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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs