A survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in December 2018 indicated that the population of out of school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million, the highest rise in the world for a single country. Most of the children are out of school while some have never been to school. It is against this backdrop that Los Angeles teenage film maker and girls education advocate, Zuriel Oduwole just met with the Governor of Lagos State in Nigeria, H.E. Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the capital city of Lagos.
Accompanied by volunteer members of her DUSUSU [Dream Up Speak Up Stand Up] Foundation, Zuriel shared with the Governor her simple ideas that would allow more children an opportunity of an education and skill acquisition, especially non traditional education such as creative arts, for todays digital world.
“I know if you asked people in the past, they all wanted their children to be doctors, lawyers, and engineers, but today, there are many things that can be done very quickly, without going to a formal classroom’, she explained to Lagos State house media correspondents”. Like the powerful position California occupies in the US, if Lagos State were a country, it would be the 5th largest economy in Africa, after economic giants South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria. So, the meeting was quite symbolic.
Zuriel delivered a pilot basic film class project in Namibia in February 2016 at the age of thirteen, to 25 unemployed youths and also girls who had aged out of traditional school. Exactly 9 months after that pilot project class, a student from the class had created her own 45 minute documentary using a borrowed camera, and was shopping it around to a local TV station in Windhoek, the Namibian capital city.
Asked why she thought the pilot project was such a success, Zuriel answer was simple ad direct. First, their teacher was a 13 year old girl, a little younger than most of them, I looked like them, spoke their millennial language, and to them it was not a class – rather we were all having fun. Those are some reasons why I think it worked”
On January 6th 2017 at the age of 14, Zuriel was formally honored by then US Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department in Washington DC. It was for her global work in support of girls education, an issue the state department enunciated greatly under Secretary Hillary Clinton, and further championed by Secretary Kerry. Many in the international diplomatic community believe that this mandarin speaking California teen, who has now personally met with 31 world leaders [Presidents and Prime Ministers] in line with her advocacy work, could one day become the youngest UN Secretary General. Those she has met one-on-one with include the leaders of Ghana, Jamaica, Croatia, Kenya, Nigeria, Fiji, and dozens more.