moving on to get an associate degree in computing and a degree in IT Security, I got a job with one of the biggest printing press in Nigeria and ‘it’s like I have everything I ever wished for more than this:
In 2015 I started having this strong feeling of emptiness and lack of satisfaction. A feeling that I can do more, that I can touch more lives and make a real impact; than staying in my comfort zone and enjoying my comfortable salary. I resigned my job just 3 months to my wedding it was the ‘riskiest’ decision I have ever made in my life. I joined the development sector also started Rhoda.Co a Civic-Tech Organization that helps Government, NGO and Individuals put technology to work.
I started searching for problems areas and how I can use technology to solve some of the daunting problem facing us as a Nation in 2016 I launched OpenHealth Nigeria with Dr Gbemisola a platform that is using Technology & OpenData for Quality, Personalised and Accessible Health Care for all.
I kept on researching the problems in the Education Sector which is an area I am most passionate about and I found some of these insights:
The shocking and sad truth is that readership has been declining over the last couple of years. Young people just aren’t reading much to the detriment of scholarship in the society Today reading culture is gradually dying down with its consequences showing clearly in the falling standard of education. In a study carried out in 2011, it was shown that 40 percent of adult Nigerians never read a nonfiction book from cover to cover after they finish school according to a report.
The education sector has been my area of interest, and the problem is massive that I don’t know where to start, with so many organizations and startups trying to tackle this problem in a way they can and this monster still steers us all in the face. As I researched problems in the education sector and my interaction with young people I found the declining reading culture and out of school children is one huge challenge that needs an urgent intervention.
There is an urgent need for us to save our collapsing educational sector, reignite reading culture among the youth, provide inclusive and continuous learning opportunities for all. This will increase graduate employability, raise crops of informed citizens who know their right and can become a good citizen, foster new innovations that will solve problems in other sectors, reduce poverty, create jobs and sound knowledge transfer to the next generation.
I believe technology can be employed to solve this daunting problem and on a large scale that will benefit millions of Nigerian youths and the Nation as a whole that is why I am developing Mbele a platform that makes learning fun, accessible and rewarding for all.
Mbele started as a tiny idea I had in April after working on several ideas, and I decided to give this a try, I reluctantly submitted it for the Union Bank Centenary Innovation Challenge on the last day of the application deadline and won the 2nd Runner up with a prize of 1million Naira, I also won a spot in the prestigious Do School Fellowship to be part of 20 Social Innovators from around the globe to work on the Future of Audio Entertainment Challenge and at the same time develop their own venture.
I am in Berlin, working on an Idea that will shape the future of learning in my country, Africa and the World because I gave it a try.