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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.