Meet Tariq Lawal, LearningPlanet Youth Fellow, and hear about his most recent speaking engagement at the Out of School Children Summit. 

What is the Out of School Children Summit? 

The summit is a response to the increasing need to create national awareness about the menace of out-of-school children in Nigeria, it was hosted by IA-Foundation. According to UNESCO, Nigeria has 20.2 million children out of school, which is 10 percent of the country’s population. Despite the combined efforts of the Nigerian government, international development partners, and key stakeholders in the education sector to tackle the pervasive issue of out of school children in Nigeria, the country is still yet to find solutions to this challenge.

Tariq Lawal and Tunde Onakoya.

The summit was attended by government officials, philanthropists, school owners, corporations with corporate social responsibility in education, nonprofits and other key stakeholders.

What was your experience like at the summit?

It was fantastic, I learned a lot from the panelists that spoke at the summit. They were all able to share ideas and suggestions on ways to solve this out-of-school children crisis. I sang a beautiful Yoruba song about the importance of education and a lot of people absolutely loved it.

I also got to meet esteemed individuals at the summit, making it a truly memorable event for me.

One of the amazing people I got to meet was Femi Falana, a renowned activist and human rights lawyer, who also happens to be the father of Falz, my favorite Nigerian rapper. He complimented my Yoruba poem which really made my day and I still can’t believe I didn’t ask him to tell Falz how much I love his music. Anyway, I left the summit with a stronger passion to advocate for quality education for every Nigerian child regardless of their background. 

What do you wish the summit could have done better?

I wish there were better inclusion of young people at the summit. There are numerous young people with innovative ideas capable of addressing these issues, yet they rarely have the opportunity to amplify their voices. One aspect I admire about myself is that when I don’t see a representation of my age demographic in a particular space, I am determined to be the first to break through those barriers.

There is an immense sense of joy in being the first who ever did. I firmly believe that young people should play a more prominent role in these discussions. It would be wonderful to witness greater youth engagement in conversations about these critical social issues.

Nevertheless, I am incredibly grateful to the IA-Foundation for granting me the privilege of participating in this summit.

Meet Tariq Lawal

Tariq Lawal is a seventeen-year-old writer, poet, changemaker, and creative from Lagos, Nigeria. He has a deep passion for graphic design, writing fiction and exploring all that is possible. He firmly believes that art possesses the transformative power to bring about positive change in society. Tariq’s artistic journey began at a young age, as he discovered his love for storytelling and self-expression through various mediums.

Whether it be crafting intricate narratives through his fiction writing or painting vivid imagery with his poetry, Tariq’s creativity knows no bounds. However, Tariq’s identity cannot be confined to these artistic endeavors alone. He is a multifaceted individual, constantly evolving and growing. With an insatiable thirst for knowledge, he is always seeking out new avenues for personal growth and learning.

Tariq Lawal’s curiosity leads him to explore diverse fields, expanding his horizons beyond the realms of art. Beyond his creative pursuits, Tariq is also a changemaker, driven by a desire to make a positive impact on the world around him. He recognizes the potential for art to act as a catalyst for change, and he uses his platform to advocate for issues close to his heart.

He is a World Literacy Foundation youth ambassador, the founder of Thrilling and Blue Alien, a The Climate Initiative ambassador, a LearningPlanet Youth Fellow, a member of the Youth Constituency for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an Orius Fellow, a publications officer for Global Mental Health Outreach, a monthly contributor for Log Off Movement’s The Network, assisting director for Afghan Girls Success Gate and an intern at Wema Bank’s Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility Department.

He is also a member of Amnesty International, YouthXYouth, Unite 2030, Global Mental Health Action Network, Major Group for Children and Youth, and World Youth Alliance. He also volunteers as a graphic designer with youth-led organizations like BrainX Academia, The Humanities Archive, Kickstart Change, OneUpAction International and Statice Health International.

Furthur reading:

Tackling menace of out-of-school children in Nigeria

Group proffers solutions to education crisis