15 Reasons Nigerian Students Fail the TOEFL iBT

Test_center

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) which is offered as an internet-based test (iBT) in Nigeria can be very tricky and difficult to pass for many Nigerian students. A large number of Nigerian students have come to see the TOEFL (iBT) as a nightmare; however, research, surveys, and general review of various scenarios over the years have shown that Nigerian students fail the TOEFL (iBT) because some important factors are not given thorough consideration and attention. Nigerian students’ failure in the TOEFL can be attributed to quite a number of factors which include:

1. Poor Planning/Preparation: Many Nigerian students usually fail to prepare for the TOEFL test properly. They always like the fire brigade approach, trying to patch things up in the last minute. If you ask them why, they will be quick to defend themselves, telling you that the TOEFL test is no big deal but just an English language examination. It is very common to hear reckless responses like this because most of them are ignorant of the TOEFL test content and structure. They usually think that the English language knowledge they have acquired over the years in the normal classroom teachings of their various schools is enough to help them succeed in the TOEFL test. Little wonder that students in this category fumble at the test and they end up failing the exam.

2. Faulty/Weak Background in Classroom English Language Learning/Studies: Many Nigerian students do not have strong and solid foundation in the rudiments of English language because English language is not our native language (mother tongue) in Nigeria. Therefore, there is a high possibility that, such a weak background will reflect on the student’s performance at the TOEFL test. Students who lack the fundamentals of English Language usually have limited ability to understand, analyze and connect information.

3. Incoherent English Language Communication Skills: A large number of Nigerian students usually experience difficulties in expressing themselves in English; they are, most times, unable to convey their personal ideas clearly and coherently in verbal/spoken English. When they speak, they do so with great difficulty and there are usually lots of noticeable distortions in their statements and sentences. They also have difficulty in understanding lectures and conversations in English that involve abstract or complex ideas and recognizing the relationship between those ideas.

4. Poor Writing Skills and Punctuation Problems: These problems occur/appear in the writing section of the TOEFL (iBT). A large number of test takers in Nigeria cannot compose impressive and informative essays. They also have problems with common punctuation marks; not knowing how and when to apply paragraphs, commas, quotation marks, question marks, capital letters and full-stops. Tests Raters (people who review your tests and award marks) are easily discouraged and turned off when they come across poorly punctuated essays. It is similar to driving a rickety car on a bumpy road; it is usually an unpleasant experience.

5. Inability to Familiarize with the QWERTY Keyboard: The QWERTY keyboard is an important hardware device used for the TOEFL test; so, a student who is not familiar with it might have difficulties in typing on the writing section. Many Nigerian students lack proper knowledge of the QWERTY keyboard (its layout and structure), so they will waste much of their time trying to find alphabets on the keyboard. As most test takers know, the TOEFL test clock/timer cannot be paused, it will continue to tick away and this will eventually have a negative effect on the student’s composure and response delivery in the writing section.

6. Technical Issues at the Test Centers: There have been reported cases of poor facility and equipment management/maintenance by Test Center Owners/Administrators (TCAs) in Nigeria. We have heard and seen cases of malfunctioning computer systems, faulty earphones and microphones, abrupt power outage, internet server breakdown due to unreliable internet service providers or inclement weather among other issues. Problems like these more often than not, dampen the morale, self-confidence and enthusiasm of the test takers. Sometimes, as a result of these technical issues, the scheduled TOEFL test may even be cancelled/terminated and rescheduled for a future testing date.

7. Unnecessary Apprehension: Some Nigerian students, by nature of their upbringing and the environment in which they find themselves, are not inclined to computer system hardware and the technology behind its operation; so, they become confused on the TOEFL exam day regarding the use of the computer system. Such students usually find it difficult using the mouse to navigate the test screen. Though this may appear funny, but some Nigerian students have a phobia for technology, especially the computer system because working on the computer system makes them uncomfortable. This kind of feeling plunges them into a state of anxiety.

8. Bad Management of Test/Examination Time: Many Nigerian students do not give the right priority to time management in all their activities and engagements. This bad time management syndrome goes on to affect their use of time during the TOEFL test. The TOEFL test is time bounded, so test takers who are not conscious of this may not be able to complete the test within the allotted time. Unnecessary tardiness can be a great hindrance to scoring high in the test.

9. Carelessness and Nonchalant Attitude of Students towards the Test: Most test takers in Nigeria do not plan their TOEFL examination day seriously. Experience has shown that fixing a major appointment for this day can be counter-productive. Lateness to the center, more often than not, jeopardizes test taker chances of scoring high in the test. If you are required to take a long trip to the test center, please create enough time to arrive early at the test center. Most students who get to their test centers after the reporting time/check-in time usually have difficulties settling down for their exams. Some even go to the TOEFL test centers without the appropriate/acceptable identification documents.

10. Examination Phobia Caused by Sad Tales and Ugly Experiences of Previous Test Takers: Many Nigerian test takers have been fed overtime with scary stories by some lazy students/test takers. They are told of how tough and tasking the TOEFL test can be, and these unpleasant stories are registered in the minds and brains of the prospective test takers. The implication of this is that students become disoriented towards the examination and this will negatively affect their performance on the test day.

11. Refusal to attend a Coaching/Training Class: It is never enough for students to prepare for the TOEFL exam alone. Experience over the years has shown that students who attend coaching/training classes perform better than their counterparts who studied on their own. Experience, they say, is the best teacher; so, why not create time to get tutelage from tutors who can help you develop intellectually and succeed on the test. Though we must give credit to some self-trained students who went through serious personal study drills to develop themselves and ended up scoring high in the TOEFL test.

12. Inability of Students to deal thoroughly with past Exam/Test failure Experiences: Students who failed at one standardized test at some points in their lives are likely to think low of themselves when they are required to write another standardized test. Many students have failed to learn from their past failures and this continues to affect their performance in future test/exam.

13. Ignorance: Some Nigerian students fail their TOEFL tests because they are ignorant. They are oblivious of vital information that abounds all around them because they fail to make exhaustive and extensive research about the test they intend sitting for. This is very appalling going by the number of TOEFL test forums and other relevant discussions that are available 24/7 on the internet. There are also various TOEFL test prep/study materials available for free on the internet. Rather than take advantage of this, they prefer to waste their time on chatting and browsing through social media and websites.

14. Lack of Willingness/Enthusiasm to Succeed in the Test/Exam: For some Nigerian students, the willingness and zeal required to strive for success in their examinations is missing. This could be caused by illness, family issues, poverty, indecision, emotional stress and many more. As much as this could be understandable, the TOEFL test owners/organizers (ETS) do not give students any form of considerations based on these grounds.

15. Over-confidence: Though this might not look like a real problem; however, the truth is that it has caused the failure of several intelligent Nigerian students in their academic pursuit. Some students approach the TOEFL test in an egocentric manner; some test takers feel too important about themselves that they find it difficult to obey simple test center instructions/rules. Some even gloat or boast unreasonably about their English language skills/abilities before the actual test. Over-confidence in students is not encouraged; rather, self-confidence is the key to success. As a professional academic consultant, I recommend that prospective TOEFL test takers and re-takers should consider the above points seriously so they can prepare well for their TOEFL exams/test and achieve high scores. Remember that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Best of LUCK!!! See you at the top soon.

Culled and slightly modified from the blog site: http://www.urch.com/forums/toefl/143226-15-reasons-nigerian-students-fail-toefl-iBT-test-exam.html

TOEFL in NIGERIA

The TOEFL iBT® test is one of the tests administered by Educational Testing Services. For more information about the test, visit http://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/about. In Nigeria, we have few centers at the moment in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Benin City, Ibadan, Effurun-Warri, Enugu, Jos, and Kaduna.

 

What is the appropriate time to test?

 The time to test would be determined by the deadline defined by the institution(s) you intend to send your score report to. You can obtain this information by visiting the institution’s website, contacting them through email or phone conversation, or contacting an appropriate agency such as First New Generation Citadel Ltd. However, it is expedient for you to submit your score reports to the institution as early as possible to enhance a speedy decision-making on your application. One thing you should understand (and of course is the truth) is that early application would provide you with an ample chance of getting accepted; late application thins out your acceptance chances. We call this ‘survival of the intellectual fittest’.

In addition, check the availability of the date and the testing site. Why? Sometimes, some testing sites might not be available within your closest locality, and traveling to a long distance on a test day could cause much stress.

 

FNG’s TOEFL® Track Record?

fngcenter students performance - toefl ibt test

What do you think about this chart? This is one of the reasons many students rely on FNG for their tutorials. So, you need not look further when you need some tutorials on standardized tests like TOEFL®.

 

How does TOEFL iBT® compare with other Secured English Language Tests (SELTs)?

toefl comparisons

 

TOEFL® Fee in Nigeria

 The testing fee is $180; although variation in fee is inevitable and could arise while converting from a given local currency to dollars, excluding administrative charges and or commission. Do not cower when you hear about variation in fees in Nigeria because of obvious fluctuations in the price of the Naira against the dollar.

 

Practice Test

Take enough practice tests on the computer and, if necessary, take tutorial classes to bolster your understanding and increase your scores.

Written by: Chidi Brian Nnadikwe
 

For more info visit us at
First New Generation Study Center
40 Oduduwa Way, off Isaac John Street,
Ikeja GRA, Lagos
Email: info@fngcenter.com or
call: 08069673315, 08062172776

Do You Dread Either SAT, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS OR GRE?

Do you dread exams? Be honest. No, no, no…be honest. Was your last exam akin to falling off a roller-skate? Does the mention of ‘exam’ give you goose bodies? Umh? Does it sound like triggering a third world war in your mind zone? Anyway, if it should be akin to fighting a battle, think about the militarized 7Ps (Piss Poor Planning Promotes Piss Poor Performance) slogan. You really don’t have to worry because ‘failure’ simply means that your previous effort wasn’t good enough to draw to you the success you desire. Therefore, you need to redouble (maybe triple) your efforts.

To really ace your exams, you need adequate preparation to be able to do so. Life is full of tests(exams); and the rate of your performance in life’s set test is directly proportional to the rate of your proper planning or preparation. Do you know that sometimes you might sink into self-delusion, thinking you are fit but, on the contrary (based on later discovery), you would realize that you still have much to do? So, that lacuna has to be filled in order for you to hit a good score.

Your study could be in either of these three modes: self-study, group study, or tutor-led study. However, there is no absolute crime in choosing a hybrid. The most important thing is the attainment of one goal: success. Whichever one you chose must point you to your goal.

Ironically, examining bodies are into business (real business, despite being non-profit-making); so, they do not care whether you pass or not. Should you pass, you progress; otherwise, you pay another dollar worth(or whatever currency charged) into their account.

Exams, even the standardized ones like SAT®, GMAT®, TOEFL® test, GRE® revised General Test, IELTS, and so on, should not scare the fart out of you because proper planning would help dispel every fear. Therefore, seek proper understanding of the strategies or techniques required for passing them and you will be amazed at the outcome.

What if I tell you that there are strategies you need to adopt? Do you know that you were probably flummoxed by your inability to apply the right techniques? Or how would explain that what you hitherto thought was very challenging has a simple, technically-woven technique knotted in simple steps? Have you had such an experience and felt like slapping yourself? Hahahahahaha! I caught you right there.

Come over to First New Generation Citadel and we would do you good by turning your ‘fallen self’ into a ‘standing self’. It just can’t be a terrible fall off the wall like the well-rhymed ‘Humpty-Dumpty’s’.

Inside FNG: See Pictures

FIRST NEW GENERATION, (FNG) is a unique certified testing center of learning. We are an testing center; the best in Nigeria. Our Vision is to establish, manage and administer a model private study center of excellence. Our Mission is to provide “one stop services” which will enhance education empowerment for competition in the global market. Our Philosophy is to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Here are some latest pics from Inside FNG.

GMAT® students
GMAT® students
FNG Discussion room
FNG Discussion room
Student taking a diagnostic test
Student taking a diagnostic test
SAT® Class
SAT® Class
Mrs.Ukoh & Parents at a breakfast seminar
Mrs.Ukoh & Parents at a breakfast seminar
Mr.Lawrence(tutor) & a student
Mr.Lawrence(tutor) & a student
Group of SAT® students
Group of SAT® students
GRE® revised General Test students in a discussion class
GRE® revised General Test students in a discussion class

 

20 TOEFL Tips for Success

20 toefl tips for exam success

Writing TOEFL is usually the first steps in securing admissions in overseas or International Universities. A high score will do wonders to prove you are proficient in the use of English language and will fast track your admission process. Here are 20 TOEFL Tips to help you score high and get the desired university of your choice.

 

20 TOEFL Tips

  1. Familiarize yourself with the TOEFL format
    Most countries now offer the Internet based TOEFL (iBT). A few offer only the paper-based test (PBT). Make sure you find out which test you will be taking before you start studying for the TOEFL. You cannot choose to take the paper based test if your country offers the iBT. One reason people experience exam stress is because they don’t know what to expect before a test. Prevent stress on exam day by studying the format of the test in detail. ETS has very clear standards about the format of their test. This is why it is called a “standardized” test.
  2. Research TOEFL score requirements
    The TOEFL is required for any non-native English student who wants to go to a post-secondary school in the United States. Most people take the TOEFL in order to apply to a specific school or program. Before you begin studying, find out what the requirements are for the schools you are interested in going to. Remember that the scores for the paper based test are different than the scores for the iBT. Some schools will look at your scores from different sections. Each iBT section is scored out of 30. Many universities expect you to achieve higher writing skills than speaking skills. TOEFL scores are only valid for two years.
  3. Learn academic English
    TOEFL is used for a different purpose than other ESL tests. The TOEFL measures your ability to succeed in an American university or college. Other English-speaking countries also require TOEFL scores as a prerequisite for admission. You don’t have to know about the business world as you do in the TOEIC test. Instead, you should concentrate on studying language that you would hear and see on campus and in the classroom. In other words, you should read textbooks, encyclopaedias, journals and research articles rather than advertisements and resumes. You won’t need to know any background information about certain subjects, but it will help you to become familiar with the presentation and language used in academic material. You should also watch modern television and movies. If you have a friend who goes to an English university, go to class with him as often as you can. Borrow his books and hang out with his friends.
  4. Use practice tests
    The best way to prepare for the TOEFL is to practise doing the tests. If you are taking a TOEFL class, your teacher will provide you with plenty of material. If you are studying for the TOEFL on your own, you will have to purchase a few key resources. Find a textbook that has exercises, vocabulary, practice tests, CDs, and explanatory answers. You might not want to work through a book from front to back. Work on the sections that you find most challenging. Don’t just rely on one book. You might have a book that is much easier than the official TOEFL. Look for free samples on the Internet to supplement your textbook. Make sure the question types are up to date.
  5. Find a mentor
    A reliable native English teacher who knows a lot about the TOEFL is one of the best resources a student can have. You will have many questions that your textbook can’t answer for you. Frustrated students often give up. It is important that you have someone who will answer your questions and encourage you when you feel down. If you cannot afford a teacher or a tutor, find a student who has studied for the test before. Sometimes other students can give you excellent hints and help you with grammar questions. You might be able to help other students with their questions too. Teaching another person is a great way to learn. If you use Twitter, search for “TOEFL”. You will find teachers and students to follow and network with. Join the TOEFL Group on MyEC. Provide support to others and share tips on finding free practice tests.
  6. Build up your stamina
    The TOEFL test takes a long time to write. If you are taking the paper based test it will take you about 2.5 hours. The iBT is much longer. You can expect to be at the computer for 4 hours. Many students have an attention span of about two hours. This is the maximum length of most classes. After this amount of time performance starts to weaken. If you keep your study sessions to one or two hours, your brain will not be prepared to work for four. Start off with short study sessions, and work up to longer ones. It is absolutely necessary that you get a good night’s sleep before this test. You cannot afford to be tired.
  7. Arrive prepared
    If you arrive at the test centre with all of the things you need, you will feel calm and ready. When you are nervous, your memory does not work as well. Make sure you know exactly how to get to the test centre and where you can park. Bring the correct amount of money for parking. If you are writing the paper based test, you should have a number of pencils, a pencil sharpener and a few erasers that don’t smudge. It is also important that your identification looks valid. If you have had problems with your ID before, make sure to bring a backup photo. Don’t forget any paper work that ETS sends you to prove that you have registered.
  8. Pace yourself
    Plan to arrive at the test centre at least 30 minutes ahead of time. Wear a watch. This is especially important if you are taking the paper based test. Some exam rooms do not have clocks. The iBT has a clock on the screen, however, you should still wear a watch to make sure that you arrive on time! During the exam, watch your time very closely. Many students do poorly on the TOEFL because they spend too much time on difficult questions. There is no break between the Reading and Listening section. You will get a ten minute break after the first half before the Speaking section. You will only have a short time to write the essay. Spend some time planning and checking your writing.
  9. Improve your typing skills
    You will have to fill out your answers on the computer and type your essay. If you rely on a few fingers to type, consider improving your typing skills before taking the TOEFL. Make sure that you are confident typing on a QWERTY keyboard. If you aren’t, search for typing practice drills online. Even if your typing skills are strong, try doing practice tests on other computers. Some students get so used to their own computer that they get nervous when they have to type on a new keyboard or use a different mouse on test day.
  10. Become an expert note taker
    You will be able to take notes in each section as you take the TOEFL iBT. Note taking is allowed because it is an important skill you need for taking university or college courses. As you study, practise taking notes on the main idea of what you read and hear as well as on the main details. Do this throughout your day as you listen to news reports, read websites, and watch TV. Create your own shorthand for frequently used words and phrases.
  11. Answer every question
    Never leave a question blank. Eliminate all of the answers you know are wrong and then make an educated guess. You have a 25% chance of getting the correct answer. When you finish a section or question, try to put it out of your mind. Whether you are reading, listening, or answering a question, put all of your concentration on the task at hand.
  12. Secrets for the Reading section
    The iBT does not test grammar separately as previous TOEFL tests did. You will still need to prove that you have a strong grasp of grammar in the speaking and writing sections. It is helpful to familiarize yourself with key academic vocabulary. There are helpful textbooks for this purpose. Keep in mind that you don’t need to know every word in a reading passage to answer the questions. Practise reading without a dictionary close by. When it comes to the questions, concentrate on the areas that the questions pertain to. Skim through the passage, read the questions, then read for more detail. The questions usually come in the order they appear in the passage. Anticipate the type of questions you will be asked in this section. Many of the readings have a main idea question. You will be asked at least two vocabulary questions from each reading. You will also be asked some detailed questions and some inference questions. You will not have time to reread a whole passage. Share your own secrets for the TOEFL Reading section here.
  13. Secrets for the Listening section
    When you are practising for the listening sections, don’t play the tape or CD more than once. On the real test you will only hear everything once. You have to train your ears to listen fully the first time. During the real exam, don’t look back at a listening question after you have decided on an answer. You cannot change it. The clock will not start running until you start the answers. Learn to listen for main ideas, presentation (compare/contrast etc.), and key details. Share your own secrets for TOEFL listening section here.
  14. Secrets for the Speaking section
    It is okay to hesitate for a moment or two when it is time to respond. However, it is best to fill as much of the time as possible with your response. If you have a few extra seconds you can sum things up in a short conclusion. You will lose marks for poor pronunciation, so don’t try to use big words that you can’t say properly. You will also lose marks for improper use of vocabulary and idioms. Make sure you know how to use an expression properly before you try to use it on the exam. Share your own secrets for the TOEFL Speaking section here.
  15. Secrets for the Writing section
    Don’t forget that you will have to make connections in the first part of the Writing section. Memorize phrases from practice tests that show you how to do this. The most important thing is to keep your writing simple and clear. You will not have access to a spell check function. Don’t use vocabulary and punctuation that you are unsure of. Spend some time planning your essay before you write it. Your outline will save you time in the long run. When you practise for the essay, find a format that you are comfortable with. Use this format every time. For example, your thesis might always be in the third sentence of your introduction. You might always end your conclusion with a question. Make sure to use lots of examples to support your essay. Transitional words and phrases will make your writing easier to read. Memorize a list of these and practise typing them. Always leave time to review what you have written. Read your essay silently in your head as you check it. Share your own secrets for the TOEFL Writing section here.
  16. Strengthen all 4 skills
    Some people make the mistake of taking the test too soon. Perhaps your reading, listening, and writing skills are ready, but your speaking skills still need work. If you do very poorly on one section of the test, you will have to retake the entire test. You can’t redo one section. Make sure that you are ready to take the whole test when you register.
  17. Dress in comfortable clothing
    Dress in comfortable layers on test day. You never know whether or not the test room will be cold or warm. Wear your favourite shirt. When you feel comfortable you perform better! Don’t wear tight clothing. You have to sit in one place for a long time. Though you want to be comfortable, do take time to look your best on test day. In other words, dress for success.
  18. Make sure to eat before the test
    Four hours is a long time to go without a snack. You will not be allowed to bring any food or drinks into the test room with you. Eat a sensible meal before you take the test. Avoid too much caffeine as it will give you the shakes. Don’t consume large amounts of sugar right before the test. You will get tired very quickly. Make sure that you have had plenty of water (but not too much as you will not want to waste time in the washroom).
  19. Refer to the official TOEFL website
    The official TOEFL website (www.toefl.com) has a number of helpful things that you can download for free. They will supply you with a list of writing topics for the essay. You can also find important information about test centres and test updates. Many of your questions can be answered here. You will also get hints about which resources are worth buying.
  20. Reward yourself
    After you take the exam, reward yourself for all of the time and effort you put into learning a second language! Treat yourself to a gift or a night out. No matter how well you did on the exam, you deserve a reward. Write down what your reward will be before you take the exam. It is always helpful to have something to look forward to.

Why Nigerian students excel abroad – Engr Oni

By Dayo Adesulu (Vanguard)

Former Chairman of Odu’a Investment Group, Engr. David Oni  who is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Dave Abion Consulting, in this interview with journalists, sheds light on some topical educational issues including why many Nigerian students excel abroad.

What inspired you into the education consultancy business?
I was educated in the UK where I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Greenwich, London with a scholarship from British Petroleum Co. Ltd. When I got there and saw the method of teaching and learning and the facilities that were available in terms of books, library materials, laboratories, workshops, etcetera, it dawned on me that the UK is the perfect study destination. I worked for many years in British Petroleum and other companies when I came back. On my retirement, I decided to set up my own consultancy so that many Nigerians can enjoy what I enjoyed when I studied in the UK.

There have been numerous instances whereby Nigerians who had their secondary education or first degree programme here, emerge the best students once they go abroad for studies. What do we attribute such development to?

What I would say is that most Nigerian students excel when they travel abroad more than they would have excelled here. This situation can be explained through the statement of an American management consultant. “Success is equal to opportunity plus capability.” Many Nigerians have the capability but they do not have the opportunity when they are here in Nigeria. So when you add their capability to the opportunities that open to them when they are in the UK, I am not surprised that they excel. World-class libraries, good lecturers, good facilities and excellent environment. I won’t compare them to UK students but most of them do excel beyond the expectation of many people.

How do we explain the current craze for overseas education in which Nigerian students now move out in droves even to countries like Togo and Benin Republic both of which are not better than Nigerian in terms of educational infrastructure?

We are selective in terms of the countries we send Nigerian students to and specialize mostly on UK institutions. Nigerians tend to love everything foreign. Whenever some students talk to me, I always ask them whether they want to go abroad for the hope of heaven or for the fear of hell; hope of heaven because there are better libraries and better laboratories, etcetera or the fear of hell because there is no electricity here and you are tired of armed robbers and bad roads. I always appreciate a situation where students want to go abroad for the hope of heaven.

Engr. Oni

Engr. Oni

Once you get your qualifications from a top British University, you are from a world class university and you get a good job anywhere. If you have an MSc or Phd from say Glasgow University, you are simply irresistible in terms of employment; there is nowhere in the world you cannot get a job. Some  Nigerian universities are very good and well known abroad, others are not. So I think the craze for foreign education arises from the fact that people know that if you struggle and make a good grade from a British University, you are more or less made for life!

A lot of Nigerians go to Ghana for their education. The qualification of Ghanaian universities is very good, their educational system is stable and they hardly go on strike unlike here in Nigeria where you can go in for a four-year programme and may not finish in seven years.

Education is not only about reading, writing and arithmetic, you also want to make friends. Later on in life when you graduate, you discover that you have developed life-time opportunities through your network of friends. Many Nigerians may not be aware of the value of such networks because they believe that they are only there to read their books and nothing more. We always counsel them before they leave that they are not going to read only physics and chemistry, they are also going to read the chemistry of life and make friends that will be useful to them for the rest of their lives.

What is the possibility of Nigerian universities fulfilling those needs that make our students go to UK universities?

There is nothing impossible. I met Prof. Peter Okebukola at Lancaster University in 2005 and that was the same question he asked me. “Engr. Oni, you are taking Nigerian students to Britain to study, why are you not bringing British students to Nigeria for studies?” This is a possibility. The world has become a global village, not only in the field of education but in the field of technology, culture and almost every sphere of life. People can come here and study our culture, language, etcetera and we should also be able to travel out and study. At the moment, the trend is one way: people want to travel to China, US, Germany and UK.

It’s one-way and may remain so until we are able to improve our infrastructure, security, health services, power and safety consciousness. If these facilities improve, there is no way the flow which is uni-directional at the moment cannot become bi-directional, so that people come here and we go there. That’s the way it is supposed to be in a globalised world. People are not coming to Nigeria for reasons we all know. Nobody will hear of Boko Haram and decide to risk his life coming here.

Educational consultancy for foreign students seems to have become an all-comers’ affair. Are there factors that make Dave Abion consulting to stand out from the crowd?

In every sphere of human endeavour, there are always cowboys: cowboy doctors, lawyers, bankers and teachers. We stand out for a number of reasons. First, our organisation is recognised by the British High Commission and the British Council. We are also affiliated to the ICEF, an international body that recognises quality and brings quality education consultants in contact with quality education providers. I attended the ICEF seminar for a week in Dubai last January. People know us in the industry and we also know our students and their parents very well. We operate nationwide and are fully registered with the authorities. We have offices in Ikeja, Victoria Island, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

How do you keep tab on your students after their graduation to know how they are faring?

We encourage the students to keep in touch with us through emails, letters, telephone, text messages etcetera. When you are still studying, we ensure that there is regular communication between us and we keep that up after your graduation. That’s how we are able to learn that four or five of our students came out with First Class degrees in their undergraduate studies last year. When they finish, many of them prefer to stay abroad for a while at least to get quality job experience.

Assuming you studied engineering, by the time you come back, you must have got a job over there with a quality engineering firm here in Nigeria. We are interested in all our students. Apart from piloting them towards a quality education that will make them stand out anywhere, we are interested in how they progress in their careers overseas and on their return to Nigeria.

What do you consider as the basic problem of Nigeria’s educational system?

The problems are numerous. But essentially it is the problem of leadership of the country. There is no articulated philosophy of education. It might have been stated in the constitution but that’s not enough. I know that the United Nations Organisation stipulates that any country that is serious about education must devote at least 26 per cent of their annual budget to education. I am sure that what Nigeria devoted to education this year is not more that 8 per cent! In the last 10 years, the story has not been different.

One of the key problems therefore is under-funding. There is a lot of demand when about two million people will take the University Matriculation Examination (UME) each year and only about 250,000 will be absorbed by all the universities and polytechnics in the country. Over a million students waste away every year from UME and a fresh set comes up the next year. The existing universities cannot even be properly funded and people are thirsty for education because they know the value and understand that education makes them able to contribute meaningfully and effectively to national development.

If you go to Britain, they try to adjust their educational system to the political and economic realities of their country. Manpower planning is essential. For example, you are looking for a plumber or electrician, if there is good manpower planning, where are the institutions where you train plumbers and electricians here in Nigeria? UK, USA, Canada, Germany and Australia have institutions that train and certify this category of people.

In Nigeria, everybody must go to the university and you have lots of university graduates who are not employable. We are putting unnecessary emphasis on university degrees. A good plumber could earn more than a university professor in the UK. The plumber is trained in the technical college and is happy to be a plumber. Here everybody is running after university degrees. Government has to fundamentally develop a policy on education and be determined to provide the proper level of funding needed to execute the policy. The private sector should also be encouraged to play a key role.

A school of thought believes that the country’s standard of education is falling, while another school believes it is rising. Which of the two do you belong to?

I belong to the one that says the standard is falling. If I am facing somebody in a debate on this issue, first of all, we must agree on what is meant by standard. People debate on a lot of things in Nigeria without agreeing on the fundamentals. Somebody will say that the educational standard is going up and point to the fact that students now easily go online and go on Apple Ipad and things like that.

But I will be arguing that many years ago, if somebody was in form five, he would’ve studied History, Geography, Mathematics and have a very good all-round education. Today, the reverse is the case. There was a time I asked my secretary who holds a Higher National Diploma to send a message to Jos. She sent it overseas and told me that Jos was in England!

What we do in my office requires a fair knowledge of Geography so I brought somebody who was a graduate of Geography from one of our local universities. I gave him a map of England and asked him to show me where Manchester was on the map. He couldn’t. The vocabulary of most of today’s graduates is so shallow and their knowledge of the English language is so poor that they cannot communicate well. I could write better English in form 2.

The kind of things they used to emphasize to us: “write well, think clearly, put it down”, have all gone. Because of the work I do, I have substantial evidence to prove that the standard of education in the country has gone bananas. If Nigeria is serious about moving forward, we must start improving our standard of education from the primary school level right through to secondary, technical/polytechnic to university.

 
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Nigerian breaks Academic Record at John Hopkins University

by SEGUN OLUGBILE    (Punch NG)

Emmanuel Ohuabunwa

A 22-year-old Nigerian has emerged one of the top graduating students of John Hopkins University in the United States. He obtained a Grade Point Average of 3.98 out of a possible 4.0 to earn a degree in Neurosciences, SEGUN  OLUGBILE writes.

A 22-year-old Nigerian, Emmanuel Ohuabunwa, has made history at John Hopkins University, United States of America.  Ohuabunwa from Arochukwu, Abia State, has done the nation proud by becoming the first black man to make a Grade Point Average of 3.98 out of 4.0 to bag a degree in Neurosciences in the university. He was also adjudged as having the highest honours during the graduation that was held on May 24 this year.

For his efforts, he has won a scholarship to Yale University to pursue a degree in medicine. Besides, he has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society, a prestigious honour group that features membership of 17 US Presidents, 37 US Supreme Court Justices, and 136 Nobel Prize winners.

According to Wikipedia, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is an academic honour society. Its mission is to “celebrate and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences” and induct “the most outstanding students of arts and sciences at America’s leading colleges and universities.”

It was founded at The College of William and Mary on December 5, 1776, and thus it is the oldest honour society for the liberal arts and sciences and among the oldest undergraduate societies in the US.

In an online interview with our correspondent, Ohuabunwa, who was born in Okota, Lagos and attended Lilly Fields Primary School, Lagos, said he left Nigeria after his junior secondary school education at Air Force Comprehensive School, Ibadan, Oyo State.

“My parents moved the whole family when I was 13 years old. I was about to begin SS1 at Air Force, Ibadan. When I got to the US, I was enrolled with my age mates, which meant at 13, I was in middle school. I went to Fondren Middle School, which was in the middle of the ghetto. That was one of the darkest years for me because I encountered a lot of peer pressure. Some of the students, ignorant about Africa, bullied me and called me names such as ‘African booty scratcher’ because to them, Africans were dirty and scratched their butts all the time.

“Some asked me if I lived in mud huts and ate faeces for breakfast. I remember one day, when I was walking to the school bus, a boy came from behind and punched me in the face, called me an African and walked away. It took everything in me not to retaliate. I knew that God had put me in the U.S for a purpose and it did not involve fighting or selling drugs or doing the wrong things.

“My experience during that year gave me a thick skin. I learned to stand for what I thought was right even when the opposition seemed insurmountable. I also learned to look at the positive in all situations. Even though these kids were bullying me, I was still gaining an opportunity to school in America and nothing would stop me from making the best of this opportunity.

“The shocker was that the kid that punched me in the face was black. I would have expected the blacks to be nicer to me. Nevertheless, I don’t blame those kids because they were ignorant about Africa. All they knew about us was the stuff they had watched on TV or documentaries, showing primitive African tribes, living in the jungle and making noises like monkeys.

“In regards to the whites, there might have been some minor episodes but again I don’t blame them for it because it is a problem with stereotypes,” he said.

But in spite of this humiliation and racial prejudice against him, the first in a family of three was not discouraged. He faced his studies and was always coming top in his class. After he completed his middle school education, he passed the entrance examination to DeBakey High School for Health Professions. It was at this school that his interest in neurosciences and medicine started.

“By the second year of high school, we were able to interact with doctors, nurses and other administrators in the hospital. The more I learned about medicine, the more it felt like the thing God was calling me to pursue and by being in the US I got a lot of people to support me to do this. Even though in high school, I got to see first-hand what it meant to be a doctor. We studied advanced anatomy and physiology, learned medical terminology, and learned important skills, such as checking blood pressure, pulse rate, and many more.

“I knew I wanted to go to the best school in the US. I had heard that Johns Hopkins Hospital had been ranked the number one hospital in the US for the past 21 years and I wanted to be in that environment.’’

Worried that his parents might not be able to sponsor him to the university, Ohuabunwa purposed to work very hard. He did and when the result of the PSAT® came, he performed so well that he won the National Achievement Scholar.

By virtue of this award, he received certificates of recognition from various organisations including senators from the Congress of both Texas and the US. He also received scholarship from the University of Houston; Rice University, Texas A&M Honors College and many more.

He had also won the Principal’s Award during the annual awards ceremony at DeBakey High School.

“During our graduation ceremony at DeBakey, I also won the Award for the Most Outstanding Senior Young Man and the student volunteer award for my volunteer activities in the State of Texas,” he said.

But his breakthrough came when he won the Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation full scholarship to any university of his choice. He worked hard and gained admission to Johns Hopkins University to study Neurosciences.

But why Neurosciences, Ohuabunwa said, “I studied Neuroscience, because I was fascinated with the brain, its control of our behaviours and how various diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, lead to a decline in its activity. I also minored in Psychology because I wanted to understand disorders in the psyche. What causes bipolar disorders or schizophrenia. I did not just want to label them as crazy but to understand what causes these conditions and how we can treat them,’’ he explained.

But what does he consider to be the missing links in the education sector of Nigeria when compared with that on offer in US, Ohuabunwa said unpredictable academic calendar, corruption, examination malpractice and inadequate funding were some of the problems confronting his home country’s university sector. These, he said, were absent in the US.

“There were a few problems with Nigerian higher education that contributed to our emigration in 2003.  The first was the number of strikes that occurred in schools. It took my uncle seven years to graduate with a degree that should have taken him only four years. A second problem was the corruption. We had heard of people going into universities, because they paid someone to look the other way. I also heard of a few cheating scandals, where people would pay someone to take their exams for them or get a copy of the exam a few days before,” he said.

But is he saying that US university system has no such problems at all? Ohuabunwa said, “Although this sometimes occurs in the U.S, it is less common because of the strict security. I remember when taking the Medical College Admissions Test,  test required before one can matriculate into medical school, each student had to get his fingerprints taken every time we entered and left the hall. The whole place was packed with cameras and security staff that monitored everything we were doing. The exam was computerised to make sure that no one saw the test before the actual date.”

Another difference, he said, is that America rewards hard-work while the system also emphasises on a balance between academic life and extracurricular activities.

On how he won the scholarship to Yale, Ohuabunwa said his 3.98 GPA in Neurosciences, and many awards he had won and God’s grace, contributed to his winning the scholarship.

“As at the time of my application for medical school, I had a 3.98 GPA of a 4.0. This made me  the only black student inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa. I was also awarded the Becker Family Scholarship for being the most outstanding student in the Neuroscience major at Johns Hopkins University. Furthermore, by God’s grace, I took the MCAT and scored in the top five percentile.

“That, combined with my hours of volunteer service in different hospitals across the US allowed me to gain acceptance into every medical school I applied to, including Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Cornell. As the time came to make a decision, I had narrowed it down to Harvard and Yale. Both schools, I enjoyed visiting. Nevertheless, while my parents prayed, they asked God to give us a sign of what school to attend. A few days later, I received a letter from Yale Medical School, offering me a full ride scholarship for all four years. That was the sign from God,” he said.

But would he come back to Nigeria after the completion of his programme, he said yes.

“I am absolutely interested in the health care policy decisions in Nigeria. Because there are many changes that need to occur, I will not rule out the possibility of coming back after my studies, in order to join hands with the leaders to make these changes possible.’’

He added that his ambition is to become a medical doctor specialising in brain surgery.

“Two weeks ago, my grandmother passed away after a long battle with strokes. Even during emergencies, it was difficult for her to get to the hospital, let alone get treatment. This is a common theme not only in the health care system of Nigeria, but in different countries in the world, where the poor get neglected.

“Second, Nigerian hospitals lack the infrastructure required to compete with major hospitals around the world. It would be an honour to one day contribute to this transformation that is necessary for improvements in Nigeria’s health care sector,” he said.

He, however, advised Nigerian youths who have the wherewithal, to go abroad to study. Ohuabunwa also called on  wealthy Nigerians to invest more in the education of the poor rather than in acquisition of material things.

Ohuabunwa, however, said that his parents, who he described as his greatest role models,  contributed a lot  to his academic feat through Godly training, counsel and guidance. He also did not forget the impact  that his short stay at Air Force school had on him.

“I was definitely not the brightest at Air Force. At that time, I felt like I spent more time running away from seniors than focusing on my studies. Nevertheless, I learned three things at Air Force that have served me well in the US. I learned discipline, adaptability and resilience. These attributes helped me a lot in US,” he said.

 
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FNG CENTER offers intensive coaching for SAT®, TOEFL® test, GRE® revised General Test GMAT® students and also testing and certification at our ETS Prometric Approved Center in Ikeja GRA. We also fast track University Admissions in the United States of America and other countries. For information, please send us an email, info@fngcenter.com or call: 08069673315, 08062172776,  +1-202-236-4035 (International/USA)

Two Nigerian scientists bag UNESCO L’Oreal 2013 Award

The two women were recognized for their works on the environment.

Two Nigerian scientists have bagged the UNESCO L’Oreal “Women in Science Partnership” award for their contributions to the advancement of scientific knowledge in the country.

The awardees were recognized in the Laureates and Fellows categories in Paris.

Francisca Okeke, the first female Head of Department, University of Nigeria Nsukka bagged the 2013 Laureate award for her significant contributions to the study climate change. She was the only recipient in that category from Africa and the Arab nations and the third Nigerian Laureate since the UNESCO-L’Oreal partnership was established in 1998.

The second Nigerian recipient, Eucharia Nwaichi, an environmental biochemist from the University of Port Harcourt joined 15 other young scientists in the International Fellows category. She was recognized for her research on “Scientific Solution to Environmental Pollution.”

Four others also got awards in the Laureate category with each representing Europe, Latin America, North America and the Asia Pacific regions.

The international jury which selected the 2013 awardees was led by Nobel Prize winner, Ahmed Zewail.

Ms. Okeke told the Western Europe Correspondent of NAN that she would continue to encourage women to participate in the development of science and technology in the country. She noted that cultural challenges were impeding on women’s participation in global innovations, stressing that “even though it is seen as a male dominated field, people like us inspire others.”

Mariam Katagum, Nigeria’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, said candidates who met the criteria were selected by a jury based on their submitted projects.

“Two important elements are respecting the deadline and also making their submission through the Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO because that gives it authenticity,” she said. “For us as delegates, as soon as we knew we had possible candidates from Nigeria, we ensured that due process was followed. There is no interference as you can see; an international jury determined the outcome.”

According to her, they awardees have become role models for girls. “For us as a country, we need to encourage more girls to go into science. We can only do that by providing the environment, access to quality education and making sure that the facilities that will make them interested in science subjects are in place,” she said.

Credits: (NAN)
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