End Product of Study Abroad Vs Nigerian Universities (2)
Having looked at Part 1 of this series, which focused on the question of the quality of citizens being put back in society after university studies, this 2nd part looks at what graduates with good and quality education are achieving across the world, and ways to improve education in Nigeria.
Please read on:
Universities across the world are teeming with Nigerian students in search of quality education. From Africa, Europe, America to Asia and beyond young men and women from Nigeria are making their presence felt in the universities in their characteristic ways of “standing out” as Nigerians. So, what is special about some of these universities that make parents and guardians think their wards/siblings would get better education out there?
A chat with some of the students gives one a range of reasons why they are in those universities abroad rather than back home in Nigeria. However, the reality is that the number of Nigerian students out there seem to be on the increase, though the current economic recession may slow this down for a while.
There must be something that some of these universities abroad are doing to keep foreign students attracted in their quest for good and quality education. However, this analysis does not in any way speak for all universities abroad. It is certainly deceptive to think or even imagine that just because a university is outside the country it necessarily produces the ideal graduate. However, our yardstick here is with regards to good universities out there that are helping Nigerian students become the best persons they can be.
There are things universities abroad are doing in order to maintain a high standard of education. A close look at these good universities show that standards are not compromised and there is a clear focus and real effort to give students the best in their various fields of study.
These schools, for instance, have good student data base supported by efficient application of ICT for administrative and management purposes. This brings about more effective ways of running various departments in the university.
Some of these schools have found ways to encourage students to have laptops through collaborating with the education ministry to subsidize the cost of laptops or notebook computers for students. When students have more access to computer and internet, then one can expect them to present all assignments in typed form and well researched too (of course, acknowledging sources!).
Oh, I know of a lecturer who made her maths/statistics students type their maths assignment. I missed that class because I had the option of choosing a different lecturer! Her students had to discover how to use those signs and symbols which you know are not on the surface of the computer keyboard. Those students certainly had the most memorable maths/statistics semester of their student life!
In addition, the use of multi-media (video and audio presentations) to facilitate class lectures makes lessons more vivid, interesting and therefore more retentive to the memory. Students are made to carry out assignments and tasks as a team and are required to do a power-point presentation of their researched work. Interestingly, these presentations are graded by the lecturer and sometimes by the class-mates who are expected to judge the work done and the manner of public presentation.
Such regular research work and class presentations either as an individual or as a small group in front of the entire class, teach students public-speaking skills, writing skills, team work, self-confidence and brings out leadership qualities in them, including problem-solving skills.
Furthermore, besides regular lecturers, good, experienced and world-renowned professors are brought in to give speeches, lectures, class seminars and engage the students to give them a global perspective which helps to broaden their understanding of their field of study. Universities today have the responsibility to prepare students for the global and multicultural world we now live in. Even an upcoming local university is not excluded from having such ambition and vision.
Other elements that contribute to high quality education include: availability of proper infrastructure such as well-equipped libraries, comfortable lecture halls, good staff rooms, co-co-curricular activities such as regular university events (social and academic), sports, games, university clubs (not tribal or political groups) that help produce good leaders.
In addition, student mentoring programs can be introduced, which may be pair-mentoring or mentorship by alumni, international exchange programs with universities overseas whereby universities exchange students for a semester or two to complement their study experience, and the list goes on and on.
The focus and determination to offer students the best there is can bring about much creativity on the part of the university administration and its board.
Ways to Improve Education in Nigeria
These are things that can be done in Nigerian tertiary institutions. Maybe some of these are already applicable. However, for those that are not, settling for and being comfortable with the status quo is pure mediocrity and only produces citizens with mediocre abilities, with average quality, skills and low drive for excellence.
On the whole, this lowers the ability to produce future leaders who can place Nigeria in its rightful place on the world stage and not just at the level of “potentials” which we keep bragging about.
The opportunity for quality university education should be offered to Nigerians here at home because it is their right and it will benefit the nation.
It could be assumed, especially with the intentions expressed in support of strike actions, that teaching, non-teaching staffs and heads of universities have the desire to make their universities ones that would be reckoned with on all levels.
However, this resolve needs to be stronger and accompanied by real efforts to change the status quo, change attitudes, ways of doing things (such as skipping lecture periods, manipulating exam records, exploitation through sale of hangouts and books, and so on) and especially the tendency to use students for monetary gains besides what is required or for other selfish ends.
Lecturers and institutional heads in tertiary institutions need to keep in mind that they play a very influencial role in the lives of their students. Their words and behaviours have a lasting effect on the way their students think and behave in their life and careers afterwards, even though such lecturers may not directly be held responsible for likely negative consequences on the part of the graduate. So, this is an important element in shaping good and patriotic citizens for the country.
Tertiary institutions in Nigeria need to ensure that they help students make the most of their study programs and become citizens who have learnt to do things right for the advancement of their country.
Proliferation of Higher Education In Nigeria: Implications for Quality Education, by Dr. Femi Sunday Akinwumi, Lecturer, Department of Educational Management, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria
(To be continued on – Part 3)
- Linda Ellah