Thursday, March 26, 2009

Looking at American Education with Nigerian Eyes (I)

The following post first appeared in my weekly column in the print edition of Weekly Trust, Abuja, Nigeria on April 8, 2006.

By Farooq A. Kperogi
Two days ago, I was invited to give a talk at a school here on the Nigerian educational system. I was at once honored and flattered by the invitation.

First, I didn’t think that there was anything about the Nigerian educational system that Americans would like to know about. Second, I didn’t know what qualified me to speak on Nigerian educational system.

Well, the invitation was only the latest addition to the string of recognitions I have been receiving in this very warm and lovely city since I came here. Two city newsmagazines, for instance, had interviewed me and written two-page profiles on me.

At first, it was a very discomforting experience for me because I have spent the greater part of my professional career interviewing people and aggressively ferreting out information from them without any thought that I would also some day be interviewed by a journalist for a story. Talk of the hunter being hunted. But I deviate.

My lecture was well-received. I was pleasantly surprised that both the students and the teachers at the school found many things useful that I shared with them about Nigeria’s educational system.

I have been intrigued by the differences between the educational systems of Nigeria—which is a mishmash of British and American systems—and that of the United States.

Many of my friends and readers of my column have asked me to share with them my experiences of the American educational system.

What I find interesting is that while Americans are curious about our system, and even think it’s more rigorous than theirs, many Nigerians think the worst of what they have.

In the next few weeks, I will be chronicling my experiences of the fascinating vistas of the American educational landscape.

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