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Why Finland’s Education System Is The Best In The World |The Republican News

Finland is consistently ranked at the top of the list of best education systems in the world. In fact, the World Bank recently declared the country “a miracle of education.”

On Universitas 21’s latest ranking of the world’s top universities, Finland finished top spot when levels of GDP per capita were considered – with impressive scores that exceeded expectations, given the country’s income level.

So, the big question is: What makes the Finland education system unique?

We did a close review and discovered some really interesting facts behind the success of this small and quiet north European country.

Less Formal Schooling

Contrary to the general norm nearly everywhere else on the globe, Finland believes less is more. And this philosophy is reflected in all facets of national life, including the education system.

Whereas the school starting age of kids in most countries keeps getting lower and lower, in Finland children don’t start formal school until they reach the age of seven. Yes, seven!

And, oh, for the record, that’s just about the oldest age to start school anywhere on the globe.

The children are given a lot of liberty. They are allowed to be children, to learn more naturally and informally through playing and exploring – rather than the formal system of children sitting locked up in a classroom with a teacher reading out instructional materials.

The goal and method of teaching are quite unique too. Teachers don’t focus on teaching pupils knowledge to help them pass a test or exam. Instead, the overall objective is to get the students to concentrate on things that will help them really understand the lessons and how to creatively apply the concepts in everyday life.

You may be asking: Won’t that approach slow them down? No, quite the opposite! The children start formal education when they are actually developmentally ready to learn and focus.

After the first year of school, the next stage for the child is nine years of compulsory schooling. At the end of the ninth grade, everything is optional and at the age of 16, the student can decide on any of three paths:

A three-year Upper Secondary School programme.

Join the workforce (Less than 5% of students follow this track).

Fewer Students, More Individual Attention

You probably already imagined this scenario. You guessed right. Fewer students in a class often mean the teacher can provide better care and attention to the pupils.

Typically, a Finnish teacher is assigned about 3 to 4 classes of 20 students a day, so they are responsible for between 60 to 80 students daily. This is a more reasonable number and a lot smaller than the average teacher in most other countries has to manage every weekday.

Less Time in School, Fewer Instructions

In Finland, school usually starts at 9 am or 9:45 am; and ends by 2 pm or 2:45 pm. Surprised? There’s more: The average Finnish teacher provides fewer instructions to his/her students in a day than the regular teacher elsewhere in the world.

When computed, the total instruction time clocks to about 600 hours a year or 4 lessons daily. But here’s the catch: The topics are fewer but more in-depth. The focus of the lessons is not in the period or number, but on creativity, skill acquisition, and real-world application.

The younger kids are allowed sufficient time to play, so they can discover, be creative, and learn in the process. When they are 7, they start formal schooling and are taught how to read and write.

For the older kids also, there’s a deliberate effort to avoid the pupils getting too tired or stressed so they can learn well. They are given only a reasonable amount of homework, have a fewer number of school days a term compared to other kids around the world, and take 10 to 20 minutes breaks between the lessons.

During the breaks, the children are allowed to go outside and play, so they can focus on studying again. The children also eat free, healthy lunch at school. The end goal is to ensure both the students and teachers are well rested and ready to learn/teach.

The System Prioritizes Play

We already mentioned that Finnish students get the least amount of homework in the world, as the focus is to allow the pupils adequate free time, play, breaks, and rest, so their minds are sharper and their body well relaxed and refreshed for learning.

Students in Finland typically don’t have afterschool tutors or lessons. It sounds ironic when you take into account that Finnish students score higher than students from Asian countries who receive tons of extra lessons or afterschool instructions.

Finnish students get the work done in class diligently, and teachers feel that is adequate. There are no pressures on the students to do more than what is necessary to learn a skill. And when there are assignments, they are often open-ended and not really graded.

Teaching as a Profession Is Revered

Most students in both developing and developed countries rarely think of teaching as a career choice, perhaps after observing the profession is generally undervalued and their teachers often underpaid.

The reverse is the case in Finland – specifically in terms of the treatment and respect accorded to teachers.

Teaching is a very prestigious profession in Finland. Teachers work fewer hours and are paid relatively well compared with their colleagues in many other countries. They are also entrusted with the authority to plan their teaching in a way they think best suits their students.

Teaching is an extremely selective profession in Finland, and it’s not easy to get accepted in the special programme to qualify as a teacher. In fact, you have to be well motivated and gifted to make the grade.

But before applying for the teacher’s education programme, it is mandatory you have a master’s degree in your subject. That is if you’re going to take any of the high school or middle school classes.

If you’re applying to be a kindergarten, preschool or elementary school teacher, you must also have a master’s degree or at least a bachelor’s degree.

No Standardized Testing

While the practice in most countries is that students take standardised tests and exams to track their progress, in Finland students take just a single test, called the National Matriculation Exam, during their entire time in elementary or high school.

However, the test assessment is more than just what the student scores. Rather, it measures the general academic maturity level of the student, which are standards by which a mature, educated person is evaluated in Finnish society.

Free Education at All Levels

Finland is one of the few countries in the world that offer absolutely free bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programmes — not only for its own citizens but also students from European Union and EEA countries.

Yes, you read right: International students from eligible countries studying any course in Finnish universities do not pay a penny in tuition. There are no fancy private schools or universities anywhere with their own study plans. Instead, there’s a national standard for what every school must teach.

In Finland, capitalism (which, for example, allows you to pay to get good education for your child or yourself) is seen as a system that produces a mass of ignorant people versus a small, well-educated elite; thereby making poor education/good education, and poverty/wealth divides kind of “hereditary.”

In summary, Finnish society is a welfare state and aims at taking care of everybody, not just those that can afford it. Naturally, it starts with universal healthcare, in which families receive medical care when needed in any of the comprehensive networks of child welfare clinics.

So, the much-lauded Finnish education system is only an extension of a grounded tradition of a welfare state. Besides, Finland appears to be very conscious of the important roles teachers play in moulding and influencing the next generation and consequently invests heavily (time, efforts and resources) in the recruitment process and general education system. (theischooler.com)

 

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Woman Celebrates Her Housemaid Of 13 Years, Who Got Admission Into Higher Institution

By TCR NEWS

She wrote:

“I am proud of us…

On 17th February, 2005, my husband brought her home as my house help. She was smaller than l wanted. I needed a much bigger girl, but the mum could only allow her as the elder sister was elsewhere. The only option was to manage her, but managing meant that l had to nurse her as she was too small to even wash her own clothes, the breakable kitchenwares etc.

It wasn’t also easy to raise a child with certain orientations.

But l tried. When the task became too tedious,

I packaged her home, but the father gave us a mind boggling question: if she is your daughter, will you throw her away? Please, train her as yours. I want her different.

As stunning as that question sounded, l thank God that l took that challenge seriously and to my heart.

I teach, I scream, I plead, l appeal and l advice…

To make sure she turns out better than she would.

Sometimes, she makes me furious, laugh, cry, and proud, just like now.
From Primary 2, she had gone through to secondary, made her papers, have trained on computer literacy before going for skill acquisition.

Today, she has moved to a higher level. She is matriculating at Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, and l am so happy that our 13 years together is not a waste after all.

She has long ceased to be a maid in my home.

She is now Aunty’s Auntie, my little sister, my children’s Auntie. And no one knows she is not my sibling.

Uchechi, today is the beginning of a new life for you.

We are happy for you. Sky is your jumping pad.

We pray that you graduate with flying colours. And we continue to pray for financial breakthrough so that you do not suffer any stress concerning your education.

Congratulations, dear. We are super proud of you.”

 

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We’re Not Elected To Only Pay Salaries – Governors’ Forum |RN

  • Resign if you can’t pay, workers tell govs

 

Olusola Fabiyi and Eniola Akinkuotu

Governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have said that they are not elected to only pay salaries of civil servants.

They argued they were also elected to provide good roads, electricity, education and other necessary amenities for the people.

They said there was no way they could perform magic if there were no funds to work with.

They, therefore, called for the examination of the national income in the last 14 years to enable them to agree on the contentious issue of minimum wage implementation.

Chairman of the NGF, who is also the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, made their position known to journalists after the meeting of the governors in Abuja on Wednesday night.

One of our correspondents reports that the committee working on the minimum wage is almost concluding negotiations on the matter.

The Federal Government had set a September date to roll out a new minimum wage for workers.

The Nigeria Labour Congress is proposing a minimum wage of N65,000 for workers, but the governors are insisting on the gradual implementation of the new wage if eventually approved.

Yari said it was a pity that state governors had been limited to the payment of salaries alone in their respective states.

He said the lack of funds had hindered them from carrying out their responsibilities in other sectors such as health, electricity, education, roads, among others.

On minimum wage, he said, “We have a committee of six which represents us in discussions in the committee headed by the Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige.

“The committee has yet to give us the final report. They have given us an interim report that at the Federal Government level, over 82 per cent is being spent on overheads which cannot move the country forward in terms of infrastructure development and development that we need now.

“So, on our own part, we are saying we are going to look at how our income is taken from our final account from 14 years ago so that we can come up and stay in the middle.”

He added, “I don’t think you people voted us only to pay salaries. You are looking for good roads, electricity, education and others. So, we can’t do magic. It’s only when we have the funds that we can do all those things.”

He disclosed that the governors also deliberated on the way the anti-graft agencies had been handling the war on corruption in the country.

He said that the governors resolved that both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corruption and other Related Offences Commission must adhere strictly to due process.

He said the agencies must not engage in illegalities.

He said while the governors supported the present administration’s effort to curtail corruption, they were however not comfortable with some of the actions taken by the nation’s anti-corruption agencies.

He berated the EFCC for freezing the accounts of both Benue and Akwa Ibom states, adding that even President Muhammadu Buhari will not support the illegalities perpetrated by the agencies.

“We believe strongly that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari would not sit down and supervise this illegality in the system.

“What we are saying is that we all support the government to fight corruption because it is endemic and has retarded the nation for over six decades. Definitely, it was part of what we discussed.

“What we are saying now is that we are going to support the government in terms of what it is doing to fight corruption, but due process must be respected in whatever action the agencies are going to take in the name of fighting corruption. That is the position of the governors,” he said

Resign if you can’t pay, workers tell govs

In response to the governor’s position, the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Peter Ozo-Eson, has lambasted the state chief executives.

Ozo-Eson, while speaking with one of our correspondents on the telephone on Thursday, said it was ironic that governors who were mismanaging the resources of their states still had the guts to complain that they did not have enough funds to pay salaries.

The NLC official said governors should be mindful of the fact that payment of salaries was not a favour but a sacred obligation.

He said the civil service remained the vehicle through which any government could fulfil its campaign promises.

Ozo-Eson said that without the payment of salaries, it would be almost impossible for any governor to meet his campaign promises.

He added, “The issue that they were not elected to pay salaries alone is unfortunate. Salaries are not a gift to people; salaries are compensation for workers helping to deliver governmental services. So, let them not talk as if salaries being paid to people are gifts.

“Salaries constitute part of the cost of delivering government services. Some of these governors fly chartered planes even within the country all from the state’s purse. Are they elected to drain the coffers of the state they are meant to govern? It will be rather unfortunate if they start playing politics with salaries and if they so do, Nigerians should be wise enough to also meet them at the polls.”

On the issue of the N65,000 minimum wage, the NLC secretary-general said no figure had been agreed on by the organised labour.

Ozo-Eson called on the governors not to take decisions based on rumours.

He added, “So, the question of reviewing the N65, 000 downwards doesn’t arise. People are bandying figures and we do not know where they emanated from but if the governors who are represented on the tripartite committee by six governors act on a rumour that is outside of the committee and using it as a basis to take a position, then that is rather unfortunate.”

Also speaking, the National President of the Trade Union Congress, Boboi Kaigama, said any governor that was not capable of paying salaries should resign.

Kaigama said payment of salaries was the most basic form of good governance.

The TUC boss said the organised labour had been advising governors to be imaginative by increasing the Internally Generated Revenues of their states but many of them were too lazy to think outside the box, preferring to go to Abuja cap-in-hand for handouts.

Kaigama added, “It is not an issue of having other responsibilities. Why are they not talking of good governance, blocking of leakages? This will enable them to pay the minimum wage and deliver the dividends of democracy to their citizens.

“We are the wealth creators and we believe we are entitled to our wages which are subject to periodic review because the inflationary trend has taken its toll on the people. In fact, in the public service, no worker’s salary can last more than a week.

“We keep saying that if any governor feels he cannot pay salaries, it means he cannot govern the state and he should tender his resignation letter. We know some governors are doing extremely well in the area of IGR but we know of some others who are waiting for handouts from FAAC.”  (Punch)

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FG Plans To Declare Emergency In Education Sector In April |RN

school-kids-in-Africa1

Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu has said the Federal Government will declare a state of emergency in the education sector in April.

He disclosed this when he received Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani-Bello and some members of his cabinet at the Education Ministry headquarters in Abuja, yesterday.

Adamu requested the support of all states governors to do the same in their respective states.

“By the end of April, we are proposing there will be a declaration of state of emergency in the education sector all over the country.

“We request all the state governors to do same in their states and we hope that once this is done our educational sector will improve.

“I will also meet with the governors to appeal to them to give special emphasis to address the problem of low standard of education especially at primary level,” he said.

Earlier, Bello said the state government is revamping the educational sector through provision of good infrastructure in schools and training of teachers.   (The Sun)

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From West Africa To Baltimore: A Ghanaian Long Path To Education For A Hopkins Star

 

Tim Prudente
George Mwinnyaa                               © Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/TNS George Mwinnyaa

 

The remote bushlands of West Africa are far from Johns Hopkins University, and the path was neither sure nor straight for the boy whose name meant “beloved by his ancestors.” They called him Kpimenongme Mwinnyaa.

Only now, as he prepares to graduate – having been baptized George, having earned semester after semester of straight A’s despite grades once too poor for college – does he dare believe it’s more than a dream.

George Mwinnyaa, 29, will receive a bachelor’s degree in public health with academic honors during Hopkins’ commencement Wednesday.

Mwinnyaa, who is from Ghana, says he slips on a woven African smock each morning to remember where his path began.

“If you don’t know where you come from, you will not know where you are going,” he says.

He comes from a remote village in Nandom-Guo, where a cobra bite kills fast and cholera even faster. Polygamy was the custom and his father had seven wives and 32 children. George was the youngest of them all. He was about five years old when his father died and his widowed mother was left to raise seven children. A slight woman, she held off starvation with her wits, boiling hot peppers into soup. A few spoonfuls would cause George to gulp water to ease his hunger.

Each morning he woke before sunrise to fetch water from the river and hoe the dry plot that never grew enough beans. Then he walked a path through the bush to cinder-block desks arranged beneath a shea tree, a place they called school.

He earned poor grades, C’s at best. When he led his class in the morning routine, he burned with shame from the holes in his pants; he had no underwear.

Somehow, his mother managed to pay his school fees. Monica Naaludong persuaded teachers to take him when his tuition was late. She sold her traditional beads and hand-woven cloths to afford his books. George held back his frustration when she insisted education was more important than a full belly.

“She knew that education was a way to change not only me, but my whole family’s destiny,” he said.

His grades were too poor for college, but Ghana’s health department offered to train traveling health workers. Two years later, he was riding a motorbike to rural villages, immunizing children against yellow fever and polio. He waded across rivers carrying vaccines on his head. He taught mothers breastfeeding methods and measured the heartbeats of their babies.

He earned less than $9 a day, a life-changing salary, and bought his mother the traditional cloths she once sold for his books.

In the coastal city of Esiama he met a Peace Corps worker from Alaska, and all his questions about America tumbled out. He saw a job opening online for a health worker in Haiti. What was a resume? he asked her.

“I was like, ‘He’ll never be able to save enough money for a plane ticket, but I’ll help with a resume,'” Leslie Lucas said.

When they walked along the beach, she told herself it was customary for friends to hold hands in Ghana. But they married in a local chapel in August 2012. One year later, the couple boarded an airplane and flew to America.

A surprise arrival

Dr. Henry Perry taught Hopkins students about Ghana’s health workers for nearly a decade before one showed up on his campus in Baltimore. It was spring 2016, and Perry heard of a transfer who had worked in the Ghana community health service.

“To have one of them end up coming here to our university is entirely unusual,” said Perry, a professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “I don’t know if this has ever happened.”

He invited George Mwinnyaa to share his experience with a class. Later, he learned of the young man’s path.

George and Leslie Mwinnyaa had settled in the suburbs east of Reno, Nevada, where she worked as a school counselor. George walked the mile each day to Fernley Elementary School and his job as a janitor.

The admissions office at University of Nevada, Reno, turned him down. Nearby Truckee Meadows Community College requested his high school transcripts. George didn’t even have a birth certificate. He passed an exam to enter Western Nevada College and made the dean’s list.

American colleges had libraries and tutors, he discovered. Professors even held office hours. The young man who was raised without any advantages was now embracing every one.

“You have the Internet. You have light. How does somebody fail in America?” he said.

He watched college lectures on YouTube again and again, telling himself he must study twice as hard to compete. He transferred to Truckee Meadows and earned an associate’s degree in spring 2015, finishing with a 4.0 GPA. He was inducted in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. One day he burst into the office of his biology professor with news. Johns Hopkins University offered him a scholarship. Now his path led to the nation’s premier public health program.

“That was his ultimate dream,” said Laura Briggs, his biology professor at Truckee Meadows.

She threw a farewell party for George and Leslie Mwinnyaa and guests passed around a hat to collect money for the couple’s drive to Baltimore. They left the next day with their 3-week-old son, Yiri.

George Mwinnyaa entered Hopkins in fall of 2015 and began acing classes. By spring, he was enrolled in Professor Karen Masterson’s science writing class, where she presented a live video lecture by a Dutch expert. George asked if he might address the expert on the screen.

“George gave this eloquent, smart thank-you that was about a minute long,” Masterson said. “I didn’t even think to do that and I was the professor, right?”

She went to the academic adviser for public health students, asking, “Who is George?”

By then, the adviser, Lisa Folda, had befriended the young father. She gave him the old stroller and baby gate in her basement.

“We don’t take many transfers. We definitely take a very few from community college,” she said. “To know George’s origin story and how he wound up in Reno was to know he wasn’t going to take any opportunity for granted.”

He was selected last year from more than 100 applicants around the country who applied for about 15 prestigious undergraduate scholarships from the National Institutes of Health. He will work this summer at a lab in East Baltimore, testing blood samples from South Africans with HIV.

In boyhood, George Mwinnyaa walked barefoot on a dirt path to school from a house built of mud and cow dung. On Wednesday, he will walk his shortest yet longest path of all: across Hopkins’ graduation stage.    (Baltimore Sun)

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11-yr-old Student Told By Lousiana Teacher ‘Go And Kill Yourself’, Says Authorities

 

Kristine Phillips
           For months, an 11-year-old girl was bullied.

Authorities say other students were forced to start a fight with her.

At one point, they say, she was told to “go and kill yourself.”

The person responsible, according to investigators, is the girl’s seventh-grade teacher, Ann Shelvin, who’s now facing criminal charges. Another school employee, Tracy Gallow, who replaced Shelvin after she was escorted off the school grounds, is also facing charges for continuing the bullying, St. Landy Parrish Sheriff Bobby J. Guildroz said.

The two are employees at Washington Elementary School in Opelousas, La., about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge.

Ann Shelvin (left) and Tracy Gallow are accused of repeatedly bullying an 11-year-old student. The two are employees at Washington Elementary School in Opelousas, La.© St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office Ann Shelvin (left) and Tracy Gallow are accused of repeatedly bullying an 11-year-old student. The two are employees at Washington Elementary School in Opelousas, La.

Guildroz said the 11-year-old’s mother first came to his office in February to report the bullying, although it apparently had been going on since last fall. The mother was told to report the incident to the St. Landry Parish School Board.

More than a month later, the mother returned to the sheriff’s office because the bullying had continued. Guildroz said an investigation revealed that Shelvin had told the 11-year-old to kill herself and threatened to fail three of her students if they didn’t start a fight with the girl.

One of the students admitted to detectives that Shelvin forced her to take part in the fight and that she did so because she was scared she would be treated like her classmate and fail seventh grade. Several students were sent to the principal’s office because of the fight.

Earlier this week, the girl’s mother told investigators Shelvin has been bullying her daughter since October of last year when the teacher threatened the 11-year-old that she’d fail her if she didn’t fight another student, Guildroz said. But instead of doing what Shelvin said, the girl, whom authorities did not name, reported her teacher to the principal.

Shelvin was then escorted out of the school. Gallow, a teacher’s aide who replaced her, was later seen on school video surveillance pushing the girl at the school gym, authorities said.

Shelvin, 44, was charged this week with two counts of encouraging or contributing to child delinquency, one count of malfeasance in office and two counts of intimidation and interference in the operation of schools. Gallow, 50, was charged with one count each of malfeasance in office, simply battery and intimidation, and interference in school operation.

It’s unclear if they have attorneys.

“Students should not have to attend school and be bullied especially by teachers that are there for their education, guidance, and safety,” Guildroz said in a statement. “The parents did the right thing, they reported it to the school board and continued to monitor and talk to their children. The bullying continued and they took the next step by contacting law enforcement again.”

Anthony Stanberry, a member of the St. Landry Parish School Board, told KLFY that school officials will not tolerate such incidents.   (The Washington Post)

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South African Student, Age 23 Bags Her PhD In Psychology, Making Her Youngest Female In The Continent

Shenaaz Jamal

Congratulations to 23 year old Musawenkosi Saurombe. She is the youngest female PHD Graduate in Africa with a Research thesis of No Corrections & Ammendments
Image by: Facebook/NWU Mafikeng Campus

Musawenkhosi Sourambe has become one of the youngest students on the continent to obtain a PhD at the age of 23 at North-West University.

North West University said she had obtained her PhD with no corrections being made to her thesis‚ which was flawless.

Sourambe started school at the age of four in Gaborone‚ Botswana. When she was in grade three her teacher promoted her to grade four after the first school term.

“My parents had to explain to my teachers after wanting to promote me to other grades that I needed time to mature and it was true because when I got to university I struggled‚” she said.

Sourambe matriculated at the age of 15 and started a BCom degree at 16. She received an honours degree at 19 and master’s degree by the age of 21- with distinction.

Her initial years at university were tough‚ she added‚ because she struggled to relate to other university students.

“I had a lot of responsibility from a young age and my peers had more liberty than I did because I was so young‚” she said.

“I couldn’t act my own age. I always had to be more matured and some of my peers didn’t know how old I was‚” she said.

Sourambe‚ who has already joined a doctoral fellowship at North West University‚ said she had a few academic conferences lined up overseas for the rest of the year. She is involved in teaching and supervising postgraduate students at NWU’s campus in Mahikeng.

Her goal now is to get a driver’s licence. She was too young to get one after matric and too busy completing her third year at university when she turned 18.    (TimesLive)

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Returnee Graduates Struggle As Emploers Snub Foreign Degrees |The Republican News

TOLUWANI ENIOLA writes that with the current economic recession, overseas-trained Nigerians who spent millions of naira on foreign degrees, are finding it difficult to secure jobs after returning home

After spending over £15000 (over N4m) and more than a year of rigorous studies at the Birmingham City University, United Kingdom, Titus Agu’s joy knew no bounds in 2014 when he successfully completed a master’s degree programme in Environmental Sustainability.

Brandishing his certificate with smiles, Agu posed in his convocation robe as the photographer took turns to capture the moment. He believed that with his second degree, his dream to be gainfully employed in one of Nigeria’s multinational companies was about to come to reality.

Agu’s expectation was that upon arrival in Nigeria, he would be gainfully employed to compensate for the huge cost of his education in the UK. This is because, in the nation’s labour market, those who study abroad often get better recognition than their counterparts from varsities in the country.

The same degree could be obtained for less than £2000 (N500, 000) in Nigerian universities. But the prestige attached to a UK education and the prospects of getting a good job in the country often makes Britain and other foreign countries a desirable option.

According to a 2016 ranking of universities across the world released by the Centre for World University, no Nigerian university is ranked among the world’s top 1000 varsities.

Things started to fall apart for Agu when he could not get a job months after returning to the country. Applying to relevant companies suddenly became a frustrating routine. He got no response from the scores of places he submitted his curriculum vitae to and the only interview he attended was not successful.

Sharing his experience with SUNDAY PUNCH, Agu said, “I left for the UK in 2012 for further studies because of the prestige and quality of education in Birmingham City University.

“I expected that I would have a better chance of securing a job in top-ranked companies in Nigeria. I chose the UK because the mode of learning there is better compared to Nigerian varsities.

“When I returned home, I applied to many companies but got no response. It’s very unfortunate that my master’s degree certificate could not fetch me a job in the country, especially when one considers the investment put into getting an elite education.”

Agu noticed that he was getting frustrated and humbly became an apprentice to a local cobbler to learn shoemaking, after sitting idle at home for months.

According to him, becoming a cobbler, despite having two degrees, is akin to a curse. But he has been able turn the ‘curse’ into a blessing.

Narrating his experience, he said, “Learning shoemaking didn’t go down well with many who felt that I was demeaning myself making shoes because I hold a master’s degree from the UK. Becoming a cobbler despite my education was a foolish decision to some people. They felt that with a foreign degree, I shouldn’t be doing what is considered a job for uneducated folks in the country. Joblessness spurred me to consider entrepreneurship.”

Pains of foreign degrees

Agu’s fruitless search for job is the same fate many Nigerians who spent millions of dollars and pounds to study in the UK, US, Canada and other countries suffer.

Every year, owing to the low quality of education in some Nigerian varsities, job prospects and better opportunities, many Nigerian students opt for overseas education.

The 2016 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange indicated that 10,674 Nigerians were studying in the United States during the 2015-16 academic year.

The report, published annually by the Institute of International Education, in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, stated that the figure marked the highest number of Nigerians studying in the United States since 1986. There are millions of Nigerians studying in the UK, Canada, Russia, Ghana among others.

The upsurge of interest in foreign universities’ degrees is fuelled by the perception that such degrees command prestige back home and gives the holders an edge over other job seekers who studied in Nigerian universities.

But with the biting hardship caused by the economic recession, these returnee graduates are no longer as popular as they used to be.

Some of them, who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH, said their failure to get jobs at home made them feel that their acquisition of education abroad was a waste of resources.

Ada Ihuoma, a 24-year-old MBA graduate of the University of Huddersfield, UK, has been searching for jobs to no avail since she returned home from the UK a year ago.

Ihuoma, who obtained a BSc degree in Nigeria before travelling to the UK, said she was beginning to regret spending over N6m, the estimated cost of her MBA in the UK, because of her inability to get a job.

“My job search has been fruitless since I returned to Nigeria. After earning a degree in Computer Science, I couldn’t get a job. So, rather than wait for a job, I reasoned that an MBA would not only increase my chances of securing a job but also boost my education profile.

“Some days ago, after ruminating on my inability to secure a job in Nigeria, I wished I had the N6m I used in obtaining the MBA. There are so many lucrative business ideas I would like to prosecute now. Although I do not regret going abroad to study, I don’t find it funny that I am jobless,” she told SUNDAY PUNCH.

Also, Yewande Osamein, a graduate of Advertising at the University of West-London, is facing a similar challenge. Since she returned to Nigeria last year, Osamein said employers have not been forthcoming with responses on her series of applications for jobs.

Osamein said she spent up to N20m on her degree, adding that the hope of getting quality education and better job chances also made her consider travelling to the UK.

“Getting a job, even with a UK-degree in Nigeria is daunting. Inability to get a job after investing much in education is frustrating. It is high time the governments raised the bar of the country’s educational system for an enabling environment for the youth to get jobs,” she told our correspondent.

Big loss for Nigeria

Recent statistics released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics showed that the economic recession has led to 1.5 million job losses. In the 2016 report on underemployment and unemployment in Nigeria, the NBS stated that the country’s unemployment rate rose from 10.4 per cent in the last quarter of 2015 to 12.1 per cent. The fear of unemployment has led to an increase in the proportion of Nigerians who stay in their countries of study after graduation.

Since he graduated three years ago from a Russian university, Bode Ngochindo, told our correspondent that the frightening unemployment situation in Nigeria had made him stay back in Russia. Ngochindo said unemployment was scaring many Nigerian graduates from returning home.

He added that many Nigerian students with brilliant ideas considered it unwise to return home because of the low chances of achieving their visions in the country.

Just like Ngochindo, Fadekemi Adetosoye, a Political Science bachelor’s degree holder from the University of Pittsburgh, US, is not finding it easy getting a job with her degree which she spent about N55m to obtain.

She is employed in the United States but would not risk coming back home because her applications for job in Nigeria have not been fruitful.

Adetosoye, who shared her story with SUNDAY PUNCH, said, “I currently work as a consultant in the US. I am hoping to apply the experience in the Nigerian market. I have had difficulty applying on the websites of a few multinational companies, and it has also been a challenge to reach out to their HR contacts as well.

“It usually involves knowing someone who can help link one in the right direction to get things going. It’s tough, but that’s the nature of things. I guess, and I’ve learned to accept it and adapt as needed.”

Apart from the fact that Nigeria is losing some of its best brains to other countries, the nation is losing millions of dollars yearly due the rush for overseas education.

Experts say the rush to foreign varsities by Nigerian students underscored the importance of an urgent overhaul of the country’s university system.

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Exam Ethics International, estimated that Nigeria lost N1.5tr as capital flight to overseas education. The estimated loss figure of N1.5tr is more than one-sixth of the country’s 2016 budget.

Stakeholders say the UK, US, Canada, South Africa, Ghana and other the countries are inadvertently profiting from the failure of Nigeria to revamp its university education.

The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the rush for overseas education was unfortunate, noting that if the Federal Government could invest in the education sector, Nigerians would be encouraged to study at home.

Ogunyemi, who lamented the loss to overseas education, said he envisioned a new Nigeria typical of the 1950s and 1960s when citizens of other African countries came to study in Nigerian varsities.

He said, “I think we should first ask why Nigerian students are going out to study abroad. If we fix our educational system, we will stop this exodus and education tourism. Considering the amount of money we are losing, it calls for concern.

“Ultimately, we have to address the issue of why our youths are going abroad for education in places that ordinarily would not have been of interest to them. Many of them are also taking risks by going to volatile areas.”

Also, a financial expert, Yemi Soladoye, in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, maintained that the country was losing too much to overseas education in foreign exchange.

Soladoye asked the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to revamp universities in each region of the country so that Nigerians would be encouraged to study in the country.

“I cannot blame parents and guardians who prefer their wards to study abroad. These parents are not necessarily rich but they believe that quality education is the greatest legacy they can give their children.

“But this rush for overseas education calls for concern. It is an opportunity for the government to invest in education because we are losing much in foreign exchange. I will encourage the government to build world-class universities. This is achievable if we put resources into this.”

Returnee graduates losing relevance

A human resources manager at a job recruitment firm in Lagos, Toju Ashogbon, told our correspondent that his firm has over 2,000 CVs of Nigerians with foreign degrees in its inventory looking for jobs.

Ashogbon said the applicants are no longer as attractive as they used to be as employers now prefer hiring graduates from the country’s private varsities because they could offer them less renumeration than overseas graduates.

The HR expert noted that its firm had secured employments for over 500 graduates, including those who studied in the UK, the US and other top destinations, with the average starting salaries ranging from N80,000 to N120,000 monthly.

“Graduates from private universities in Nigeria have a competitive edge over those returning from the UK, US and others. Clients now prefer hiring graduates of private universities because they can offer them a little less than the foreign graduates and still get the same quality of job delivery and performance.

“Owing to the recession, a candidate who is good and can take less is preferred to one who studied abroad, who usually have higher expectations in terms of salaries,” he told SUNDAY PUNCH.

Another HR expert, Afolabi Akindele, buttressed Ashogbo’s views. He maintained that graduates who studied abroad have lost their advantage in the local market because they often lack the skills needed in organisations.

He stressed that skills acquisition was as important as the quality of education.

Speaking on ways to be successful in the crowded labour market, Akindele said, “Graduates, who studied either in Nigeria or abroad, should focus on skills acquisition rather than mere paper qualifications. It is a big problem for us in Nigeria because we tend to celebrate paper qualification than skills.

“That’s why some people claim to have studied abroad and when you give them the job, they cannot do it. The graduates need to invest in skills acquisition, developing problem-solving competencies and leadership qualities. These are what organisations are looking out for in any candidates. An organisation wants to solve problems. If you don’t have the required skills to solve the organisation’s problems, your paper qualification, irrespective of how prestigious the university which issued it, it is useless.”

Ashogbon advised the returnee graduates to consider entrepreneurship, noting that their frustration in getting jobs back home points to the fact that Nigeria needs more of job creators than job seekers.

Agu called on graduates who are finding it difficult to get jobs to embrace entrepreneurship.  According to him, he now lives a better life after he made the decision to learn a trade.

He said, “Being a cobbler has become very rewarding for me although there are many challenges. The beauty of it is that I now have my shoemaking business which I have been running for over one year. I make more money than most companies would have paid me monthly and I am happy.

“I engage about 10 workers who are also learning the trade under my supervision. Creating shoe factories in all cities of Nigeria is my goal. The same people who jeered at me for becoming a cobbler despite my UK degree now patronise me for footwear.” (Punchng.com)

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