Becoming a Better Student in Nigeria

By Kingsley Anyata. Kingsley lives in Abakaliki, Nigeria. He is a microbiologist by profession and graduated from Ebonyi State University.

Being a successful student in Nigeria is neither tough nor simple, but depends greatly on your efforts, environment and commitment. It is appropriate to note that a student’s failure stems from the effort/commitment put in or the environment that influences this effort.

The Situation in Our Institutions of Learning

Since 2011, there has been a common trend in most institutions of higher learning in Nigeria. Each academic session seems to have had a percentage increment in tuition fees, while the quality of education is still on the decrease. The evidence can be found in the preference given to theoretical knowledge at the expense of practical aspects in our institutions of learning. The cost of getting educated in our institutions of higher learning is becoming unbearably high. While many are dropping out, most are still struggling to pull through, not minding this challenging trend.

Apart from the case of high tuition, everyday, tons of atrocities that continuously impede the effectiveness of our educational system are on the rise. They range from sexual abuse to cultism; of which corruption and bribery are not exempted. Money has significantly played a role as a grade enhancer. This, they euphemistically tagged with names like ‘Sorting or Blocking’. ‘Sorting or Blocking’ can be described as the act of paying money to the course lecturer for boosting academic grades. It is quite funny that in most schools, marks have a particular sum of money that they go for. 10% for 10,000 naira, 20% for 20,000 naira and so it goes on and on in an arithmetic progression. In effect, if for instance you had 10% in a course, that automatically means that for you to effectively block the course per say, you will need 35% to come out from F grade and 60% to go into A grade; hence 35,000 and 60,000 naira respectively, depending on which grade you want. Surprisingly, and at the same time unfortunately, our medical colleges are not excluded from this perturbing situation.

Recently, just some weeks back, I was performing my morning ritual of scanning through one of the national dailies. As I read the online punch news of 6thof August, 2015, titled, ‘Lecturer rapes 18-year-old admission seeker in Lagos’, cold shivers sent goose bumps all through my body. I was speechless, irritated and peeved. I sought where to channel my anger but could not find. The unsuspecting teenager could not have dreamt of being a victim of such circumstance, just because she went to the school with the lecturer to sort out her admission issues, like the story made me to understand. The first thought that crept into my subconscious was “This man should be severely punished, if investigation proves that he did it”. Who knows who his previous victims were, or who would be the next?

The situation in our institutions of learning portrays that of a pungent smell that would seem never to wear off, no matter how hard you scrubbed. Clearly, it has made it difficult for us to look into the future and smile at its brightness.

The Nigerian Student in the mist of all these

Students will one day grow into the key role players in the economy. As individuals, they would play a distinct role in the various sectors of the society. But it becomes totally or nearly impossible, when the environment assumes the position of a traitor in this regard, or when they purposely decide not to be meaningfully educated.

The Nigerian student faces a lot in our institutions of learning. This either molds him into a formidable personality or mars his progress and produces a less productive student. A student, who even lacks skills to help himself in the teaming nation where ‘survival of the fittest’ is the only alternative. A student filled with rage, detest and revenge motivated, who only wants to get back at the society for being so cruel. A student whose orientation is inappropriate. Finally, a student who has nearly nothing positive to offer to the society.

It is saddening that every year, Nigeria churns out thousands of graduates from our institutions who carry certificates devoid of character and proper learning. The few whom their certificates are laced with character and proper learning are still not given an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the restructuring of the society, because of the corruption in the public and private sector.

What We Can Do

In a case such as ours, there are just two key things that should be done to keep improving our education system. The two are: improving ourselves and improving our environment. How can we do this? As a matter of fact, we could improve ourselves, if only we could do the right thing always. Just like Nigerian artiste Cobhams Asuquo said in his song, ‘Do the right thing’, that it doesn’t matter who you are, just take a stand and do the right thing cause it doesn’t cost anything. The children, the teenagers, the youths and the adults should do the one thing that can make our nation okay, “The Right Thing“. To improve our environment, we have to make better education policies to accommodate tuition flexibility and infrastructural improvement. The policies have to make provisions for action to be taken to expunge corruption, sexual harassment, cultism and other ethical/moral decadence from our institutions of learning and the society in general. As we do this, we would gladly look forward to a better society and a better globalized world.

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