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Nigeria-Education:Ending the Brain Drain and Capital Flight

The latest fad amongst Nigeria’s new elite,is securing expensive foreign education for their children.Apparently,owning a bigger Mercedes Benz car than your neighbour no longer confers bragging rights.Keeping up with the Joneses  now means being able to say,”my children are also over there.They are doing their A levels in England.” Even if you end up “drinking Garri” at night.And,therein lies the problem : a practice which is usually the preserve of the upper class has gone mainstream,with dire consequences for Nigeria.As we all know,Nigeria may have enough for everybody’s need,but certainly not enough for everybody’s greed.A society where middle-class greed rivals upper-class privilege is heading for trouble.

Every normal society has a parasitic upper class,which is highly privileged.But because this class is usually tiny,it’s excesses are not so harmful to society.The rest of society can afford to ignore the antics of it’s members.Nigeria is abnormal in that every graduate is a would-be Lord,the result of the “indigenization” of colonialism.Instead of ending colonialism,we “indigenized” it,by replacing privileged white colonial officials with black ones.Our education system was primed  to produce black “Englishmen”,rather than workers.The resulting sense of entitlement means every village boy who makes good(only just),turns up his nose at the same Nigerian schools that produced him; he now wants to send his children to “Eton“. For secondary education,no less,for goodness sake.Outrageous.The usual excuse is that ” our  schools are dire.They have become  so bad”.An excuse used by even those,who attended poor village grammar school,usually near-barefoot,and on a breakfast of  “dry-garri and palm-kernel nuts”. Were those grammar schools really so great? .Give me a break.

Sure,the state of Nigerian schools leaves much to be desired.But,we will not solve the problem by promoting brain-drain and capital flight.Make no mistake about it,no matter how good their foreign education,most of these privileged kids are not coming back to work in Nigeria.So no skill or technology transfer on that front.Second,because their parents are comfortable,these kids will not remit a dime back to Nigeria.Instead,their parents will fund their education with money made from Nigeria.Nigeria gains absolutely nothing from their education,and loses everything in terms of human and financial capital lost.If these kids ever come back,they come as expatriates.An example is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.Although Nigeria needs her skills and know-how,and i believe she should be paid what she is worth,for all her “Nigerianness”,we might as well have  hired an American or Chinese economist.

Every serious government ought to be worried by this turn of events.Nigerian can ill-afford the loss of it’s youth on this scale.Certainly we cannot afford to continue to lose these millions of education-dollars each year.Our schools are derelict and teachers poorly-paid.If we invested some of these millions here,our education system will the better for it.By far.To redress the situation,government needs a mix of “carrot and stick” measures.To rebuild confidence in our school-system,government needs to invest heavily in education,not only by improving infrastructure,but also by making the working-conditions of teachers attractive.This is the only way to attract top teaching-talent.In addition,if it is okay for government to levy tariffs on imports,why not certain exports ? Government should impose a levy on anyone going abroad for secondary education(O and A levels).Something like 150,000 dollars a year per child.Now,this would certainly concentrate minds,and,in combination with better schools from which to choose,would deliver the change we crave.

8 responses to “Nigeria-Education:Ending the Brain Drain and Capital Flight

  1. dapxin (@dapxin) September 13, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    you mean nigeria is just about heading for trouble ?

    I feel sorry for your helplenessness….the trouble is here. brace up 😦

  2. henryik2009 September 15, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Hi Dapxin,sure trouble is here,but it could get much worse.Much worse.

  3. codliveroil September 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    HenryIK a very interesting topic, thank you for posting your opinions on it.

    1) The phenomenon you remarked on where the middle class usher the children outside as quickly as possible for foreign education is nothing new, this has been the case since the last 20 years at least. May be now it is more noticeable.

    2) You are right this obession with strengthening what others have built and neglecting what we have is “foolishness”. This manifests itself at every level in society, from people slavishly following European football clubs like Juventus or Manchester United, they have never been to these places and more than likely never will go there, but they purchase the team logo branded football tops and avidly follow foreign matches, whilst neglecting local sides. Yet we expect Nigeria to win the world cup!!!!

    The same thinking is in evidence with our athletes they all want to be based abroad, because the thinking is that they will flourish. The Jamaicans have well and truly dispelled that myth. Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell etc are based in Jamaica and have defeated US sprinters time and time again, from a country with less than 5 million inhabitants, they live comfortably in Jamaica and are not seeking to flee their homeland at the first opportunity. The lesson is we should look to ourselves and find our own solutions to our own problems, rather than forsaking what there is in Nigeria.

    We are patronising foreign schools/ institutions abroad and leaving those that remain to fend for themselves, yet we expect Nigeria to be in the top 20 largest world economies in 10 years. There is no logic or reason to that. Any country that is serious in developing is spending heavily on education, Nigeria thinks they can buck the trend. They should lay off the palm wine and rethink their strategy. Without a good education system, Nigeria is well and truly down the drain.

    3) Rather than penalising parents for sending their kids abroad. This will not work and will simply fuel more corruption amongst those officials who are responsbile for administering “choking off the intellectual leakage the country is experiencing”. A better approach would be to examine the ingredients that make foreign schools within Nigeria successful ie British and American schools. Copy those aspects that work and replicate that throughout the country, ie to make it more available to the masses. Special emphasis should be given to those bright kids from underprivilged backgrounds, so that they are set up to achieve and contribute to Nigeria.

    4) The ministry of education should be given high priority, and the necessary funds should given over to re-motivate teachers and staff, and make education once again a prestigious field to be in. This should be sustained not scaled back by the next administration, so that the benefits are lost.

    • celestina nwankwoala November 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      you all are right. The big question is who will bail the cat,?. Our goverment is busy with what I do not know and we are busy competing and seeing how to meet up and outshine our village chieifs and brothers. Pathetic!

  4. J.T. November 3, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Hi Henry, I tried to find your contact details as I wanted to ask if you were interested in writing a piece for a magazine. Please get in touch. Thanks!

  5. henryik2009 November 3, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Hi JT,thanks for stopping by.Might be interested,depends.
    contact me @; henryegenti2008@yahoo.com.

  6. MenaUkodoisready January 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm


    wherehave you been? you have been missed..have an awesome new year.


    the imf-sap-worldbank(okonjoiwealla) angle…is GEJ a puppet?


  7. henryik2009 January 12, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Mena
    Thanks for stopping by and the good will.I have been “distracted”.Will return to blogging.soon.

    As for GEJ,first,why do you think he is a puppet of the World bank ? And second,why do you imply that the World bank does not mean well ?

    I hope you have a brilliant 2012.Your obvious zest and enthusiasm deserve no less.

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