The growth of the economy and development of a country depend on its educational system. Researchers found out that investment in education or reforms positively affects the productivity of the labour force and that increases gross domestic product, GDP. To create a safer and more prosperous economy, the British Council hopes to use the 2014 edition of its Education UK Exhibition to contribute its quota towards developing the Nigerian educational system. Aside from that, Adetomi Soyinka, regional manager, West Africa, Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plans, CSFP, British Council Nigeria, explained that the platform would provide unique opportunities for students to meet one on one with representatives of over 50 UK universities, colleges and schools and get direct advice on the opportunities available to them to study in the UK and how to come back home to apply all they have learnt. “Nigeria is blessed with best brains in the world and they contribute to the growth of the education sectors of countries. We motivate them to come home and replicate same in Nigeria,” Soyinka said. She speaks with Abiola Odutola, staff writer. Excerpts:
How would you describe the state of education in Nigeria?
I had my entire educational experience in Nigeria, so I understand the system well. I would say that we are not where we want to be and this is something that the Nigerian government has accepted. The federal government has designed a road map to achieve that goal. The federal government, ministry of mducation and the National Universities Commission, NUC, have accepted that there are issues to be addressed in the sector. There are several issues, one of them is that our system does not encourage students to engage their teachers or lecturers and that affects them a lot, unlike what is obtainable in the UK, where students engage teachers and they are rated based on such engagement. Other issues are quality of graduates, lecturers and curriculum.
Some experts argue that the Nigerian educational curriculum does not encourage entrepreneurial skills. What is your take on this compared with what is obtainable in other climes?
I agree simply because we are churning out graduates but all of them will not work within corporate Nigeria. We need to be realistic about our expectation and the opportunities available within Nigeria. Nigerians are very entrepreneurial. We identify problems. Our environment encourages us to find solutions to problems that we identify in Nigeria. So I think that it would be a bonus if entrepreneurial education was embedded within the curriculum and I believe this is something the NUC is already working on with the Nigerian universities.
Comparing the Nigerian education system with other developed and developing countries’, how far are we from development?
Let me speak from the perspective of the average representative of a UK university. Now the main difference is that here, we are not encouraged to be engaged in our classrooms. We are encouraged to accept the information we were given and not question it. Now, the issue is, you have a product of Nigerian graduate who goes out into an international environment where engagement is essential; in fact it is part of the mark. Basically they need to change the way they think in other to survive in an international environment. That is one of the major problems that Nigerian students struggle with when you go outside Nigeria or abroad because you are now required to engage, required to interact. You are required to question the information you are given. You are required to, in some cases, argue with your lecturers. Nigerian students are products of a difficult environment but when you give them all the requirements, they outshine their counterparts.
What are the challenges the 12th annual Education UK Exhibition will address?
Nigerians that desire to study in the UK face so many challenges. Some of them are finding the right information and finding the right people to talk to. Illegal agents have swindled many of them. The exhibition offers a credible platform that has been created to offer information that is helpful with potential UK students. Students can also network with people that could help them in their career pursuit. There are experts who can give you immediate feedback. You can get an email address or telephone number to follow up on the information you get hold of. It will assist parents, students, guardians and head of schools to find the information that they need.
Apart from recruiting students, what are the other benefits of the exhibition to the Nigerian educational system?
There are issues that have been identified with Nigerian educational system now. The forum allows local institutions and Nigerian institutions to meet and seek what their requirements are within their own respective institutions. For example, if a Nigerian institution says it has issues with curriculum development (and) staff capacity building, it provides the opportunity for the two of them to meet if there are representatives from the two schools. They meet to discuss how they can partner and solve some challenges.Follow Us on Social Media