Cambridge curriculum prepares Nigerian students for international exams – Visser
Nigerian students were among the top performers in the recently concluded Cambridge International examinations, winning awards for top performance in the November 2020 exam series. As a result, fifty-three students have been granted the prestigious Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards in various subjects at Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O’Level, and Cambridge International AS & A Level. Juan Visser, Cambridge International’s Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, speaks to ANTHONY NLEBEM about the development. Excepts:
How would you rate the performance of Nigerian students abroad?
I cannot comment on students in general, I can limit my comments to those who compete using the Cambridge curriculum.
Nigerian students do very well and the main reason is that the Cambridge curriculum helps the students prepare for examinations. For example, they will be sitting in places like Dubai, London, France, and those areas; it means that the performance that learners will achieve would be identical to those in other parts of the world. A learner getting an A star in Nigeria is the same standard as a learner getting an A star at a school in the UK, or in the US, that is why they do very well with our study in overseas universities and local universities within Nigeria.
How has COVID-19 impacted learning?
COVID-19 is one of the pandemics that impacted all aspects and spheres of society globally, including education. I think like any other industry, education has been resilient. Many of the Chinese schools offering the Cambridge curriculum were able to adapt very quickly and offer learners additional courses online for them, allow them to continue study using textbooks for example, so they could still be prepared for those exams.
So, I’m exceptionally proud of both the schools and the learners in Nigeria who are still getting these excellent results regarding the Cambridge Learner Awards. These are comparable to the best in the world.
Cambridge operates in 160 countries globally. Nigerian students can perform at the same level and as mentioned, in the same exams that are taken. There are excellent performances and we also check first and foremost, that the schools are registered also with the local department of education in the first instance. So that is a necessary criterion.
We then check that the school has the Five Pillars of learning that a school must meet to offer the Cambridge curriculum. The school then will commence teaching the curriculum, and when the candidates are ready, they are presented for the examinations. As I said, it’s an identical exam and the performance of the candidates in that exam will be the same as anywhere else in the world.
Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards
A star in Nigeria has the same values as an A-star that is obtained by a learner in France, for example. They will then go through a rigid application procedure and once they’ve been accredited to start offering the Cambridge curriculum. Any interested schools can visit our website, cambridgeinternational.org. On the landing page, there’s a link that says ‘I would like to join Cambridge’, and can click on the link to complete their registration.
A Nigerian wishing to apply for admission, what are the processes?
The processes wouldn’t apply to the university itself, you do not have to have a Cambridge schooling qualification. You can do that with the systems in many countries. You can visit the university’s website for the criteria. Cambridge exams are widely accepted by many of the leading universities globally. You can go to our public website there is an area for a variety of criteria for university.
But with a Cambridge qualification, learners can access top universities within Nigeria, South Africa, the US, the UK, and many other parts of the world.
Throw more light on the partnership between Cambridge Master and the British Council of Nigeria?
We have worked with the British Council for a very long time; they have a large scheme on the ground. They are also very skilled and running high-stakes examinations. They are our partners and they also work with us to complete the accreditation of the schools. We’ve worked with them for many years and we also work with them in about 110 countries globally. They are very reliable partners and also very good at running high-stakes exams.
Do you see learning going fully digital because of COVID?
I don’t think learning can go fully digital, I think we saw some form of that. But we do see an increase in the ability or the requirements for online learning or blended learning where some of it would be physical and some of it would be online. The biggest value of the school is socialisation and other activities such as sports.
I think as a species, we want to meet and deal with each other, and if the pandemic has taught us one thing is that we do need other people.
So, I think in the medium term, once the pandemic falters we will have a return to school. But I think just as with working, there will be strong elements of using digital. It will allow us to, for example, record lessons; you can replay those, and you can see those again.
So, I think the world of work, learning, and schooling has probably changed. But to a large degree, in the medium term say the next five years people attending school will be the norm.
What do we see going forward in terms of expectations from Nigeria and more schools coming on board?
We have high expectations as we have seen over the past year and we have probably opened 25 new schools over the past six months within Nigeria despite COVID.
We found out that there is a very strong demand especially for learners wishing to study abroad.
Yes, we do see an increase in demand. Globally, we have accredited over 600 new schools over the last eight months but 25 in Nigeria.
Tell us about the award and how many years has it been?
We have been running Outstanding Learners Awards for about 20 years, and every year Nigeria has been showing the numbers, which are very consistently high. The award this year reflects the performance and the schools have been remarkable. 2020 was an exceptionally tough year for learners and these learners did the exams or took the assessments under very trying conditions.
Kudos to the students as well as the schools for being able to prepare them, but certainly, Nigeria always does very well, globally with our Outstanding Learner Award.