Meet Joshua Beckford, a prodigy who was the youngest person to ever attend Oxford University in the U.K. at 6-years-old. Now at 14, Beckford is working to build a school in Nigeria.
Joshua Beckford, who grew up in Tottenham, England, lives with high-functioning autism, but it is hard to tell from his sheer intelligence. At just 10-months-old, Joshua could understand and memorize letters on a keyboard. By 3-years-old Joshua could read eloquently using phonics and was even speaking Japanese and Mandarin. At 4, Joshua taught himself how to operate complex surgical procedures using Microsoft Surgery Simulator and even gave presentations at community fundraising events.
Joshua’s father, Knox Daniel, soon realized that his son was too advanced for an ordinary curriculum and had him homeschooled because he “doesn’t like children his own age and only likes teenagers and adults.” In 2011, Daniels discovered a special Oxford University program for gifted children ages 8-13, and though Joshua was only 6 at the time, Daniel enrolled him in the program, which made Joshua the youngest person to ever study at Oxford University. He took history and philosophy courses in the program and graduated with distinctions and was granted a Certificate of Excellence.
In 2017, Joshua Beckford won the Positive Role Model Award for Age at The National Diversity Awards, and The Illumination Foundation Of North Carolina recently placed him on their “We, The Spectrum” list, which covers 30 extraordinary people with autism.
At 14, Joshua Beckford is an ambassador for the Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network (BMAN), which helps provide educational opportunities for children in low-income areas, and is a Low-Income Families Education (L.I.F.E) Support Ambassador for the U.K. and five African countries, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, and Kenya.
After his father explained to him that many Nigerian children don’t have access to quality education, he partnered with BMAN to fundraise for the building of a school. “So far he has raised enough to pay for the architectural plans and the land has been donated,” says Daniel. They plan for the school to have three science labs, an art gallery, multiple classrooms, an admin block, a church, and a mosque, “so students of all faiths can learn together.”
Joshua Beckford eventually hopes to become a neurosurgeon in the future and hopes to save the Earth; and with his kind heart and intelligence, he is off to a good start and has a bright future ahead of him. “I want to save the Earth. I want to change the world and change peoples’ ideas to doing the right things about Earth,” says Joshua.