She scored the same mark of 330 twice in her Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination, as results-in 2022 and 2023. That was in the science subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and the use of English language. These came after scoring 5As (Mathematics, Further Maths, Economics, Animal Husbandry and Civic Education), 3Bs (Physics, Biology, English Language) and 1 C4 (Chemistry) for her Ordinary Level, West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) in 2022. She is Blessing Oyiza Abraham.
The 17year-old determined and brilliant mind, who has Dr. Ben Carson and late Professor Dora Akunyili as her heroes in the medical field, as well as Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala and Chimamanda Adichie as her female mentors caught the attention of yours truly for this piece, because like many of her peers across the country, she wants to excel in life. But can she scale the high hurdles of tuition fees and all manner of levies ahead of her quest for self-actualization? That is the million-naira question.
And it is pertinent due to the fact that she hails from a rather low economic background. This is what she has to say in that regard: “I’m from the family of Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Idowu Johnson. I hail from Obeiba, Ihima, in Okehi Local Government Area of Kogi State. My father is a blacksmith while my mother is a petty trader.
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
– Malcolm X
“I’m the last child of my parents. I had my primary education at Demonstration Nursery and Primary School in I had my secondary education in Complete Man International school, Gauraka ,Niger State where I obtained my SSCE.
“My parents aren’t much educated but they know the value of education. They have played a crucial role in meeting up to my needs that will enhance my learning, such that their prayers and encouragement cannot be overemphasized
On her motivation she states that: “ I have always liked to be around students or people that will challenge my ability. I’ve heard, researched and discovered that they are very competitive. This was a motivation to me, to be around students that will challenge and motivate me to study more.
Highlighting the feature of doing well with her studies she explains it that: “I’m blessed with knowledgeable teachers, they are the hind actors behind my success. Dr. Delightsome, Dr. Ige of Explicit Online Tutorials, Mr. Victor Alalade , Mr. M.B.S, Mr Emeke have all been great inspiration to me and I thank God for bringing them my way”.
But why did she have to sit for JAMB examination twice? That was the compelling question. She responds that: “I applied before at the University of Ilorin, but there was a delay in releasing their admission list so I thought it wise to rewrite JAMB.
“I felt bad. I had prepared harder for this and expected a better result. Having same result as before, I felt like I haven’t put any much effort or gathered more knowledge”. That is the mindset of a goal-getter for you.
As she awaits her admission into the University of Ilorin, Kwara state for medicine and surgery the critical and controversial issue of the proposed introduction of tuition fees in government-owned tertiary institutions vis-à-vis that of the Student’s Loan by the President Ahmed Tinubu-led government in the country comes to the fore.
How easy will it be for the parents of Blessing and millions of others in their shoes to pay the tuition fee? That is more so, going by the recent removal of the controversial fuel subsidy, when the promised palliatives are yet to take off. This has led to the escalating inflation. The fears of concerned Nigerians that some students may have to drop out of school is real!
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That explains why the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Uni¬versities (ASUU), Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, has described the introduction of the Student Loan Act as a move that “could put on hold the aspirations of many young Nigerians that are dependent on public institutions to acquire tertiary education”. This sad scenario raises some cardinal and fundamental questions.
Why is it that since independence in 1960 only the Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led Western Region budgeted up to 26% for education as recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)? The situation has been so parlous that under the immediate past administration of Muhammadu Buhari the highest proposal for the education sector stood at N1.79 trillion, representing about 8.8 per cent of the total N20.5 trillion proposal. In fact in 2016 it was the 7.9 per cent! With that how can the country grow?
This runs contrary to the views of some world leaders. For instance, Boris Johnson, the former British Prime Minster stated that: “My job is to make sure your kids get a superb education wherever they are in the country and that is the work that begins immediately”.
With regards to Miss Blessing Abraham, the option will be for her to go for the Student Loan to study medicine. But then, can she meet the conditions set?
While Sections 14 and 16 of the Act states that it comes “without any discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind” to be eligible, an applicant’s income or family income must be less than N500,000 per annum. Students must also provide at least two guarantors, each of whom must either be a civil servant of at least level 12, a lawyer with at least 10 years post-call experience, or a judicial officer, or a justice of peace.
One of the important reasons why the likes of Blessing needs the Student Loan to study her course of interest, which is medicine is because doing so will ignite in her the allegiance to the country, Nigeria. Besides, we will need her services. Though the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends one doctor to 600 patients globally, in Nigeria the ratio is one doctor to 10,000 patients. This is not only alarming but scandalous!
Compared to some other countries, the UK boasts of 2.8 doctors for every 1000 people. Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, and Switzerland all have more than 4 doctors for every 1000 people. The United States has 2.6 per 1,000. China and India recorded even lower numbers at 2.4 and 0.9 doctors per 1,000 people, respectively.
In the light of this, we do not want a situation whereby Blessing would be compelled by low salary package and poor working conditions to join the “japa syndrome” as over 4,000 Nigerian doctors are currently practising in the US. And no fewer than 632 Nigeria-trained doctors were plying their trade in Canada as of 2020 as at February 2022. The number of Nigerian-trained doctors plying working in the UK rose from 10,824 to 10,986.as at March, 2023.
To get the education paradigm right with the current administration, emphasis should go to the restructuring to get the states doing the needful. But more budgetary allocation should go to education, in line with the UNESCO recommendation of 26%. Focus should shift to providing the stable infrastructure, getting more quality teachers and their training and re-training. Public Private Partnership will play a great role in moving education forward.
As Nelson Mandela rightly noted, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In fact, it should be noted that education is the most impactful tool to drive industrialization, productivity and therefore, economic prosperity.