Monday, March 1, 2010

Recently, it was revealed that Nigerian students boost the United Kingdom's GDP to the tune of N246 billion. With regard to the United States, many Nigerian students are apparently paying an average of $21,000 per year on tuition. Because of the high regard Nigerians place on education, Nigerian students can be found in every corner of the globe studying far away from home. Educational fairs with institutions of learning from across the African continent, and indeed the world, are very commonplace, and lucrative money makers, in Nigeria.

Being that the suicide bomb attempt by Abdulmutallab, has somewhat frozen Nigeria-U.S. relations, making it harder for Nigerians to get education visas to the US and other countries, Canada has announced that it is seeking Nigerian students. The Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Denis Kingsley, assured that Canada would provide scholarship opportunities for Nigerian citizens accepted to Canadian schools. Speaking at the 7th Canadian Educational Fair which was held in Lagos and Abuja, the High Commissioner explained that new visa rules now allow Nigerian students to work 20 hours a week, while studying, so they can make ends meet. According to Kingsley,

"We help the Nigerian community, but also transfer the knowledge and the capacity that we have. Education is a gift that you can afford to give your children and also get one for yourself. I think that what happens in going to Canada to get your education is that the institutions are renowned, it is a safe country, the training is an experience and adventure, it fosters relationship."
While one must respect the spin with which Kingsley spoke of the benefits of Nigerians and Canadians working together on education, it must be made clear that this 'relationship' is not altruistic and boils down to dollars and cents (in this case Canadian). Nigerian students are a potential market for Canadian institutions as has been proven by the money they pump into the United Kingdom. Furthermore, it is well known that Canada has for years sought to increase its population via favorable immigration laws. This push for Nigerian students would benefit Canada in that many of those students will likely remain in Canada, using their skills to improve that country.

Nevertheless, considering the current state of Nigerian education, it only makes sense that countries like Canada would push to get Nigerian students. Education, like anything else, bows to the laws of demand and supply. Nigeria is a country in which people are of little worth unless they have attained not just a college degree but additional degrees that look like an alphabet soup at the end of their name. It is for this reason that the most educated group of immigrants in the United States are not Indians, but Nigerians. Hence, if the Nigerian government and private institutions cannot satisfy the high demand for quality education, it is only reasonable that someone else, in this case, the Canadian government, will attempt to do so.

Although Nigeria apportioned N210bn for the education sector in 2008 and N249bn for the sector in 2009, the fact that tens of thousands of Nigerians can be found in England or the U.S. seeking an education indicates that the budgetary monies for education in Nigeria need to be tripled, if not more. The federal government cannot ignore the statistics showing that 23mn of the nation's youth are unemployable, nor that unemployment stands at 28.57%. The increased and effective spending of money on education will improve Nigeria's labor force and in turn spurn even more entrepreneurs who are positioned to transform the nation's economy. This will not happen if other issues are not addressed, primarily the lack of electricity and continued corruption that impedes progress. The Nigerian government cannot continue to rely on the hope that Nigerian expatriates will come home when called upon to do so or if forced to by the global economy. As such, it is a better tactic to train Nigerians who are in Nigeria so that the nation has a capable workforce already within the country. And, this way, these individuals will not be pushed to the side by foreigners specifically imported to handle local jobs.

As Nigerian families continue to seek ways to get the children educated, countries like Canada will continue to fill the educational void created by Nigeria's struggling educational sector. The possible consequences of this might not manifest for many years, but what is clear is that today, not tomorrow, Nigerian students need access to a quality education. And, they should not have to leave Nigeria to get it.

From The Archives:
- Nigerian Students Spend N246 BN In UK
- 23mn Of Nigeria's Youth Are Unemployable
- Nigeria's 10MN Child Beggars

15 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Seyi said...

Interesting...There's no doubt that Nigeria is a big market for overseas students.

Isabella said...

Yep no doubt at all. It's quite sad they have to leave their own country to get good education.

Beauty said...

One of the largest diasporas of pre-modern times was the African Diaspora aka slave trade. Now, the reverse is happening where we pay to go abroad and get an education. Canada is such a beautiful place to live, however, home is where the heart is. This is where I am unhappy with the term "Luring Nigerian Students". Is Canada luring Nigerian students when whoever could would choose to leave at all costs? Is education being pushed or is the world pulling it?

wiki. Timbuktu circa 14th century's long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization is scholarship. Timbuktu is assumed to have had one of the first universities in the world. People chose to go where world class education lived in peace and harmony. Hence, Canada, not South Africa today. Never mind anywhere else as your previous posts on the subject indicated. The only concern is this, for as long as our country remains irrelevant, our collective future stand a chance out of Nigeria, say for example, Canada.

Beauty said...

ps. No platitudes meant, I genuinely enjoyed this post, it is an excellent reminder of what is possible. The UN and others call it serious challenges while investment bankers and fund managers (masters of all trades/universe) like Accenture and others see cheap opportunities. They are yet to hear "The Danger of a Single Story" by Chimamanda Adichie @ TED. Nigeria is no longer about wealth creation but survival and it is a huge collection of stories. Huge kisses for attempting to tell these dizzying tales. And yes, all is well. Best wishes to you and yours. Beauty


@ Seyi: Indeed. The numbers are staggering really. And to think that less than 20 years ago, I welcomed a Trini student that came to Nigeria to get a better education than the one she was getting back home. MY uncle tells me of Asians coming to learn in Nigeria's paramount institutions back in the day. I have relatives that were in the Ministry of Education and they weep at the current state of affairs.

Anyway, it is never too late to turn things around, is what I say. Thanks so much for getting the onversations tarted.

@ Miss FlyHigh: That is the sad thing, isn't it? To get any kind of education one probably has to leave Nigeria because schools, especially not the public ones, are unable to produce globally competitive students. At least that is what I her and in fact, I recall commenter Dee's reaction to the post on Nigerian students in the UK. It was very telling.

Anyway, thank you so much for stopping by.

@ Beauty: "Is Canada luring Nigerian students when whoever could would choose to leave at all costs? Is education being pushed or is the world pulling it?

Ah, that is such an astute observation. You are right, Nigerians leave the country in droves because of the perceived lack of opportunities. Which is an ironic shame, because foreigners and foreign companies flock to Nigeria to supply the ever growing demand for everything under the sun.

And, thank you for the kind words. Glad to know all is well with you and yours.

Nigerian Entrepreneur said...

Blame our leaders for this. Instead of giving our educational sector the attention it deserves, they treat the Lecturers and Teachers as commoners. The salaries of these professionals don't get paid on time.
Our leaders careless if the entire education sector should collapse. Never mind the huge amount being budgeted yearly, the truth is a great portion of it still ends in the pocket of the politicians while the institutions and the students suffer neglect.
So, it is no wonder anyone that have the means will rather send his or her child/ward to study outside Nigeria.
May God help my nation Nigeria. I am still proudly Nigeria, but I weep for the state of my nation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. 'Luring' is the exact word to use.

Some years ago, I read a TIME editorial about how schools in Europe and North America were trying to survive in the face of dwindling populations due to their very low birth rates.

Their main strategy for survival was to actively develop ways to entice students from high birth-rate countries in Africa and Asia to their schools with scholarships and other attractive stipends.

Of course, in the late 80s and 90s, the educational systems of the countries in Africa and Asia were being systematically strangulated by starving them of funds via IMF/World Bank conditionalities of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). The primary condition for getting a World Bank loan was to drastically cut down spending on education and other social services.

By the turn of the century, universities in every country that took the IMF loan had become glorified shells of their former selves.

I admit their all these were done with the complicity of corrupt government officials in those countries.

In the early to mid-80s, most universities in Nigeria were considered as World class centers of knowledge in very many disciplines from Medicine (UI, UNN, LAG, BEN etc), Sciences (UI, ABU, LAG, UNN & practically ALL Nigerian universities then), Arts (IFE, BEN, ABU, etc).

All these until the pestilence called Babangida happened on Nigeria ...


Dami said...

the allocation for education has increased substantially since 2000 yet there are very little signs of improvement, more needs to be done to entice private sector or even these foreign universities to open up universities within the country as there are just too many people heading to very few universities. with more private universities prices will eventually go down and spaces will be available in the state/federal universities whilst maintain very high quality with industry specific curriculum.

Happy new year and thanx for checking up, i do follow you on facebook

Anonymous said...

Interesting and insightful....

- Enisan O. from Facebook

Anonymous said...

I guess it is an opportunity not all might get otherwise.

- Myne Whitman from Facebook

Anonymous said...

If only our education system can be looked into, many of us will not have the need to go to some WEIRD places like Ukr.

Afronuts said...

Na wah oh.

And the brain drain goes on and on.
Will it ever stop? I guessb its up to what becomes of naija's education that will determine.

Azazel said...

Why can't they just pour enough money into that sector.. Just go the whole mile.

Sherri said...

sadly, the consequences are already manifesting. we're just not making the connection yet.

even with this "luring" only a small fraction will be able to afford it. what becomes of the ones who can't?
how u dey sis?

CodLiverOil said...

We all know the sate of education in Nigeria is terrible and needs to be overhauled, alas such a dramatic change is unlikely to occur anytime soon. The conduct of the professionals in the industry is also something else that needs to be addressed.

I read an article about how Nigeria's difficult near-neighbour Cameroon is harnessing it's educated diaspora to help develop the economy. Even though they created the conditions to force them abroad in the first place.

Northern Cameroon is now being made productive. This is not to say that Cameroon is ideal, but even the "president-for-life" Biya has recognised that this is a resource to be tapped.

Compare that with Northern Nigeria (which is becoming increasingly unproductive due to desertification), or Nigeria as a whole. The government have already missed the first chance of utilising such skills at home by providing a proper education (compare that to Cuba and Venezuela), but now they are apparently sleeping on this second chance. To use the skills abroad to create better opportunities at home.

One can't help but get annoyed at why Nigeria continues to blow opportunities in an unceasing fashion.

Another example of how we are being left behind.

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