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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora