Education for All – Hakeem Subair

Hakeem was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. He did not set out to be an entrepreneur and never really thought about teaching either. In fact, very few people in his community did. Growing up, he regularly heard that teaching was not a respectable profession because teachers never have money and, therefore, he never considered a career in teaching. He was told that he was a smart kid with a bright future who should not waste his time becoming a teacher. So, after graduating from university, he began a career in banking in Lagos.

All of that changed when Hakeem became a parent. In 2008, Hakeem and his wife, Olajumoke Subair, were looking for an appropriate place to leave their daughter, Nadrah, while they were at work. Subair worked for a bank at the time, and his wife was a busy doctor who was often on call.

They were not satisfied with what they found available to them in terms of schools and day cares where they lived in Nigeria. So, they decided to open their own school.

What started with a handful of friends’ children quickly blossomed into a 192-student enterprise. The school, Tiny Tots Osogbo, was thriving except for one major challenge: finding good quality teachers.

Hakeem and his family moved to Canada in 2012 under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (now called the Express Entry) and later pursued a Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree at Queen’s University, where he also acquired a Certificate in Social Impact from the Centre for Social Impact. This was the time the challenged they faced while running Tiny Tots Osogbo school in Nigeria started informing the creation of 1 Million Teachers (1MT).

Hakeem is passionate about applying business principles to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our planet. A passion that grew out of providing more than just financing to businesses, but giving them the tools to enhance their success. A passion that led to him becoming the co-founder and CEO of 1MT.

So what is 1MT?

1MT aims to close the shortage of quality teachers gap by attracting new teachers into the profession, training both the new and existing teachers, and motivating them to keep improving their performance through a comprehensive reward based development program that combines high quality online and classroom based training with mentorship on a scale never attempted before. The web-based component incorporates gamification best practices that engages participants and motivates them to keep learning. We are leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to create bespoke training for teachers on a large scale.

1MT has over 10 different partners both in Canada and overseas. In Canada, Queen’s University is their leading partners. But outside Canada, 1MT has partnered with Hewett Packard (HP), Girl Rising, Injini, Azoneta, University of Abidjan, EDVES, TeachUNITED, NECT and many more other partners.

Hakeem says that 1MT is always working to collaborate to find unique solutions to professional development. “For example, On October 15, 2022; Girl Rising, HP, and 1 Million Teachers hosted an official partnership launch event in Abuja, Nigeria to mark the official launch of the program called Mentor-a-Teacher. Under this program, HP employees (mentors) are matched with local teachers participating in 1 Million Teachers’ Black Belt program (mentees) to help mentor teachers to become the best they can.” This is the kind of work that we do and are always happy to make such contribution to our communities.