Young, Gifted & Black Series
By Taki S. Raton
Our YG&B series has been blessed to share current exemplary writings featuring the most talented, smartest and gifted children, youth, and young adults of African descent both here in America and throughout the globe.
And this week’s profile is no exception.
Breanna Edwards in her February 24, 2015 posting in The Root notes of our exceptional preteen as “one of the United Kingdom’s youngest university students.”
She is young, gifted & Black. Esther Okade is already at the top of her class just after three weeks of attendance at UK’s Open University according to Edward.
Described by a February 28, 2015 World Star assessment as being “one of the world’s youngest college student,” the 10-year-old British-Nigerian applied to Open University in August of 2014 and was accepted into the college in December.
Classes began in early February and just after three weeks into the opening month, she had already scored testing percentages in the top tier of her class.
Esther earned a “B” grade on her Math A-Level exam prior to her August application.
A-Level exams according to descriptor accounts are traditionally administered to 18-year-olds and are usually taken by students who intend to engage a study track towards a university degree in mathematics.
Following a phone interview, an entrance exam and a formal essay in December, the 10-year-old was granted the green light to enroll in college.
“We even had to talk to the vice-chancellor,” says her mother, Omonefe Okade. “After they interviewed her, they realized that this has been her idea form the beginning.
From the age of seven, Esther has wanted to go to the university,” as quoted in a February 24, 2015 Metro posting by Nicolas Reilly. Her mother recalls that even at this early stage in her life, Esther was constantly asking, “Mum, when am I starting?”
This resounding question would, in Okade’s words, “go on and on and on.”
But finally after three years as noted in Reilly, Esther was convinced and in her astute confidence said to her mother, “Mum, I think it is about time I started university now!”
Okade herself is a mathematician and her husband, Paul, is a managing director.
And following in the prideful stride of his sister, her 6-year-old brother Isiah is already mastering calculus, advanced algebra and is studying for his A-Level GCSE.
As cited in ABC News on February 25, 2015, Esther previously made BBC headlines back in 2010 for receiving a “C” grade on her math GCSE, a test normally taken by 14 to 16-year-olds in England.
Our math whiz at the time was only 6-years-old.
A year later, as reported in the March 10, 2015 posting of Fox 43, she outperformed herself and earned the “A” grade that she wanted.
The GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) is a British band, Paul, is a managing director. And following in the prideful stride of his sister, her 6-year-old brother Isiah is already mastering calculus, advanced algebra and is studying for his A-Level GCSE. As cited in ABC News on February 25, 2015, Esther previously made BBC headlines back in 2010 for receiving a “C” grade on her math GCSE, a test normally taken by 14 to 16-year-olds in England. Our math whiz at the time was only 6-years-old. A year later, as reported in the March 10, 2015 posting of Fox 43, she outperformed herself and earned the “A” grade that she wanted. The GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) is a British high school qualification exam generally taken, as noted, by students much older. Isaiah is planning to take his first A-level exam this June.
Regarding her college career, Esther says that, “I want to finish in two years,” as quoted in her March 9, 2015 Inquisitor interview. “Then, I’m going to do my PhD in financial mathematics when I’m 13.
I want to have my own bank by the time I’m 15 because I like numbers and I like people and banking is a good way to help people,” she says.
The talented math genius further shares that, “I actually wanted to start when I was seven.
But my mum was like, ‘you’re too young, calm down.’”
The Okade’s have converted the living room of their three-bedroom house in England’s industrial town of Walsall, West Midlands into a classroom where she homeschools Esther and Isiah.
“I cannot tell you how happy and proud I am as a father, said dad Okade.
“The desire of every parent is to see their children exceed them and take the family name to greater heights and my children have done just that,” he explains in Reilly.
The Fox account sheds some light on the family’s decision to homeschool their children.
Initially, Esther’s parents had enrolled her in a private school, but after a few short weeks, mother Omonefe and father Paul began to notice changes in their normally vibrant and energetic girl-child.
“One day we were coming back home and she burst out in tears and she said, ‘I don’t want to go back to that school.
They don’t even let me talk.’” reveals her mother.
In the UK, as noted in the Fox post, a child does not have to start school until the age of five.
So from the age of three, Esther was homeschooled. By four, her natural aptitude for numbers surfaced and the eager student accelerated into algebra and quadratic equations.
By six, she was ready to take the GCSE.
Inspired perhaps by their children’s success, Paul and Omonefe are spearheading their own educational trail back to Nigeria.
Fox 43 reports that the couple have set up their own foundation and are in the process of building a nursery and primary school in Nigeria’s Delta region, the family’s native home.
Named, “Shakespeare’s Academy,” they hope to open the school’s doors in September of this year.
In addition to the core subjects of English, language arts, math and science, such offerings as morality, ethics, public speaking, entrepreneurship and etiquette will also be offered. The Okade’s are looking to emulate the teaching style and approaches that worked for their children rather than focusing on just one way of learning.
“Some children learn very well with kinetics where they learn with their hands. When they draw, they remember things,” says mother Omonefe in Fox. “Some children have extremely creative imaginations. Instead of trying to make children learn one way, you teach them based on their learning style,” she adds.
The vision is for Shakespeare’s Academy to build up to a capacity of 2,000 to 2,500 students with 30 percent of the pupils being local and attending under scholarship assistance.
“On one hand, billions of dollars’ worth of crude oil is pumped out from that region on a monthly bases and yet the poverty rate of the indigenous community is astronomical,” cites mother Omonefe.
Father Paul submits that the region, “has a poor quality of nursery and primary education.
So by the time the children get secondary education, they haven’t got a clue.
They haven’t developed their core skills.”
He shares that, “The school is designed to give children an aim so they can study for something, not just for the sake of acquiring certification.