For Boye Oshinaga, the ability to create and hold alternate realities not just in the novels he read extensively or the ones he wrote but also in the video games that he occupied himself with as a teenager, was one of a few things that sparked his interest in the field of science and technology.
There was also the smart classmate in his JSS1 class who often told his peers that they could stuff academic work into their brains through a robot to get grades as excellent as he did. And so when the time came to pick an undergraduate course of choice, his mind had already been made years earlier: Computer Science (combined with an Economics degree programme) at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, western Nigeria.
Oshinaga was also interested in business and ran a book leasing/sales service while in secondary school (later auctioning off the entire library after school), and putting the proceeds towards an undergraduate wardrobe makeover when the admission came.
“And then I had a passion for education,” Oshinaga says when he talks about trying to streamline the things that gave him a sense of purpose. Business, technology and writing were the other three.
The interest in education was borne out of personal observation. In some Nigerian secondary schools, an academic classification system employed by some schools groups students into classes based on their academic performances.
So, one class often ended up with the worst performers and the other, with the best performers in a given set of students. His school had somewhat of this practice in place. And although he excelled in Literature and English, he “usually ended up struggling to make the top ten, fifteen spots” under the new arrangement in his senior year.
“In my former class, I was coming in first place, and then I was coming in 11th,” Oshinaga recalls.
In trying to figure out why certain students performed better than others, he realised that students had academic strengths and weaknesses and there was always little competition in a student’s area of strengths.
Desirous of continuing a business as an undergraduate, Oshinaga decided he wanted to teach. But not within the walls of a classroom, and in a manner that could scale.
“I did not know the word scale at the time but I kind of figured that that’s not a very good way to spend 20 years,” he says.
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