Esther Okede may seem like an ordinary 10-year old, but she’s also at the top of her class at Open University in the U.K.
Esther’s mother, Efe, began homeschooling her when she was just three years old, and quickly realized she had a prodigy on her hands.
“At four, I started teaching her numbers and the alphabet, then I taught her addition and then she learned subtraction and then she learned multiplication,” explained Efe.
“One day, as a joke, I said ‘I know what to teach you next, I’ll teach you algebra.’ I wrote my engineering thesis on how to make engineering math easy, so based on those principles I sat Esther down and taught her the basics. And she absolutely got it. She didn’t just get it, she loved it. She asked for more and more. She kept saying, ‘Can I have more yummy yummy algebra?’”
Esther quickly accelerated through primary and secondary level courses, and passed all standardized state tests by age nine.
Her mother enrolled her in the next level of courses—at the local university, where she received a grade of 100 percent on her most recent test.
“It’s so interesting. It has the type of maths I love. It’s real maths—theories, complex numbers, all that type of stuff,” said Esther. “It was super easy. My mum taught me in a nice way.”
Esther intends to quickly pursue bigger and better things. “I want to finish [the course] in two years. Then I’m going to do my PhD in financial maths 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 great way to help people.”
As if college isn’t enough of a challenge for her, Esther is also writing children’s math workbooks called “Yummy Yummy Algebra.”
“It starts at a beginner level—that’s volume one. But then there will be volume two, and volume three, and then volume four. But I’ve only written the first one,” explained Esther. “As long as you can add or subtract, you’ll be able to do it. I want to show other children they are special.”
Esther’s 6-year old brother, Isaiah, is already following in her footsteps. He is scheduled to take an secondary school A-level exam this summer.
Efe and her husband Paul are in the process of building a nursery and primary school in Nigeria—where the family is from—named “Shakespeare’s Academy” to begin in the fall.
They plan to incorporate basic coursework such as English, languages, math, and science, as well as more involved subjects like morality, ethics, speech, entrepreneurship, and etiquette—much like the curriculum they used to teach their children.
“The school is designed to give children an aim so they can study for something, not just for the sake of acquiring certifications. There is an end goal,” said Paul.