As a result of the parents I had I was priviledged enough to receive a substancial education in both England and Nigeria.
I was a student in what was allegedly one of the top 5 secondary schools in England, and my Nigerian counter parts spared no cost either. So on a level, I would say I have caught somewhat of a glimpse of the best that both countries have to offer, as far as education is concerned.
Truth be told. There really is no comparison.
In Nigeria the best schools can boast of having constant electricity, the internet and computer labs; perhaps on a sports day they would even take a group to go swimming. The classrooms would be about 20 students large, and they would occasionally have a french teacher that’s actually french.
The best of England though presents a whole other world.
Each student is given their own study room, equipped with a computer and the internet. The boarding house consists of tv rooms, games rooms as well as a private garden. The facilities include fully furnished design and technology labs, sports fields, sports halls, gyms, shooting ranges, basketball courts, tennis courts, astro turfs, athletics track -need I say more. Maids clean the rooms, making sure the laundry is washed, ironed and neatly folded the following morning. Cooks make 2 course meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner – even providing tea and biscuits during the day, along with a fruit bowl that never goes empty at night.
Coming from a nigerian perspective, this is more like a holiday resort than a school.
Looking back I sometimes ask myself if all these amenities truly made a significant difference to my learning ability; perhaps.
One thing I do know is that on a fundamental level, Nigerians really do not know how to educate.
It doesn’t take a long time spent in a Nigerian school to recognise that all that is tested in students is their ability to “cram”.
The students with the highest grades are those that are able to regurgitate word for word what is written in the prescribed text book. It doesn’t matter if they understand it, the important thing to prove is that they actually read the book.
It is therefore not surprising that in Nigeria you can find mechanics that can’t fix cars, electricians that don’t know anything about wiring, and graduates with IT degrees that are barely familiar with computers. This is ofcourse assuming that the student even wrote the exam himself, as opposed to paying someone else to write it for him; a pretty common practice.
In England education is based on finding out how well a student can “apply” what he has learnt. In fact a student that only manages to quote the text word for word would be lucky to escape with a pass.
This fundamental difference in approach is what seperates a student that is able to learn and create, as opposed to read and recite.
Interestingly, Nigerians that have been educated in their system for a while seem to excel when put in an English environment. Perhaps the combination of learning how to retain information in Nigeria and progressing on to learn how to disect the info in England is what fuels this trend.
Even though the English are equipped with countless facilities and the right educational techniques, the youth in general are not really interested in being taught. Going out and getting pissed is a far more attractive option.
The government pays for their education, yet most look forward to reaching the age where they can finally make the independent decision to drop out.
By contrast Nigerians give education an extreemly high regard. An academic certificate of any kind is glorified to an overwhelming degree. I might even go as far as to say that there are few things a Nigerian child can do to please their parents more than coming back home with a degree. Those that aren’t in school are not out by choice, but quite simply because their parents can’t afford it.
Its one of those paradoxes of life where you have a country that has everything but doesn’t appreciate it, compared with a country that has nothing and would do anything for it.
Nigeria simply doesn’t have the facilities needed to put what they learn into practice. A successful university has been reduced to one where the students may actually graduate on time. As much as it would be fulfilling to say better days are still to come, the reality is the priviledged few that are able to make a change, would rather send their kids abroad than do something about it.
It would be an interesing experiment to swap the citizens of both countries. Perhaps it would give the English a better sense of appreciation; and it would give Nigerians the chance to put what they read into practice.
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