I wasn’t an undergraduate student in Nigeria. I didn’t get my degree in Nigeria so I guess I missed out on a lot of challenges that undergraduates would face in Nigeria.
But I think I can relate to their challenges because, first of all many of my family members were and are undergraduates in Nigerian universities. Also lots of my friends were and some are still undergraduates in Nigeria. Mind you, unlike Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who allegedly forged a fake NYSC certificate, I decided to undergo the one year compulsory national service and my PPA happened to be one of the federal universities created the same time with University of Calabar and University of Port Harcourt, so I’ll let you guess the university. So I’ve come face to face with undergraduate challenges.
The thing that you need to bear in mind is there are generic challenges faced by undergraduates world over. There are also problems that are unique to the Nigerian or African context. I’ll try to highlight a few, including my own experiences where neccesary. Here is my list of challenges undergraduates face in Nigeria
image from Google
How can JAMB be a problem? you’ve already passed this hurdle that’s why you are an undergraduate right? So why would anyone bring JAMB into this equation, well relax let me tell you why. A large number of Nigerian undergraduates especially the ones admitted into public universities which actually makes the bulk of Nigerian undergraduates do not get to study what they want. While doing my national service in a federal university, I was involved in the registration of new and returning students. I registered quite a large number each day. During the registration, I would see all kinds of courses, from Political science to zoology. These are not useless degrees but at the same time, an average Nigerian would not want to study these either. Medicine, Engineering, Law and the likes are the major favourites. I would ask the student in a polite manner, “I guess you love animals?” and they ‘ll give answers like “not really.” Then I’d probe a bit further by asking “Then why did you choose this course?” and they would state unequivocally that they didn’t. JAMB did. So here you are stuck in a course that you no interest in just because you are tired of waiting for JAMB to give you the right course that you desired. Sometimes you are to be blamed but some other times JAMB does the magic. So the first problem an undergraduate might likely face is to stuck in course that they never wanted to study in the first place. The next challenge would naturally follow
2. Lack of Ambition and Priority
image from Pulse
The general motto among Nigerian undergraduates and indeed the youth is money. So what happens when you are studying a course you have no passion for? you really just care about the graduating and getting a job. Passing the exams would be your priority. You really do not study to know but study to pass. You have no ambition in that field of study. You don’t want to become a great economist or the best mathematician in the world or even the great physicist. So if you are bright you can study and pass well, if you are not so bright you struggle yet the challenges is in the fact that you have no ambition in that field. The second point would be priority. There is a difference when you are aiming to become successful in the field you are studying and when you are only concerned about passing or getting a good grade if you are really smart. When your priority revolves around grades and not knowledge acquisition then it all boils down to study just enough to succeed in passing the exam. This will inevitably lead you to become a shadow of what you could be. The university environment also encourages this. So also parents and the larger society. There is this saying in Pidgin English “na who pass na e sabi book” in other words only those who make the grades are counted as intelligent.
3. Educational System
Image from Google. An overcrowded lecture hall
This would encompass most of the issues that you would face from lecturers requesting to be sorted, to you been forced to buy hangouts that you don’t need, to lack of adequate materials to meet your study needs. Corrupt lecturers, poor infrastructures and a culture that does not support research and fails to empower undergraduates are all challenges.
I’ve decided not to mention too many challenges but rather I think you should focus on the solutions as an undergraduate. Things you could do to make your chances of success higher in a Nigerian university as an undergraduate are
- Know why : You need to keep your mind on why you are an undergraduate and focus on that purpose. You are there to acquire knowledge in that particular field so that you can be an expert on it, and then get paid for that while you contribute such knowledge and skills to development of the society.
- Avoid Laziness: Yes, study to show thyself approved the Bible says in Timothy. If you are lazy you might never reach your potential in your undergraduate years and certainly you might not even succeed in life, because the way you do one thing is basically the way you do everything. The attitude of laziness when fully developed is hard to break out from. it’s said today that many students go to libraries only when they have exams and some other time to use free WI-FI. You only hurting your future and deceiving yourself.
- Endure Hardship: School is tough, and life is even tougher. Fold up your sleeves, burn the midnight candle, avoid the flashy life if you can’t afford it and try to study even when its not convenient. Do not give up due to the challenges you ‘ll face.
- Develop Skills: While you are studying also develop other support skills. Do not get stuck. skills will keep you afloat and maybe give you enough leverage to later chase your dream without worrying about a job.