Friday, October 26, 2012

Money Matters in Nigerian Education

By: Kayla Hardimon
Produced and edited by: Molly Nocheck

The idea of all students having an equal opportunity to acquire an education has been a common topic of discussion in the United States. The idea is that the amount of money that parents make, or the community that a child lives in should not determine whether or not a child receives a good education. In Nigeria, this same problem with educational inequity exists. Problems arise because of the country’s system of pay to play education.

Equal education for all is not a reality for students in Nigeria. The set up of Nigeria’s education system plays a major role in student success or failure. In Nigeria, students have three stages of education; primary, secondary, and tertiary. The primary and secondary stages last for 6 years each. In a student’s final year of primary school they will take what is called the Common Entrance Exam. This exam determines not only whether or not a student has successfully completed their primary schooling but also whether they will go on to secondary school. Secondary school entrance acceptance is based on the scores that students receive on their Common Entrance Exam.

If a student does not score at or above the cutoff score for a school, they will not be considered for admission. How prepared a student is for their common entrance exam depends on the quality of education the student receives.

The education system is separated into public and private schools. Both types of schools require payment for all aspects of education.

Nosike Agokei the managing director of MTI ELC in Nigeria, says that the biggest problem is the difference between public and private schools. He says that public schools in Nigeria are not properly funded and that the lack of infrastructure creates a system of improper schooling.

Many students do not have tables and chairs says Agokei, “If you can afford it you enjoy better quality.”

Private schooling in Nigeria provides better resources and materials to students.

“Unfortunately majority of Nigerian parents are not able to afford tuition in private schools and so they send their children to public schools,” says Bella Anne Chinwendu Ndubuisi, a worker in the public relations section of the United States Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria.

The school that a Nigerian child attends is impacted by three things says Agokei; the perspective the parents have on education and the type of disciple they want their children’s school to have, the scores a child gets on the test, and how much money the parents have.

  Courtesy of Green Springs Schools.  Academic Fair Use.

“Private schools are better by and large,” says Agokei.

A child’s future in Nigeria begins with the location that they attend primary schooling. Tolu Adeusi, a consultant with TG March Nata Education an organization that helps students study abroad, says that he will not send his future children to public school in Nigeria because he believes that at public school they will be taught to be workers and they will not be taught math and other skills that they will need to succeed.

If a student’s family can afford to send them to a private primary school or a good federal government school, the child has a better chance at continuing on to secondary school.

A school’s ranking is based on how well the students do on the standardized exams. Mercedes Onyemenam, a Nigerian student studying at Case University, went to a top private school that used a British curriculum.

“We did a lot of practice questions, they really want every single person to understand what they’re saying, if one person doesn’t understand, they keep teaching the material. They drill it into your head.”

Damilola Darimola, a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Ohio University, was able to attend a strong public secondary school, the Federal Government College in Lagos Nigeria, he says that although it was public, it was not open to everyone. “Although it was a public school you still had to pay money,” said Darimola.

When speaking about public schools in Nigeria, Ndubuisi says that she was able to go to a public primary school at a time when the public school system was still strong, now, she says federal government schools have deviated from the “good old standards.”

She says that not all public schools are bad, but private schools are way better. The problem with attending a private school she says is that a student could get a college education in the United States with the tuition paid in some private primary schools.
 Courtesy of Action Aid Nigeria.  Academic Fair Use.

Government funding for schools is not high in Nigeria. Adeusi says that this is because “the government itself focuses on infrastructure not in connecting with the children.” This has left many public schools without the proper means to educate students, and other schools charging high prices for public education. Some students in Nigeria do not have access to education at all. Adeusi, an education consultant, says that in the Western part of Nigeria where many farming and rural areas exist, only 1 in 10 students go through proper education. “In other regions, it is less than one,” he says.

“We struggle to do everything for ourselves,” says Awana Adentux Isioma a student studying Modern Engineering at the Jo Marine Institute in Nigeria, “the government doesn’t provide.” Awele Nwankwo, a graduate of Plateau State Polytechnic University in Nigeria, says that without the help of his family in the United States he would not have had a proper education. Nwankwo’s immediate family did not have the money to pay for a good school.

Money is a driving factor for education in Nigeria. Parents who make enough money can send their children to any school that they choose, no matter what region the school is located in. Students who’s parents do not make a high enough salary are forced to attend schools with fewer resources and still obligated to pay in order to attend. No matter the quality of the education, it is not free. Money is determining the future for children in Nigeria rather than how much aptitude, drive, or determination the children possess.

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