Interviews The First Class Diary

First Class Diary: 3Cs You Shouldn’t Joke With as Students- TA

Written by Abigael Ibikunle

3Cs You Shouldn’t Joke With as Students!

Bonjour my readers! Yes, it’s a beautiful Monday. Happy new month to you all! Your feedbacks have been amazing.

Thanks for always joining in every Monday. You make me always want to keep doing this! Merci!

It is most students’ dream to finish with a first class. But do you know the 3Cs you shouldn’t joke with as a student if you want to graduate with a first class?

Why don’t you find out in this interview with our scholar for today!

Tolulope Adeliyi is the founder of Emmanuel Mathematics Foundation. Amazing right?

In this interview with Tolulope, he shared so many deep things. He also talked about how his passion drove him to start his foundation.

In his words,

Your ability to defend yourself as a first-class graduate is what offers the advantage and not just the ‘decimal figure’.


Abigael Ibikunle of Edugist: Please share with Edugist, a little about your background.


Tolulope Adeliyi

Tolulope Adeliyi: My name is Tolulope Emmanuel Adeliyi. I hailed from Ogun state in Nigeria.

In the year 2017, I graduated from the prestigious university of Lagos, Nigeria, with first-class honours in mathematics and education.

I am the founder of Emmanuel Mathematics Foundation, Nigeria. A non-governmental organization with a vision to tackle the direct and remote causes of poor performance.

Also, to checkmate failure in mathematics among high school and college students.


AI: Was there any motivating factor(s) that influenced your choice of discipline and institution?

TA: Yeah, mathematics was actually my favorite subject when I was in high school. From my childhood, I have been an ardent follower and close admirer of Pastor (Dr) W.F Kumuyi, a first-class mathematics don from the university of Ibadan.

His testimony about how he made a first class in mathematics inspired me. The analytical and problem-solving skills, displayed by him in his presentations, also influenced my choice to be a mathematician.

But ultimately, I can say that, it was the will of God for me to study mathematics in school, and specifically at the university of Lagos.


AI: There are two major skills that every student must possess: COMPETENCE and PERFORMANCE. While competence revolves around skill acquisition, performance is much more concerned about skills application. It is believed that most graduates are competent because their academic performance testifies to this, but they are performance-challenged. This poor performance ipso facto hinders them from getting lucrative jobs in the labour market. What can you say about this assertion?

TA: Well, I think this lapse is as a result of the way our educational system is structured. Our educational system is really not designed to prepare students for the outside world. So, we are mostly taken through theories that are only good for the brain.

Also, we discover that only the cognitive aspect of learning is largely focused on. For a child to be successfully educated, he must have had a complete change in cognitive behavior, affective behavior, as well as in psychomotor behavior.

It is largely unfortunate that students are being taken through four to six years of cognitive development. Yet, no attention is paid to the other important aspect of learning. Attention and emphasis are only placed on exams, assignments, tests, and grades!

Basically, we see students go through-what I call the vicious circle of attending lectures (which is very good), cram, pour, and forget! For goodness sake, what more do you expect from someone who has gone through this circle for four to six years of his or her life on campus?

So, upon graduation, fitting into the market becomes very difficult. Obviously, he or she was never exposed to the nitty-gritty of how the world of work, works! This, therefore, calls for a paradigm shift in the way programs are being run in our various institutions.

The higher education curriculum must be revisited, reviewed, and restructured. Whatever course any student will study, it must successfully and aggressively prepare him or her for efficient performance in the various work industries.


AI: What do you think is responsible for competence without performance? Please suggest ways of improving the performance level of university students and graduates

TA: In addition to what I said earlier, every student must know that negligence, ignorance, and laziness must not be entertained in his or her life, especially in this 21st century.

If there is no structure in place yet, to prepare you for optimum performance, outside the four walls of the higher institution you find yourself in, then you must take the bull by the horn.

Discover what the world of work demands from the field you have chosen to walk in. Tailor your personal development in preparation for it.


Tolulope Adeliyi

Never spend your years at the university accumulating grades upon grades in ignorance and remain completely bankrupt in what will make you perform after graduation.


AI: Achievement in life transcends one’s personal efforts. There were people who, during your programme, rendered some assistance that made your dreams a reality. Who are specific persons whose contribution you can’t forget in your first-class feat?

TA: Yeah! You are very correct! I did not get a first-class by my personal effort alone. Indeed, I had people who contributed immensely and tirelessly towards my success.

However, the issue is that these people (mentors, relatives, colleagues, and friends) are quite many. And I may not be able to mention them all within the space of this interview.

But, specifically, I cannot forget the contribution of my parents and siblings. Their financial contributions and encouragements were really of great help to me during those moments.

I would also want to recognize Dr. Adeneye Awofala, a highly dedicated and committed lecturer in my department. He was (and he is still) a father and an adviser. I can boldly say that university of Lagos is greatly privileged to have him.

Thirdly, Dr. Oluwatoyin Popoola, my campus pastor. Working with him built in me, the act of being resilience and never taking any task as impossible to execute. These qualities were of great help towards getting a first-class grade.

Fourthly, Miss Osadare Blessing. She was actually a level higher than me back in the university. She selflessly and generously assisted me with academic materials. As well as giving me firsthand information about what to expect in every new semester I am about to go into.

Finally, my district pastor, Pastor Idowu Olatona. Anytime I was home for break, he would always pray for me. He challenged me to never settle for anything lower than a first-class. Of a truth, “in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.”


AI: As a first-class graduate, are you currently gainfully employed?

TA: I cannot say I am currently gainfully employed. This is because, my aspiration from childhood has been to work within the walls of the university as a distinguished mathematics lecturer.

To impact the lives of students positively for global influence. Thereby, making and contributing to researches that provide solutions to problems in the industry. As well as taking leadership post in government, industries and enterprises, so far it will advance humanity.

So, the moment my dream is fulfilled, then I can categorically consider myself as ‘gainfully employed’. Nevertheless, I never allowed this to hold me back from giving back to my community.

As I mentioned in the introductory part of this interview, I started Emmanuel Mathematics Foundation in the year 2018. This goes with the aim of empowering students across secondary and tertiary institution. To help them overcome the fear for mathematics.


Tolulope Adeliyi, Founder, EMF, Nigeria


Our vision is to “raise generations of students with zero tolerance for fear of mathematics.”

We do our best to feed students with the information they need to easily learn, study, and perform excellently well in mathematics. This gives me joy daily. So far, I direct and manage this organization of not less than 15 supportive volunteers.

As a matter of fact, we have successfully organized five onsite mathematics seminars to secondary school students in Nigeria. This has in turn benefited close to 1800 students. And six online mathematics seminars, which have benefitted close to 1500 students.

Moreover, in our little way, we have also helped to mobilize donation of learning materials to low-resource public schools in different communities. Presently, we are working on how to support student that lack financial capacity.

At least, five students interested in studying mathematics in the university will be supported, starting from the year 2021.

This is our way of encouraging students to embrace mathematics. As  mathematics an indispensable tool for development in any sector of work.

We are out on a mission of raising generations of students with zero tolerance for fear of mathematics. And until we achieve our goal, we will not quit!


AI: Do you think your grade have or is giving you any major advantage over other graduates with lesser grades?

TA: Well, the world is completely different now. Beyond the grade, it is about what skills or value one has to offer. That is really what puts one at an advantage over those with lesser grade.

Yeah, I can say that the grade has opened quite a number of doors of opportunities for me. But, what keeps me in there, are the skills and value I have to offer.

The expectations from people are kind of high. People want to see you deliver a commensurate knowledge and skill as the grade you claim to have.

So, your ability to defend yourself as a first-class graduate is the main thing that offers the advantage and not just the ‘decimal figure’.


AI: For students who aspire to graduate with outstanding grade like yours, what would you advise them?

TA: If you can dream it, then, you can achieve it. Anyone can have a first-class irrespective of gender, class, race, religion, or background. That’s my belief!

But complete dedication, constant discipline, concentrated focus, charming resilience and consistency are what should characterize the life of whosoever aspire to have a first-class.

However, beyond the grade, get Competence, Character, and Courage.

The world outside the campus walls is beyond the grade acquired. Therefore, I will advise anyone who aspires to have a first-class to strive to have these three things in his or her life before graduation.

There will always be thousands of first-class graduates with the same, lower, or higher ‘decimal figure’ as yours. But what stands you out is the character you have built in yourself, your level of competency in your chosen field of study.

The ability to courageously speak about the knowledge you have acquired. And also, to defend what you claim to have obtained.


AI: What would you advise the government to do to improve the standard of our education system?

TA: The covid-19 pandemic situation in the country has, to a very large extent, showed us the level of our educational system, compared to that of the western world.

I really look forward to having a Nigeria, where the education sector would be taken as a priority by the government and other relevant stakeholders.

The issue of internal and external strike in our higher institutions of learning should be checked and completely chiseled out.

It is obvious that the online learning presence of our educational institutions is in complete shambles. Therefore, the government should thoroughly look at this aspect and embrace the future of work.

The future is technology. This means, all our various institutions of learning must endeavor to work on how lectures can be delivered online successfully. As it’s done in the other developed parts of the world.

We must never be caught unaware anymore. Proactive steps must be taken in preparation for any future occurrences like COVID-19.


AI: Any other thing you would like to share?

In the words of Apostle Paul, he said and I quote,

“I am what I am by the grace of God.”

Having a first-class was all by the grace of God. Therefore, I encourage every student to maintain a strong relationship and clean partnership with Him, as they progress in their educational pursuit.

Finally, I would say that,

it is not enough to be successful; you must seek to soar to the level of significance. Strive to make a difference and endeavor to be a change maker wherever you find yourself.

Thank you very much for having me.


That’s it for this week’s episode. I hope you enjoyed the interview. Got a scholar you would love to be featured?

Would you like to sponsor any of our scholars you find their stories inspiring?
Or want to contact any of them for employments and engagements?

Please reach out to me directly: or call +2347035835612.

I am Abigael Ibikunle and celebrating excellence is a top priority for me. iTeach, iSpeak, iTrain, iFacilitate, iWrite, iInterview and iLoveYou all. Smile! See you next week!


About the author

Abigael Ibikunle

Associate Correspondent at Edugist, Abigael Ibikunle is a Mathematics Education graduate. A professional Journalist and a passionate writer. She can be reached via:


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