Bodunrin Akinrinmade: In My Own Words

September 20, 2022

Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards Feature on Bodunrin

When I was in high school, I dreamt of becoming a chartered accountant. However, rather than being accepted into the Department of Accounting at the university, I was accepted into the Department of Educational Management. Initially, I did not like this field of study, but after my sophomore year, I fell in love with it. During my undergraduate studies at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria, I read about the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), now the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 2 of the MDGs discussed the exigent need for children around the world, especially in developing nations, to have access to quality basic education and acquire basic skills necessary for work and life. This inspired me to embark on a project which involved providing learning materials for pupils and giving prizes to pupils with excellent academic performance. The positive impact of this project on students, coupled with the smiles on their faces, remains one of the most fulfilling achievements for me.

Further, I was inspired to embark on a master’s degree program in Educational Management, with a specialization in Economics of Education. I wanted to acquire more knowledge about policies and programs that could be implemented to enhance the quality of basic education around the world, especially in developing nations. Upon graduation, I applied for and was accepted into a Ph.D. program in Education Policy and Evaluation with a special focus on improving educational access, learning outcomes, and school completion rates of children in developing countries. I had the rare opportunity to get a graduate research assistant position at LSI to work with the research faculty. Working at LSI to develop and implement innovative learning solutions in the United States and the entire world has been a significant achievement for me.

My proudest professional moment at LSI was when I was given the first opportunity to present an empirical study which we wrote with faculty fellows at Bayero University at the African Studies Association conference. I can remember the joy on my face when I told the audience at the conference that USAID sponsored the study I presented at the end of my presentation. That moment was surreal to me.

The positive impacts of the projects I have worked on with the LSI faculty are very evident. For example, we implemented the Northern Education Initiative Plus (NEI+) project in Bauchi and Sokoto States in northern Nigeria. In this project, we established Non-Formal Learning Centers (NFLCs) through local partnerships to provide thousands of out-of-school children with nine months of basic literacy and numeracy instruction before mainstreaming them into formal schooling. After implementing the project, our study showed that the NFLC-mainstreamed pupils read at the same levels as their formally schooled peers. Even though the reading outcomes of all the pupils in the study were low, we believe our project had a positive impact because the out-of-school children that were mainstreamed to formal schooling were at the same reading levels as their formal schooled mates, despite having had disruptions to their education.

I have learned that the world could become a better place if we invest adequately in education.