• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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No tolerance for plagiarism in the Canadian curriculum – Obaro

No tolerance for plagiarism in the Canadian curriculum – Obaro

Ebi Obaro is the president of Maple Education Canada Inc., provider of Canadian Immigration and Education Consulting Services in Nigeria, with over 20 years of experience working with students and immigrants to Canada. She founded Maple Canadian College (MCC) after careful evaluation of the experiences and needs of international students in Canada.

The MCC programme was developed as a pre-university programme that bridges the gap between the Canadian High School curriculum and the West African High School syllabus and prepares students for top global universities.

As a certified Canadian Immigration and Education Consultant, Obaro who is also a member of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) and the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC), speaks on the MCC advantage. Excerpts by SEYI JOHN SALAU:

How did the journey towards promoting Canadian education in Nigeria start?

Before Canadian College, Maple Education Canada existed, that was our first company which was to recruit Nigerian students to go and study in Canada and to get their visas so that they would succeed, that’s what we did for many years before we finally opened the school in Nigeria.

It is not by chance that I got involved in Canadian education; I didn’t stumble into it. My family of seven of us, five children migrated to Canada at a time when Nigerians were not paying attention to Canada. Probably they were not aware.

So, having our five children go through Canadian education; some from elementary school and all of them through secondary school and university.

In the year 2000 I had this idea of promoting Canadian education to Nigerians, and the idea came from the fact that I had some family members called me to help their children go study in Canada.

Canada is indeed one of the best countries to live in the world because as a Nigerian, migrating to Canada and having a business idea to come back and tell my people; come and see what my children is enjoying, good quality education at no cost because primary school and secondary is free and University education is minimal for citizens.

So five years later, I needed to come back and do this and I approached a Canadian bank with my business plan and got a loan. When I came back the first time after five years, it just dawned on me how backward we are.

Then the Canadian government was not promoting their education anywhere in the world. I went to meet the Deputy Art commissioner here in Lagos and I told him why I was home, I told him I wanted to promote Canadian education, I have the passion,

Nigerians have to know what is happening in Canada; they have to send their children to Canadian schools and he said like really? What makes you think Nigerians will want to leave Nigeria and go and study in Canada?

I had to open his eyes to the fact that education is a product; it is like oil that we can sell. That was the beginning of us having seminars, events’ promoting Canadian education in Nigeria.

This was about 20 years ago; the rest is history: Canada has now become the preferred destination for Nigerian students.

What separates Maple Canadian College (MCC) from other Canadian colleges in Nigeria?

We have over 65 Canadian schools here; we can process admission to our partner schools for Nigerian students, but these schools are to bridge the gap in Curriculum.

If you go through the selection process and succeed, you will be getting a 20,000 Canadian dollars scholarship and these will cover tuition, accommodation, feeding, uniform and every other thing that is required because we also pay for activities and things that would be covered in the school; so we take care of that person 100 percent.

There are two other students who will get a 50 percent scholarship, so they will be getting like a 3.3millon or 10,000 Canadian dollars each.

Students will also enjoy automatic scholarships based on students’ admission average.

Starting from September 2022, African students studying in English will benefit from substantial scholarships when they enrol in one of the following programs: Faculty of Engineering – Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering; Faculty of Social Sciences – Sociology, Anthropology, International Development and Globalization, Conflict Studies, Public Administration. Faculty of Science – all programs except, Honours BSs in Biochemistry/BSc in Chemical, Engineering (Biotechnology), Honours BSc in Physics/BSc Electrical Engineering, Honours BSc in Ophthalmic Medical Technology.

Since you started promoting Canadian education in Nigeria, what would you say are the major challenges faced by students trying to move between both curriculums?

You know that there are gaps in the curriculum. Sometimes you find out that the curriculum has nothing to do with reality; there is no way to transfer what is learnt in class with what is done in the real world.

And that was really for them the greatest challenge. Having to come here and apply knowledge, go through the Canadian curriculum and then transfer the knowledge is really the greatest challenge that they have had to overcome.

But another thing I discovered is that we don’t do things timely, they haven’t learnt how to do things timely. And so when deadlines are set, they have a challenge meeting the deadline.

It is the very first thing they go through in the first month; they are struggling with meeting those deadlines and making sure that they are not missed. Because when you miss deadlines in the Canadian curriculum there is a penalty for it.

You tend to lose marks once your deadline has passed so we had to get them to understand; meet deadlines on time, make sure your work is ready and you have the privilege to show your teachers before you submit to your Canadian teacher. So, those were things that they needed to learn.

Another thing I discovered that they had big issues with is plagiarism. There is no framework for plagiarism in Nigeria; there is no framework put in place in the Nigerian curriculum.

And so a child doesn’t know that copying and pasting without citing or sourcing the owner of the work, they didn’t have a clue. There is no tolerance for plagiarism in the Canadian curriculum; in the Western world, there is just no tolerance for that.

And so, they had a lot of academic integrity issues at the beginning and there are stages to handling those academic issues we raised still and with the Canadian curriculum, when you commit the first offence, they just flag you.

But by the second one, you have to invite your parents so that there can be an understanding between the child and the parents, informing them this is where the child committed an offence, it is very specific.

The unit of the lesson is quoted, and then the parents have to read what the violation is and then have a discussion with their child in the presence of the principal.

And then after that they both have to sign the academic integrity form, so those were things that they were never accustomed to doing.

Can you speak more about the curriculum; what will be your suggestions to the government on how to improve on the curriculum to meet international standards?

Because the education system doesn’t correlate with real life and unfortunately everybody is passing through the same system including teachers.

Everybody is passing through that same system. And so the tendency is the outcome which will be the same. The people teaching and the people receiving will be the same thing, so there is a need for training.

I am not in the school of thought that we should take in another person’s educational system, I am of the opinion that what we have is very robust.

But we need now to put some extras into it, review. There is no time where we really review and even when the review will take place, it is not done by educationists; it is done by people outside of education who have no clue what is truly happening inside.

So, if this review is going to be done and done with the intent to actually improve the outcome then educationists need to sit down, look at the curriculum, look at real-life and find a way to put some balance into what the students are learning.

And then infuse technology; there is no education without technology. And so we need to, from the bottom, from the primary we need to infuse technology so that they are not left behind.

Read also: China revises law to promote vocational education

And so the government must as a necessity put things in place so that these children can leverage and then there is no danger that somebody is going full speed ahead and another child is left behind.

That just determines where they end up. And the government just needs to understand the place of education and put everything that it needs into it.

I also think that education needs to be practical, it has to be relatable, it has to be fun infusing technology into the curriculum will go a long way in making students understand better what they have been taught.

I go back to when I left school many many years ago; we had our textbooks; our physics books, biology textbooks, chemistry textbooks.

When I went to Canada, though I had finished university here, I had to take some computer courses because I had to fit back into the system. Before we left Nigeria for Ghana, I had to go to a computer school and it was so easy to understand. You can teach yourself, computers can be self-taught.

What other areas can we improve upon to better our education system?

Teachers have to be certified, you can’t just say; oh, I studied history so I am going to teach history. No, you have to go back, especially if you don’t have an education background; you need an education background and you have to be certified to be able to teach.

And that certification will teach them a lot to be able to impart knowledge to students. So, what I am saying is that apart from the gap in the curriculum which is the content of the curriculum, Canadian content is way more advanced than Nigerian content.

Some of our students taking physics here are now looking at subjects that they will teach them here and allow them to go straight to a university in Canada to study engineering.

Just imagine that. Content, the way it is being taught, practicalities and let’s not forget that we don’t wait until the last term to start reading for exams, it is a continuous assessment.

So, when you do the continuous assessment, you will know the content, you will know the subject because continuous assessment means they teach you this topic, you study it, there are quizzes in the class, you do a test, you do assignments, you do group work and then you take an examination.