Lamenting Nigeria’s Brain Drain

Written by on October 25, 2017

Our country is currently experiencing a mass exodus of educated citizens. An increasingly larger number of Nigerian citizens are fleeing the country every year for reasons including improved economic opportunities and better education.

A large number of Nigerian immigrants in Western countries go on to earn impressive degrees. Although widely celebrated, this phenomenon is not quite that simple. A multitude of foreign-based Nigerian students attempt to work and live abroad permanently after graduation.

This proves very damaging to the Nigerian economy and identity. Excessive emigration creates a brain drain wherein Nigeria loses a number of its educated citizens and potential future leaders. Highly qualified technical staff who would otherwise have come back to improve the country are running away to other countries.

Let us go over the figures. As of 2016, Nigeria was ranked as the sixth largest market for recruiting international students to the UK Universities. According to United States consul-general John Bray, more than ten thousand Nigerian students are currently studying in the USA.

These countries encourage international scholarship because it means an increase in the profits and reputation enjoyed by their schools. However, these benefits are usually one-sided, as the development takes from our country and gives absolutely nothing in return. We as a people need to acknowledge how truly limited the benefits of foreign education are.

Nigerians believe that the West provides better employment opportunities, although this could not be farther from the truth. The UKCOSA survey indicated that a sixty-four percent majority of non-European international students had difficulties finding work. As for Nigerian graduates with foreign degrees, they find things equally difficult, with many forced to spend a year struggling in the Nigerian job market.

Another widely and falsely held assumption is that universities in foreign countries are less volatile than those in Nigeria. However, recent events indicate otherwise. In October 2016, a mass strike affecting fourteen state universities and over one hundred thousand students occurred in Pennsylvania in the USA over proposed education reforms.

Furthermore, over five hundred thousand students and twelve thousand teaching staff are affected by an ongoing strike in Ontario, Canada. UK universities staged three strikes within a six-week period over pay disputes in early 2014. Similarly, in May 2016, a similar strike occurred in the UK, but on a more national scale involving pressure groups and unions. These occurrences are evidence that the reliability of education abroad is not better than it is here Nigeria.

Nigerian perception of studying abroad is riddled with illusions. If we consider the larger picture, we would see the epic possibilities here at home. With a diverse population and one of the largest economies in the world, Nigeria’s economic future is promising.

If Nigeria’s education system is truly the problem, then we must do more to improve the nature of our education here, as opposed to sending our much-needed talent abroad to improve other countries where they are neither welcomed nor valued. May God Bless our beloved Country, Nigeria.

Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A is a political and International Affairs Analyst, based in Somerset, England, United Kingdom.


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