The structural shift from 7-5-4 to the 6-3-3-4 system of education in 1983 was expected to address a lot of perceived deficiencies and respond to the educational yearnings of Nigerians for technological and self reliant skills. But, unfortunately, the system has been endangered by funding challenges, incessant strike actions, limited admission spaces offered by JAMB, among others, making millions of Nigerians to seek knowledge outside the shores of the country.
The craze for foreign education by millions of Nigerian youths came to the fore at the recently held British Schools Expo organised by The International Education Consultancy (TIEC) Group. Now in its third edition, the expo enables Nigerians meet heads and representatives of UK boarding schools, colleges and universities and talk to UK school specialists.
The United Kingdom is the destination of choice for Nigerian students and it is on record that Nigerian money fuels the UK education sector to the tune of over N246 billion annually. In a research published by the British Council in 2008, 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.
Given the poor quality of education, especially university education, incessant strike actions, poor teaching facilities and unconducive learning environment as some of the problems bedevilling our education system, students, parents and teachers present at the expo agree though, that the courses are more intense and shorter, making it cheaper to afford.
Giving the better teaching method as her reason for wanting to study in the UK, Obioma Ochuba said: "I2 want to further my education in the UK because their schools are well funded, they have better facilities and their teaching method is superior to what we have in Nigeria. Schools in Nigeria can be at par with UK schools if only they are well funded and adequately equipped."
Omotola Layeni isn't satisfied with the standard of education in Nigeria and prefers to study in the UK for better understanding of her course of study so as to increase her chances of becoming successful in life.
For Odunayo Okebunmi, schooling in the UK would open a new vista for her as she would be more informed about other climes and culture.
"Though there are some good schools in Nigeria, the UK system is well structured with conducive learning environment and this will enable me gain better knowledge of the course and also get to know about other climes and cultures."
Even teachers and parents are not left out in the quest for foreign education for their wards as some teachers were seen enquiring on behalf of their students.
A teacher with Mandate Private College, Mr. Onafuwa Adetola, said exposing the students to such education fairs would help give them brighter future.
"As an international school, our job isn't done until we expose them to such expos and help get some of them there. Nigerian schools are not what they used to be and I'm urging our government to look inwardly to right all these wrongs and increase education funding."
In agreement is Harold Oseni, also a teacher who opined that human capital development of any nation is very important for that country to progress.
"Asian countries are where they are today because they invest in education. Also, research institutes are doing the same thing universities are doing. For us to make progress as a country, government, research institutes and companies ought to work together as obtainable in developed countries."
For Mrs. Patience Dappa, her major reason for wanting to send her wards to the UK is the opportunity to mix with other people and learn their ways of life.
Opposed to sending children to foreign countries to further their education is Mrs. Michelle Ukoh, an educationist, who said such has led to the erosion of our core values.
"Sending our children out too early is the worst thing we can do to them. This is because when they leave home too early, they take on the identity of the countries they go to and this can be very dangerous.
"We are suffering from massive brain drain and there is need to turn that around by making our education system competitive. From an education standpoint, there is the pressing need to revise the curriculum because we are losing our core values that make us Nigerians."