Academics hail Nigerian students’ exploits abroad, urge government to revamp education
In a post on LinkedIn last month, Nigerian lecturer in Cyprus, Ifeanyi Obi, said that during his undergraduate studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he studied architecture and technology of building, he managed to get a lower second-class diploma.
He said that in 2018, after dusting off his academic difficulties in Nigeria, he applied for a masters degree in Cyprus where he obtained the highest honors and went on to earn his promotion major in his doctoral studies.
Obi said that after his doctorate he was offered a place at the university as a lecturer and four years later, in 2021, he became an associate professor of construction technology at the American University of Cyprus.
In March of this year, the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, revealed that more than 2.1 million students are currently studying at Nigerian universities.
But caught in the web of harsh learning environments, a poor teacher-student interface, and relentless strikes by the University Academic Staff Union, extending semesters / sessions, students were often mentally exhausted.
For some struggling to graduate, they are achieving unimpressive results that cannot withstand stiff competition in the thorny job market. Many Nigerian students go on to study abroad after graduation and some even go abroad for undergraduate studies. In addition to attending prestigious universities, Nigerian graduates go so far as to attend unpopular schools in Europe, Asia, including African countries including Ghana and South Africa.
According to data from the Migration Policy Institute in 2017, Nigerians in the United States are the most educated of any national group – at least 61% of Nigerians in the United States have a bachelor’s degree. This figure is striking compared to statistics from other educated groups in the United States – 31% for the total foreign-born population and 32% for the United States-born population. The mobility of Nigerian academics is driven by the desire for quality education and to maximize their potential.
In a report published in 2021 by a French agency for the promotion of higher education, international student services and international mobility, Campus France, Nigeria recorded 76,338 students traveling abroad to study in 2018. But d ‘by 2020 the number has increased. Nearly 100,000 Nigerian students have enrolled in foreign educational institutions, according to a Germany-based education service provider, International Consultants for Education and Fairs, focused on international student mobility.
The numbers will increase in the following years as more Nigerian students apply to universities abroad for undergraduate and postgraduate studies.
In 2018, Cambridge International Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa Juan Visser, at a stakeholder program, said Nigerian students can compete favorably with students from anywhere in the world. Acclaimed, many Nigerian students at foreign institutions have lived up to the challenge, even those with appalling results while studying in Nigeria. Among the many Nigerians who had performed exceptionally abroad was Miss Christiana Udoh, who received the 2018 Dudley Newitt Award for Experimental Excellence at Imperial College London, UK. The award was announced at the Dudley Newitt conference held on the university campus.
The school administration also awarded a scholarship to Udoh, who was the first Nigerian to receive the award, for what the institution described as his impressive performance during a master’s degree in chemical engineering. Akwa Ibom State government awarded him a scholarship in the amount of $ 20,000. In July 2021, 30 Nigerian academics were awarded scholarships totaling $ 4.35 million from the US Consulate General in Lagos to attend US universities and colleges for the 2021/2022 academic session.
Commenting on the unique performances of Nigerian students abroad, ASUU National President Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke said that the lack of funding for Nigerian institutions was one of the main issues affecting the education sector in Nigeria. country.
He said, “The problem with education in Nigeria is not the students, nor the teachers, but the system in place. In the 1970s and 1980s people came from other countries to study in Nigeria. Lecturers came to Nigeria from all over the world to teach. But that has all changed since the government relegated our education to an irrelevant state – afflicting it with underfunding and neglect. Any Nigerian who goes abroad and performs well shouldn’t come as a surprise as we are naturally smart people.
Osodeke said he is currently participating in an educational program sponsored by the German government; with participants from Europe, America and other African countries. He added that in his four years of taking the program, Nigerian students always came first after assessments. He added that when he asked speakers from other countries how they felt about development, they also said Nigerian students are brilliant.
He further said that Nigerians need to devote more attention to education as it cannot replace education if they hope to progress as a nation.
He said: “If we don’t fix this now, we will continue to enrich other countries with our best brains and our money as well. Nigerian doctors were recently questioned en masse by the Saudi government. They wouldn’t have done this if these Nigerians were incompetent.
A lawyer and lecturer at Nigerian Law School, Mr. George Ibekwe, said other countries have better educational tools than Nigeria.
He said, “They have a well-developed lesson plan that contains elaborate content, facilities for reaching the content and, of course, feedback mechanisms to test whether students have been able to internalize what was taught to them. Furthermore, teaching and learning outside the country is ‘learner-centered’, unlike what we have in Nigeria where most teachers just read material to students that they are supposed to. memorize before their exams.
“At Nigerian Law School, we force students to do whatever lawyers do in practice so that when they start practice it is not a problem for them. I think the next time the National Universities Commission has the opportunity to review university curricula, it will focus on interactive teaching and learning.
In his contribution, the CEO of a Lagos-based education agency helping Nigerian students gain admissions and scholarships to European and American universities, Williams Nwachukwu, said that over the years, Nigerian students have left. abroad to continue their studies for various reasons. . He noted that some students were looking for a chance to prove themselves outside the country.
Nwachukwu said: “Whatever the reason, it has become obvious that students who study abroad tend to do better than their counterparts in Nigeria. Some who have studied in Nigeria before traveling abroad are shocked at the big difference between our educational institutions and those outside the country and how most likely they have developed thick skin due to our type of education. , they tend to go overseas and get great results.
He noted that this difference stems from decades of decline in the Nigerian education system.
He added: “Many Nigerian students experience intimidation and harassment from their teachers, both sexual and verbal. It takes away a student’s ability to learn and thrive. Poor infrastructure in both student accommodation and learning materials / facilities is another factor affecting students.
“More importantly, our schools often focus more on theory than practical teaching methods. This stifles the ability of students to process information in the way that works best for them. ”
Stating that most overseas schools have good funding from government and private donors, allowing them to improve in various disciplinary areas, Nwachukwu noted that if the government and well-meaning Nigerians can contribute their quota , the learning environment would improve.
He said: “The federal government and school authorities also need to come together and create joint and impartial oversight committees to tackle all kinds of harassment from teachers. The mental well-being of students should be taken into consideration, as an atmosphere of fear and undue pressure is often not the best for learning. Speakers who make mistakes should be severely punished for sending a message to others.
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