Why I Am Sending Nigerians To Canadian Universities

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Mobo Oresegun is a graduate of International Development Studies at York University, in Canada. Brimming with the resolve to make a difference in the lives of the younger generation, the CEO/Managing Director of Comfort Zone Educational spoke to TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA about her pet project – Luz Neema Foundation, which is offering scholarships to five Nigerians to study in Canada.
What is Luz Neema Foundation about?
  The literal meaning of Luz is a Bible word from Genesis 28:19 and it is translated to mean God’s abode. Neema is a word in Swahili language that means mercy. Fused together, it means God’s place with abundant mercy. For anybody to be able to excel and impact in other people’s lives, it is the mercy of God. To think of paying the tuition of a child in the western world comes from God. This is the basic idea of the foundation and it is tied to the programme I went for, which is International Development studies.

  Canada offered me great opportunities in life and I should in turn give back to my local community, through the
foundation. This is the maiden edition. We intend to do a publication calling for entries from candidates; where the candidates would be selected via their performance in the WAEC and NECO examinations. We will then narrow it down
to the best 50 who would be given the opportunity to compete for the five slots available.
  Most people are of the opinion that selection would favour those known to me, either from my own local community, or friends and family. The process of selection however transcends beyond any personal relationship. It is of little importance if one bears the same surname with me, all shortlisted students will have the opportunity to prove their worthiness in an open forum both in simple written and oral test. This process thus ensures that the best students are selected.
What are the details of the scholarship?
  It comes to $40,000 over a period of four years or six million Naira per student, to cover tuition alone. Living expenses is difficult to estimate as this is dependent on an individual. So, you cannot really put a figure to the cost of the overall study, but it is a joy to see some of these young people achieve their
dreams and I believe by the time they are through with their studies, they would be able to return home and affect the lives of other people.
  Usually, it takes six months from the period of commencement to the time where the study permit is issued. Given the fact that documents need to be verified. We are not limited to a particular university in Canada, if a student has preference for any school, we process the admission and handle all embassy procedures, including test and medical.
What is the attraction in Canadian institutions?
  Initially, Canada wasn’t very popular with Nigerians probably due to the sobriety of the Canadian economy in comparison to Europe and the United States. However, due to the publicity created through the educational fairs that the Canadian Deputy High Commission has been embarking on, it has helped to create awareness about Canadian universities to Nigerians.

  Furthermore, Canada is a multicultural society. In other words, every individual comes into the society with a unique culture and set of values. Thereby creating a welcoming environ to all and sundry. It is a beautiful society indeed to be, where all forms of discriminated is frowned against. For Nigerian students studying at these universities, they are guaranteed the best of tertiary education.
  The most prominent province or state as we call it here in Canada is Ontario and within Ontario alone, especially the Toronto area, we have well over hundreds of thousands of students, without reference to other provinces. There are some provinces where there is low population of blacks. However, if you do see some, there is 90 percent chance that such a person is Nigerian.
Why didn’t you consider sponsoring the indigent to school in Nigeria?
  To a large extent, that is a logical way of reasoning. However, the issues bothering Nigerian universities transcends beyond money. There are policies guiding the Nigerian universities of which the academic staff are still fighting to uphold which is a major change to be addressed. If on the other hand we are meant to donate some money to Nigerian universities, there is also the criterion of what value is appropriate to which school. This process needs to be thought through if we were to engage in it.
  Subsequently, the only way we can make a success out of the programme is for the students to come back home on completion their studies. By that, we would have plugged the brain drain syndrome. Their return ensures a trickle down effect of acquired knowledge into our society. It is just like the process of refining gold. The original form is usually very rough and ugly, the only time you add value is when it is refined and doesn’t remain where it was refined. Same with the students, if they stay back in Canada they are just one in a million and a part of those competing for job opportunities: but their impact would be
felt more with their return.
What are the problems with our educational system?
  There are quite a number of things I think are wrong with Nigeria’s educational system and it goes beyond just scratching the surface. The technique is important. The Canadian schools run a system whereby students can be admitted into school three times a year if they so choose. The most popular period is the Fall, which is the September period. There is another for Winter, which is in January and another for Summer, which is in May. Not every institution run all three. Some run two admission schedules in a year. That is a working system. If it runs like that in Nigeria, we wouldn’t have the backlog of students wanting to get admitted every year. Therefore, the admission process is not rigid but fluid.
  Secondly, technology around the world has become mind-blowing. You can actually engage in courses online from the comfort of your room; you don’t have to be physically in class to complete a lecture.
There are complaints about government’s low funding of tertiary institutions, is this also a problem?
  Government must be financially committed to education. In Canada, if you need to go to school, you can secure a loan from government only as a citizen or permanent resident of the country. Parents or relatives only guarantee your personhood but the student is held responsible to pay back such loans. It is the
government that issues the loan not the banks and when you pay back, you pay back into the coffers of government. But in Nigeria, the wherewithal at tuition payment is dependant on parents. Where one cannot afford it, all hopes at excelling career-wise becomes doomed. These are some of the things I
recognize as the issues and it goes without saying our common problems of electricity, infrastructure, corruption and creating a conducive learning environment.
What can be done to encourage learning?
  You can make learning exciting in which all students with different learning skills and abilities have various opportunities at excelling academically. In a situation where students are made to carrying mountain of textbooks; one becomes too tied at the end of the day, to take a look at the prints. Visuals aid help commit a topic to memory. As a matter of fact, students are made to read for a discussion session in order to earn marks, which count towards a student’s total marks.
  The basic mode of testing should not only be dependant on an exam at the end of the semester where one is made to write a long sheet of answers. Answering questions intelligibly in class from previously assigned texts should earn you marks, as well as being able to contribute sensibly in class. This method encourages attendance and participation. These are ways of making learning fun, which can be adopted to deepen our educational system.
Nigerians are reputed to be good students abroad, what is the reason for this?
  For you to be able to study in a new environment, it takes the whole of your wellbeing. Nigerian students are always well behaved abroad. They are hardly caught involved in anti-social activities, they excel better in their studies because they have their focus on the objective. Socializing becomes secondary. While a Nigerian student is intent on how to complete his education right on time and within budget. The Canadian economy empowers their citizens with bank credit. You can actually spend beyond your means and acquire material things
for yourself, but sometimes, because of the age, the values get mixed up, which is most times at the detriment of their education.
  While a westerner can always earn a living with or without a standard education, but because we have been taught of the importance of education, Nigerian students tend to take their studies seriously.
Why are you doing this?
  The motivation for me is experiencing two worlds and making a choice of the two. It is of culture transference, where the most important of either culture is continually adopted. It is of presenting a new image of Nigeria and Nigerians to the world. It is of empowering the next generation. It is of ensuring that the hopes and aspiration of one more youth is kept alive. It is about our culture and tradition. All of these exceed the superficial.
  Most developed societies have their culture and belief in technology. We might not have the technology but we have the values. They have the technology, but have lost the values. For me, I want an infusion of technology with lots of values.

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