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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Thank you and Goodbye!

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It’s never easy to say goodbye but like the saying goes, all good things come to an end. My adventure with blogging has certainly reached the point where I can no longer carry on for many reasons. I am never one to engage in an activity that I’m no longer fully committed to as my many months of absence would suggest.

My family commitments are getting bigger all the time, work challenges and other interests that I am currently pursuing have made it increasingly difficult for me to continue hence the decision to discontinue blogging.

I may be back one day who knows but for now I am bowing out. My sincere thanks to all those who have followed, visited and commented on my blog posts. Thanks for the memories while it lasted. My email on this blog is still active if anyone ever wanted to contact me in future.

Thanks once again, happy blogging and stay blessed.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Nigerians on top of the league table!

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Good news coming out of Nigeria seems a scarce commodity these days especially with the daily onslaught of the Boko Haram insurgency and the usual corruption scandals that make daily headlines. However, reading an online article about a recent survey that confirms that Nigerians in the US rank topsin terms of higher educational attainment gave me something to cheer about. My analysis of the data shows that 54% of Nigerians in the US holds a Bachelors degree or higher. What the data didn’t mention was the areas of study where these degrees were obtained and more importantly the working experience the holders of these degrees have.

I'll be interested to see what the results would look like, if a similar research is conducted in the UK, where I also suspect Nigerians will not be far off when it comes to higher educational achievements. In many respects, the results don’t surprise me especially with our love affair with educational achievements. I remember growing as a child and education was the only thing we were encouraged or should I say pushed to aspire to achieve.

Whilst this achievement needs to be applauded and credit given where it’s due, we also need to put this in context. In the pursuit for educational excellence, are we actually seeking knowledge that we can apply in the real world or a mere collection of accolades to massage our egos? I guess we might need another research to convincingly answer this question.

The other thing I find quite interesting about the research results is that less Americans are seeking higher educational pursuit. That can only suggest to me that quite a large proportion of the rest of the indigenous population are perhaps taking up other vocations that don’t necessarily involve getting a degree. Sadly from my experience growing up in Nigeria, there seems to be an apathy towards those whose educational achievements fall short of a university degree.

Regardless of what lies beneath the surface of these supposed achievements, the reality is that Nigeria is blessed with highly qualified professionals both home and abroad. Any nation that is serious in developing, needs to tap into the resourcefulness of its citizens. This is the catalyst that will bring about growth and development and not necessarily oil or any other natural resources for that matter.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Give a book, save our future

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Let me first say a happy new year to you all and may your dreams come to fruition this year.  As promised, I’m embarking on a campaign,
‘Give a book, save our future’.

Quite simply, as some of you may well be aware that I’m a teacher and someone with a deep passion for education.  I believe God used education to make a huge difference in my life and continues to do so. I’ll regard my life’s journey as unfulfilled if I fail to give back to society in any way I can. As a Nigerian, we can be quite critical about the many wrongs in our society and most times rightly so. But I also believe we can take action by making small contributions that can only help improve our society. I’m a firm believer that whatever change we seek will only happen if we take action to accomplish them. I’m not in any way claiming this campaign will change the world but it certainly won’t make it any worse.

What is the purpose of this campaign?
I believe education remains the key that will unlock Nigeria’s future. Good education can only be possible with access to books, something that many Nigerian children are denied. So I’ve decided that if we keep waiting for the Nigerian governments at all levels, we might be waiting for a long time.

How will this campaign work?
This campaign which starts from today will involve awareness and invite people to donate old or used books they no longer need or are quite happy to give which are in fairly good condition. They can range from academic books, for primary and secondary school age, fiction, non-fiction etc.

Who can get involved?
This campaign is open to all. You can kindly donate a book or books.

How can you get involved?
You can get involved by help spreading the word via your blogs, websites, through friends, family etc. This campaign is not about me, I just see myself as a facilitator. It’s more about the ordinary Nigerian children who have limited access to books and whom this campaign will benefit eventually. You can also get involved by choosing to become a co-facilitator of this campaign and be actively involved in its operations.

How long will this campaign last?
This campaign will last for at least 6 months, up to the summer to enable us raise our initial target of 1000 books (an ambitious target) you might think but quite achievable I would like to believe.

Who will benefit from this campaign?
The plan is to partner with at least 3 schools especially in deprived areas in Nigeria in the first instance. The intention is to ensure that the books are donated for use in each school’s library for use by all students. Where a school library doesn’t exist then we can encourage them to set up one to enable students borrow or use these books for study.

Do you know of any school that could benefit from this campaign? If so please get in touch and let me know how you can be of help in making the necessary contacts needed to get things started.

How will this campaign be funded?
This will be a 100% charitable campaign. I am not asking for money, all I’m asking for is publicity, donations of old or used books for primary and secondary age or any book that will benefit young people. We'll also be soliciting for logistic support to send these books to Nigeria at the appropriate time.
All books collected will be accounted for. At the end of the campaign, details of the schools where these books have been donated to will be made available. Regular updates will be made available on this blog and on my other blog, A Pen and a Heart.

How can I send my book donations?
If you live in the UK or Ireland, please email me at:  or and I’ll provide you with the address where donations can be sent to.
If you live in the US, Canada, or other parts of Europe, perhaps you may want to lead this campaign where you are which will be quite awesome if you can. Those in Nigeria, we would even rely on your massive support in recommending schools and mobilising where you are.

At the time of writing this post, I've already collected about 100 ICT books (which is my subject specialism by the way) which we were going to throw away but I said no way. I knew it will be of immense benefit to our young people whose access to books is somewhat limited. That was really the time the idea for this campaign first crossed my mind. After months of dithering, I feel it's something I have to do. 

How can I get updates about the work of this campaign?
I will provide regular updates to show how much books have been donated and by who. I can use pseudo names for those who don’t want their real identities revealed. I have contacted a media outlet in the UK (BenTv) and I’m currently in discussion to see how they may help us get the word out to the Nigerian community and even others. I’m also in the process of contacting VoxAfrica, another UK based media outlet for Diaspora people.

In whatever way you want to support, please feel free to let me know on here or send me an email if you prefer. Also please feel free to ask any questions you may have. Advice and constructive criticisms are most certainly welcome.

This will be a challenge no doubt but one that I believe can succeed with your help and support. And if we succeed, we would together have made a small difference to the lives of some young people in Nigeria, and in doing so, maybe save their futures. And who knows, perhaps save our country’s future.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The true cost of Educating Nigerians Abroad

A lot has been made about the number of Nigerian students studying in foreign universities and institutions. With our abysmal poor track record of keeping up to date and accurate data, finding such information would prove rather difficult. So I embarked on a mission to try and find out how many Nigerian students are studying abroad and try to work out roughly how much on average they spend to do so. Nigeria ranked third just behind China and India with about 16,680 for the number of students who came over to the UK to study in 2010. With an average fee of £10,000 + living expenses totalling about £19,000, Nigerian students in UK universities may have spent well over £316million. This does not include those studying in secondary schools and colleges. In the US, there are currently 6,500 Nigerian students studying in US educational institutions paying an average of $21,000 in fees + living expenses. If you do the maths, that amounts to about $136million (about £68million). In total Nigerian students spend a whopping sum of about £385 just under (N100 billion Naira).

Recent reports suggest Nigerian students may well be contributing about $1billion to study in Ghana if the accuracy of the report can be verified. These figures precludes Nigerians studying in all corners of the world, from Australia to Ukraine, to Canada, Ireland, Sweden etc. In truth we may never know the actual cost that Nigerians students contribute to other countries by choosing to study abroad. But what we do know is the cost may well match or even surpass our entire education budget which stands at 400biliion for the next financial year, for 2012.

It goes to show that education is underfunded and mismanaged in our country hence the reason why our students are leaving in droves to seek better education elsewhere. And who can blame them when what they've left behind is an educational system that is in dire need. It is dysfunctional and fails to inspire our young minds.

Like I've always advocated for in the past, we must adopt a bottom to top approach in restructuring education in Nigeria and not the other way round. By this I mean, we must look at investing in infrastructure and an adequate teacher education programme. We must make our schools worth attending again by putting education at the forefront of our desire to change and develop the present and the future of our country.

On a positive note, after months of pondering and wondering how to make a difference, I've decided it's time to embark on a campaign to revive the long lost reading culture in Nigeria and more importantly make books accessible to many Nigerian children which unfortunately isn't the case.  This campaign will be known as 'Give a book, save our future'.

The purpose of this campaign will be to collect as many used books donations as possible and redistribute it to those who really need them in Nigeria at no cost. The idea is to partner with some pilot schools in Nigeria where these books will be donated to school libraries (where they exist) so that students can have access to them and be encouraged to do so. If you're reading this blog and this is of interest to you, then please get in touch. I have already collected nearly a 100 ICT books that we were going to throw away but I had to keep them because I know they would be useful to those who need them. I'll provide further more detailed information about this campaign in the near future.

Together we can make a difference to the future of Nigerian children.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

1-6-3-3-4 or 6-3-3-4: Does it matter?

I read with utter amazement that the Federal Government has apparently announced plans to ditch the new 9-3-4 system of education and revert to the old system of 6-3-3-4. However, from what I understand it will come in a slightly modified version called 1-6-3-3-4. In simple terms, the 'new' system will just have an Early years element to it. It's amazing that it's taken our politicians and technocrats over 50 years to suddenly realise that early years education should become policy. However, we never fall short of coming up with bucket loads of policies but what has always being lacking is the politcal will, lack of funding or should I say its misapplication.

As an educationist and teacher myself, education is a very expensive business and changes in policy even cost more in terms of planning and for it to have an impact in the classroom. However, judging by our dreadful record in policy implementation, I fear this may yet become another wild-goose chase which sadly has turned our educational system into the shambles it has become over the years. There's no doubt, systems can always be improved but I do not think our current system of education is really the issue. The real issues are to do with poor infrastructure in schools, poorly trained and inadequate teachers which have grave implications for teaching and learning. And to make matters worse, they need a 30-man committee to implement this 'new' system. Educational policies are implemented by teachers via civil servants through local educational authorities and not by politicians and technocrats.

Sometimes I wonder why we choose to do things differently in Nigeria and ignoring what seems to be the obvious. Who stands to gain from this new policy? Is it the politicians or the average Nigerian child? I'm definitely sure it's not the latter but I'll leave you to make your minds up.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sliding down a slippery slope

Earlier in June this year, I wrote an article where I made some analysis about JAMB and the failure of public exams. This was prompted as a result of the fallout from the poor result which painted a grim future of how low our educational system has fallen. The results at the time showed that only 56% of the over one million students who sat for the exam did not manage to achieve the minimum 200 mark that is required to gain admission into Nigerian universities. Fast forward two months later and we have similar problems on our hands with the recent abysmal performance of students in the last May/June 2011 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, (WASSCE). A breakdown of the result showed that only 30 per cent of the candidates making credits in both English and Mathematics. Though an improvment of 5% from last year's record 25%. Details of the result also showed that the results of 81,573 candidates representing 5.29 per cent were withheld. The implications of the results would mean only a few students will have the necessary reuirements to gain admission into universities as most courses require candidates to have a credit in both English and Mathematics. However, we all know many more will gain admission nonetheless and there lies the problem of potentially drop in the quality of students entering universities.

Ok let me not bore you too much with facts and figures but in a country where students' performance in public exams is in freefall then what it shows is a reflection of ineptitude, poor planning and the all too familiar mystic of corruption that pervades our various insitutions. You add that to the failure of effective teaching and learning a consequence of lack of investment in the teaching profession down the years.

Without trying to sound like a doom's day prophet, I do worry for the future of the average Nigerian child and the future of the country itself. The word education is derived from the latin word  ēducātiō meaning (“a breeding, a bringing up, a rearing) but with poor performances like this I do not see any bringing up of the next generation of leaders in various fields of life anytime soon. This no doubt portends great danger for what lies ahead in a world where knowledge is not only power but at the heart of ideas that create wealth.

We need to start making things and turn away from being a consumer nation. But to make that shift we need an educational system that is well resourced, focussed and driven by high standards. When we start making things, that is what leads to industralisation and creates jobs which leads to more productive people and a happier nation. The future is no longer tomorrow, the future is now unless history will be very unkind to us.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

When 200 becomes 180

The number 180 may not mean so much to many people but would probably now mean a great deal especially to thousands of university seekers in Nigeria. This is because the Joint Admissions Matriculation and Exam Board otherwise known as JAMB has decided in its wisdom to lower the university cut-off mark for students seeking admission into Nigerian universities. When asked if this meant a lowering of standard, Prof Ojerinde who is the JAMB registrar disagreed by saying "it's not true, what we are saying is that the entry qualification in terms of senior secondary certificate examination must be the same. Prof Ojerinde, who is the first Nigerian Professor of Tests and Measurement, would surely know a thing or two about standards so it is rather surprising if the quotes attributed to him are accurate. Now let me make it absolutely clear I have nothing against young people striving to make it to university and realise their life long dream of a university education. I am a beneficiary of Nigerian university education, so it would be foolish for me to suggest so. However, I have a problem when we dumb down standards for the sake of accommodating more students who clearly failed to meet the minimum score to be considered for admission.

The University Matriculation Exam is an entry level exam that has historically set its cut-off mark at 200 out of a possible 400 score. A score of 200 is equivalent to 50%, so in effect what we are saying is that a student with less than 50% score is good enough to go university. Well I disagree with that notion. First, we have to decide if university education is for everyone and in my view it isn't. We have had this open door approach to university education in the last 20 odd years or thereabout and it has created more problems that solutions which university education are there to solve in the first place.

One of the reasons why cultism has strived in Nigerian universities is because there are far many young people who have somehow got themselves into universities but have no business being there. I experienced this first hand during my time in university back in Nigeria. Universities in Nigeria have become breeding grounds for all sorts of promiscuous behaviour with many young gullible female students as victims. Again made possible because most of them should be no where near a university but a system that encourages mediocrity has somehow allowed every individual who can buy their way get into universities.

Universities are places for serious academic work and research and only meant for those students who can handle the rigour and demands that it provides. Sadly, the heavy decline in standards over the years has meant the rigour and demands of academic work has gradually faded away with serious allegations that abound relating to money and sex for grades. This is not to say those who go to university are somehow superior to people who choose not to, far from it. What it means quite simply is that you must have some level of aptitude to academic work to be able to cope. To suggest that somehow this move by JAMB would not in any way result in a drop in standards is either being in denial of what is at stake or at best rather naive. So what if future UME exams produce worse results with fewer students scoring less than 180, would that mean another lowering of cut off below 180? If we keep lowering standards in this way, there is only one direction for education to move in Nigeria and that is down I'm afraid.

Rather than keep lowering JAMB cut-off marks which is an exercise in futility, all stakeholders in education needs to go back to the drawing board and find out the real reasons why our young people are under performing. Let me once again draw attention to some of the main issues that needs to be addressed that would help us move forward. These issues includes to provide adequate funding and ensure it targets local needs for local schools. Invest heavily in infrastructure and reform teaching and learning by restructuring the current teacher education and training. Until we fix all that is wrong in our educational system, performance in UME exams will only get worse and we may reach the stage where there is no more cut-off marks to be lowered.