News

Nigerian Students Fight for Education

Students of the University of Ibadan check their graduation gowns at their campus in Ibadan, south west Nigeria (2006 file photo).
Students of the University of Ibadan check their graduation gowns at their campus in Ibadan, south west Nigeria (2006 file photo).
Heather Murdock

In Nigeria, about a million students pass the college-entrance qualifying exam every year, but most never attend a college class.  Nigerian universities can accommodate about 300,000 students yearly, leaving many of the country's brightest without hope for the future.  The situation leaves many would-be students poor and frustrated.

Hamzat Lawal is a political science student at the University of Abuja.  After he finished secondary school, he spent four years trying to get into college, despite the fact that he passed his qualifying exam with good grades - all four times he took it. 

Wheeling and dealing

Lawal says most students who pass, but do not have connections or hundreds of dollars for under-the-table payments, can spend years wheeling and dealing their way into college - and even that might not work.

"You want to gain admission even with your good grades or your low grades if you have that money they will secure admission for you," he said. So as a poor man, if you don’t have the money, where do you go to?"

Corruption watchdog group Transparency International ranks Nigeria at number 143 out of 183 countries, with education being perceived as one of the most corrupt departments after police, political parties and the legislature.

Not enough accommodation

Kabir Mato, the director of the Institute for Anti-Corruption Studies at the University of Abuja, says it is not just corruption that keeps students out of school.  He says most qualified students do not get in to college because there is simply no room.  

Mato says roughly 700,000 young people pass the university qualifying exams every year, but are not admitted.  He says that means that some of Nigeria’s brightest students never move beyond secondary school. "Most of those young boys and girls who have passed very well will not be accommodated and so they will grow hopeless," said Mato.

Mato says if more young people had access to higher education, there would be more development and less violence in Nigeria.  

Within the past week alone, attacks at a market in Potiskum, a Christian service in Kano and newspaper offices in Abuja and Kaduna have killed dozens of people.  Mato says many of the fighters are teenagers.

“In Nigeria today, whenever you have this crisis - religious crisis, ethnic crisis or whatever you call it - and you move to the streets and you see the fighting force, you see the soldiers and you’ll be amazed that they are 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20-year-olds,” he said.

Gap factor

Mato says the fact that the Nigerian elite can send their children to private schools or abroad for university widens the income gap between the rich and the poor.  In February, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reported that poverty is on the rise, with 61 percent of Nigerians living in “absolute poverty” which means they lack basic needs like adequate food, shelter and health care.

Mato blames the security issues, like the growth of the Islamist sect Boko Haram, on widespread poverty.

Azeez Akokhia has taken his entrance exam three times since he finished secondary school four years ago, passing with high scores every time.  He says he wants to study economics, but does not have much to do at the moment.  He says every year more people like him are added to the list of unemployed, unoccupied youth.

"You sit for the exams, you pass and you are not able to go in and the next year the same thing happens, people keep piling up, piling up and it’s a problem now," said Akokhia.

Akokhia agrees that lack of access to education, in general, contributes to security problems in Nigeria, but says most would-be students do not turn violent.   He says some give up hope and others, like him, fight only to get into university.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: James O
May 04, 2012 4:12 AM
Azeez: Education is light and without it u are no where; but some have the knowledge without utilizing it, it is what you pray for yourself to be that will come to pass. Keep on & it will come to be. bless u

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs