August 9, 2012

Experience of Nigerian students studying abroad

By Betty Inegbenebor

The quest for foreign education is on the increase despite the huge cost of financing such ventures. This quest has made the United Kingdom, USA, Ghana and Benin Republic choice destinations for Nigerians who desire to school abroad.

According to a recently published research by the British Council, it was predicted that the number of Nigerian students in the UK would have risen from just 2,800 in 2007, to 30,000 by 2015, while it is on record that 246 billion naira fuels the UK education sector.

But despite all the difficulties encountered in acquiring foreign education, many Nigerians still don’t have it easy as they are faced with numerous challenges, chief of which is racism.

Quadlife sought to know from Nigerian students schooling abroad what they have to endure in pursuit of their education as most foreign study agencies don’t place on their advert pages the ugly stories of racism, stomach churning bills and tax.

Recounting his most unforgettable racism encounter, Donald Tombia, a student in the UK, said: “I was out with my friend and we were in a bus when an elderly white woman that I was seated beside suddenly shifted. I was baffled because the way she did it made it look like I was smelling, a thief or suicide bomber. I ignored her and started speaking pidgin with my friend when, to my surprise, she sighed and asked us to speak English.

“I still ignored her and continued talking with my friend in pidgin, then she blurted: ‘you think you blacks are smart, you come into my country to further your education and plant yourselves in here.’ She said a lot of humiliating stuff, to the extent of insulting my forefathers. It took the intervention of a Ghanaian lady to pacify me.”

Referring to the high taxes that one has to pay, Tombia said he would prefer to come back to Nigeria rather than stay back and work in the UK.

“This is because of the wealth creation opportunities as when you work in the UK, you have the tax, health bills, accommodation bills, light, gas, transport and all sorts of bills to pay. It gets to a point where you are just able to afford your clothes and food.”

For Ken, the racism encounter almost cost him his life as the traffic warden on duty didn’t care that he hadn’t yet crossed the road. “I had to go get something and I think there was an accident on the road and there was this warden controlling the traffic. Two white guys were in front of me and we wanted to cross the road.

“The warden signaled the cars to stop, and immediately those boys crossed, he signaled for the cars to move while I was half way crossing the road. I thought I was going to get crushed but still this man didn’t care. He made me stand in the middle of the road for a long while and it was by the grace of God I managed to cross.”

In the words of Moslin Edden Saudi, ‘a traveller without observation is like a bird without wings.’ Despite the bitter encounters of some students, there are still others that are full of praises for foreign education systems.

Inemesit Okodi said: “Schooling in the UK is the best opportunity anyone can have. Reasons are; the certificates are recognised worldwide depending on your level of accomplishment. There are more competent teachers, more facilities, I’m talking as a science student so emphasizing on the facilities. Yes, I have been given the greatest opportunity in life.”

Olaitan Laniya, an ex-resident and student in the UK said: “My experience studying in the UK was okay because everything is at your disposal. But back in Nigeria, the environment is not conducive for learning and most students don’t know about plagiarism as it’s all about copy and paste. In Nigeria, you pay for your handouts whereas, over there, you get it free from your lecturers or you can as well go online and download it.”