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••• The International Writers Magazine:Comment

Why Nigerians have to study abroad
• Odimegwu Onwumere
Lack of investment and quality control in education wreaks economic havoc


Many Nigerians have views that the education industry is supposed to be one of the biggest industries in the country. If the successive governments have harnessed the industry very well, it stands to earn the country about $300b per annum. Without doubt, many rich Nigerians have discussed the weakness of following governments to establish schools to foster the needed qualitative education that Nigeria seeks. With the big chasm in the Nigeria’s education system looming, the citizens are looking elsewhere to attain a sound education.

Spending heavily to study abroad
The pillars of Nigeria were dazed when the Chairman Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and Tertiary Education Trust Fund said that Nigerians spend $2bn on school fees abroad. Many Nigerians focused their attention on the huge sum of money mentioned and were flummoxed. The Senator was horror-struck, adding that it was unnecessary that Nigerians even travel to other African countries to get educated.

Her position was that the country was at the peak of getting the research and education network right. Conversely, some Nigerians contradicted the views of the Senator and said that it’s a pity that Nigerians are travelling out in droves to get qualitative education elsewhere. But they do not have other options due to the fact that majority of the public schools in the country – from kindergarten to tertiary level – do not even have working hostels, which they enjoy in schools across the shores of the country.

Reason for the exodus abroad
Checks have revealed that no matter the measures that the government is putting in place to stop the trend of exodus of Nigerians to study abroad, it is a tall dream to stop them because Nigerians, who have schooled overseas, did not experience unremitting strikes that their unions embark on in Nigeria, which disrupted many academic sessions in the recent past.

Specialists have said that there is inadequate teacher education, it betrayed quality assurance in the area of class dimension, minute number of teachers and tutorial objects, laughable governance of schools, zero execution of Schools Management Committees (SMCs), insufficient budgetary for education, low incentives for teachers, and so on.

Budget and Grades watered down
In May 2013, Sarki Mallam-Madori, a public affairs analyst argued, "From 1997 and 2000 statistics show that federal government expenditure on education was below 10% of overall expenditure. It noticed that, the national expenditure on education cannot be computed because various states expenditure on education cannot be determined, in relation to the UNESCO recommendation of 26% of national budgets."

In an appearance in July 2014, the Rector, Olawoyin Awosika School of Innovative Studies, Prof Abiola Awosika showed remorse that the education in the country is going down by the day, of which students' grades are lowered in order to see if they could measure up with the trend, whereas it should not have been so. She pointed out that the meagre curricula in the universities and colleges of education that were supposed to build up people is a big blow. Prof Awosika said, “We lowered the Joint Administration and Matriculation Board (JAMB) scores again this year; 180 for universities and 130 for colleges of education and polytechnics."

Education killed by politicians
A Nigerian who wouldn’t like the name in print said that the schools in the country have been wrecked by corrupt leaders. And this has led to the malfunctioning of other government agencies.

There are other factors than those in this line of thought as to why Nigerians will not stop from travelling to overseas for studies. They include paying for the handouts of lecturers to get more points in tests and exams of which any students that did not abide by the dictate risked being delayed to graduate by his or her lecturer.

Some Nigerians who could not afford the money to study abroad drop out of school. Many Nigerians argued that if the Senator was frowning about Nigerians studying abroad, perhaps, due to the exorbitant money they pay to get admission in the schools abroad, the private schools in Nigeria are even worse.

Private schools couldn’t help
Nigerians said that the private schools in Nigeria, unchangingly, collect huge sum of money from Nigerians without showing same in academic improvement

The worry is that due to the economic harshness that many homes are going through, the effort by parents to keep their children in schools is unwholesome. A school of thought said that it does not see the rationale in spending huge sums of money that amount to hundreds of thousands per a term for a toddler in the Nigerian private nursery or elementary schools, whereas he or she would be meeting in the same university with those that went to public schools and most times, the toddler is just empty in head.

U.S. Department of Education vs. Nigeria’s
There are insinuations that in the majority of the schools across the country the scientific laboratories in virtually all the schools are like artifacts in the museum. The blame has been heaped on the successive governments in the country, because statistics have shown that the workforce in Nigeria is not in decline. Lecturers from Nigeria excel in other worlds where they are exposed to the necessary amenities that include power, technology, conducive environment etc.

Buhari said: “The 2016 budgetary provision of N500 billion for the education sector is the highest so far, and it is our desire to apply every kobo in this budget to deal with various need of our universities to ensure that they become more globally competitive.”

On-the-contrary, the USA federal government allocated approximately $154 billion on education in fiscal year 2015. Going by the programmes administered by the U.S. Department of Education, which appear in two separate parts in the USA budget, critics have said the statements made by Buhari at the occasion were mere politics and charade compared to what obtains in the USA budget for Department of Education.

Nigerians are of the judgment that the schools in the country would have been the best in the world if the country had used its resources meant for the education sector judiciously and banned political-leaders from sending their wards to school abroad.

The Executive Secretary, Kogi State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB), Mallam Nuhu Ahmed was of a view that the Change mantra of Major General Muhammadu Buhari administration will amount to an exercise in futility if the education sector is not bettered.

At five-day training on December 14 2015, for quality assurance officers organised by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the state SUBEB with the theme “Strengthening the Capacity of Quality Assurance officers for Improved Quality Delivery” in Lokoja, Ahmed said, “Nigeria cannot develop without quality education.”

Ahmed squabbled, saying that the country will be measured by the qualitative education it gets; and how quality the country’s basic education is will form the bedrock of the educational harvest of the country.

He added, “The dream of a change in Nigeria will be a mirage if there are no quality teachers in the schools. The need for qualitative basic education delivery must be intensified by the government because without quality teachers there cannot be quality product amongst the students.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Writer and Consultant; he writes from Rivers State.
March 18th 2016
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