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Sustainability Educator from Abuja Promotes Well-being
In this issue, Dr. Green Economy speaks to Mujidah Ajibola about her Circular Economy projects and her vision to bring the field of sustainability to wider communities.
Mujidah Ajibola is a sustainability educator based in Abuja, Nigeria and the founder of The Sustainability Hub.
She is an avid volunteer who loves the world where everyone lives a life of dignity and well-being. Mujidah has a Master's in Education for Sustainability from the London South Bank University, United Kingdom.
Q. Can you tell us briefly about your work?
A. I used to work in the finance sector and only understood an environment in terms of my surroundings. My decision to change my career field into sustainability came along after I saw my son suffering from air pollution.
That triggered me to think differently about the environment. Then I started volunteering with the environment and climate change-focused organizations that allowed me to get involved in projects related to the land, air, and water around me.
After receiving a Commonwealth Scholarship, I went to the UK to do my post-graduate in Education for Sustainability, after which I started The Sustainability Hub.
It is a social enterprise, committed to teaching, inspiring, leading, and supporting individuals, businesses, and communities to be environmentally responsive and socially inclusive in their operations. I still volunteer with organizations in and outside Nigeria.
Q. Can you explain your services?
A. We initially started educating businesses to transit into low-carbon and resource-smart operations, but we pivoted to working with schools in late 2020.
Since then, we are focusing on working to integrate sustainability, circular economy, and global citizenship into education systems.
We design educational programs and develop educational resources by integrating sustainability, the environment, circular economy, climate change, biodiversity, and global citizenship education.
Likewise, we are piloting the first sustainable school initiative in Nigeria, which aims to use the old school approach to sustainability in terms of governance, curriculum, teaching, and learning operations.
We hope that the things we learn from this project will be helpful as we scale the project to other places. Our programmes include:
Climate Literacy and Action Project (CLAP): CLAP empowers teachers with the knowledge of climate change and effective pedagogies for teaching climate change, simplifies climate change education concepts for students using innovative and exciting approaches, and equips students to take positive climate action in their communities.
Education for Circular Economy: We educate schools, communities, and businesses on the advantages of the circular economy and how they can adopt its principles to their benefit. The program teaches the elements of circular economy as a way to mitigate the climate crisis.
Sustainable Schools: This initiative employs the circular economy principles in establishing sustainable schools across the four major areas of governance, operations, curriculum teaching & learning, and infrastructure.
Teacher Training: Facilitating professional development programs integrating sustainability and circular economy in teaching, irrespective of the subject. We also train teachers on gender-responsive education, climate literacy, and sustainability education.
Q. What do you want to solve with your services?
A. We are working towards transformational education tailored to the learners’ immediate environment, which empowers them to become a force in sustainable production and consumption with a strong focus on regenerating natural resources.
We are poised to equip learners with the values and skills that can help them become sustainability champions to provide solutions to problems facing contemporary problems on a local and global scale.
Q. What is circular economy's importance in helping us achieve net-zero goals?
A. The linear economy that follows the take-make-waste system is increasingly causing environmental and climate disasters while widening socio-economic inequalities.
The circular economy advocates for a world without waste and pollution as much as possible. When we embrace the circular economy, we not only begin to have a net-zero, but also have a net positive impact on the environment and climate.
The circular economy provides a holistic solution to these issues by incorporating the environment and society as well as economic perspectives, particularly important for developing countries, such as Nigeria, which have a considerable amount of people living below the poverty line.
Q. What are the challenges of being an Entrepreneur?
A. The first challenge I faced was communicating the advantages of circular economy as integral values for every individual, business, or community. As most businesses are trying to keep their head above water, many do not prioritize accelerating toward the circular economy.
The dominant belief is that sustainability is an add-on luxury to thriving businesses, without knowing it can help them reach their profit target even earlier than expected.
Another challenge has been getting to work with schools. To work with schools, we need to have a large presence, and sometimes getting approval can be quite challenging.
Also, many profit-based schools do not see sustainability and circular economy initiatives as something to invest in because it's not the focus of most Nigerian parents. They prefer their children to excel in mathematics and general academics, and that automatically becomes the focus of schools, too.
This can be much better if climate and sustainability education is mainstreamed into the Nigerian education policy.
Q. Your tips for growing an organization?
A. The first thing I would advise entrepreneurs is to understand their purpose because even with knowing one’s purpose, the business itself can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming.
Also, many entrepreneurs give up easily because they are obsessed with instant gratification. We should understand that there is a phase of our businesses where we build, and until the building is firmly in place, we may not start reaping benefits.
Communication and transparency are key, and because entrepreneurs are busy doing the actual work, there is hardly enough time to showcase the work. This is also something I've been struggling with myself. I hope that things get better from now on.
Lastly, human resources are the heart of every business. Getting people who share the same vision as the entrepreneur can drive the business, especially in the early days. Entrepreneurs can also join social networks that provide a community of support to help grow their work.
Q. What are your plans in next 5 years?
A. I hope to be able to develop educational resources on the circular economy, climate change and sustainability adapted to the Nigerian, and by extension, African classrooms.
I also hope to scale up our circular economy education programs as we continue engaging policymakers to mainstream education for sustainability in the National Curriculum.
Note - Green Entrepreneurs are those, whose businesses are working towards reducing environmental impact by adopting the principles of the circular economy. They are featured once a month in this newsletter. If you want to be featured in one of the issues, email us at email@example.com.
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