Have you ever sat back and compared the academic behaviour and practice of foreign universities’ students with Nigerian students? If you do, you will discover that news of findings and discoveries that emanates from foreign universities seldom occur in the Nigerian setting.
Ask the lecturers, they will point fingers at the government; ask the government, they will point fingers at the universities lecturer. It is a circle of shameless operators who do not know their left from their right but operates societal institutions. It is very painful to say the least that a lecturer who have not contributed to knowledge in all his career is fighting for increased payment.
On May 22nd, 2009, the University of Southern California (USC) announced a group of its undergraduates who launched what was possibly the first-ever student designed and student-built space rocket. . Their achievement, completes a decade-long informal competition among engineering schools worldwide to create the first university rocket to achieve spaceflight. Internal analysis shows the students’ vehicle, called Traveler IV, crossed the Karman Line that represents the international boundary of space at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers). The analysis confirmed the achievement with 90% certainty, USC officials added.
But why are strides, findings and discoveries like this never coming out of the Nigerian space? This perplexed my soul and makes me feel like we don’t know anything. But in contrast and in a self-contradictory thought, I also believe that the Nigerian student have what it takes to explore, discover, find and develop the immediate environment. What the Nigerian youth lacks are the institutions responsible to make this happens.
Also Read: The Conundrums of the African Child
The University Curriculum as the Woe and Impediment to Students’ Development
An Assoc. Prof. in my university once describes the Nigerian curriculum as a ‘curriculum for death’. His argument were borne out of the notion that the Nigerian Universities curriculum does not lead students to self-reliance after graduation. He however, contrasted the Nigerian curriculum with that of the American curriculum which he describes as a ‘curriculum for life’. In his opinion, the American curriculum focuses on what the student will do after graduation and thus, helps to become useful after graduation.
Corroboratively, the 100 level curriculum does not set students on the paths of pure research behaviour. Hence, students comes to the university blind to the tenets of research practice. This breeds massive copy and paste behaviour on the part of the Nigerian students.
Poor Lecturer Quality
You see? We are our own problems in this Nigeria and there is not doubt to it. We use man know man to employ lecturers, the qualitative applicants will not be employed. Aside this, the general lecturer tendencies does not focus on due research behaviours. Many lecturers in Nigeria are the worst I have come across. No research intents. many are elements of huge copy and paste and plagiarism. This is a very strong arguments against the Nigerian lecturers. If you argue this, petition your VC to bring back all the works lecturers used for promotion, test all of them, give them 30% plagiarism test, their papers wont still fly. They will all come down.
As if to add insult to injury, lecturers use undergraduate works and publish them. I hope you can see that in this Nigeria, we have no hope? What do undergraduates even know that a shameless lecturer will publish what they wrote? These are same undergraduates that are woefully taught in an unqualitative environment and by non-qualitative lecturers.
High Level of Plagiarism
It seems like nothing will ever work in the Nigerian education system. I have petitioned over and over again, nothing came out. In many Nigerian universities, especially in public universities, we don’t test mere assignments for plagiarism. Hence, students print and even painfully photocopy their fellow students works and submit to a lecturer and they accept. This is the woe of the university. What is now the single impetus for the intelligent students to actually sit their ass down and do a great job? You have shown that you are a collector of plagiarized assignments, hence the students have treated you according to your worth.
Weak Universities’ Academic Policies
If you study universities behaviour carefully, you will notice they pay more attention to money than research practice. Research practice for 100 level students in many universities is missing, hence, they do as they like especially in accordance with their level of understanding. There is no policies that modulates lecturer’s research practice, hence, anything that lecturers write and published are accepted for promotion without testing for plagiarism.
Sometimes, I feel that many Nigerian universities does not understand what plagiarism mean for the academic community. For the records, testing works for plagiarism helps researchers to actually bring out their works from their brains rather than copying online works. It breeds ingenuity, authenticity, talents discoveries, formulation of theories and academic concepts, etc. So, without a core use of plagiarism, what we do may just be a waste of time in the Universities – hence, little wonder we cannot find nor discover anything because he who copy and paste cannot find anything.
Whenever I come across some lecturers, my belief that the universities are placed in the wrong hands is reinforced and I take solace in my conclusion that nothing good can come out of Jerusalem as many students knew more than what the university lecturers have to offer. I can’t even recount how many times I felt like leave some classes (during undergraduate through post-graduate) because what I saw was like taking me backward. No knowledge is lost of course, but those were just irrelevancies or at best, relevant materials taught with the worst approach ever. To do the extraordinary, students have to be self-learnt, vibrant beyond the universities curriculum, and perform in line with their level of understanding.
I sometimes mind my use of words to avoid offense in my writings. But where I decide to state things the way they are, the academic woes are just too deep and it all seems no one understands how to resolve these issues. So, the Nigerian educational system remains without findings and discoveries. Deep in poor quality, soaked in plagiarism and far from anything good, the Nigerian universities are a shadow of what a university should look like – little wonder our level of ratings in the comity of world universities.
As researchers don’t write without recommending what can be done to arrest the situation, the following have been suggested as a way out of the mess in Nigerian Universities.
1. Introduce plagiarism checks for all university works. Be it mere assignment, seminars, projects, thesis, dissertation, books, journals, conference papers, etc; be it students or lecturers’ works. This is the beginning to pure academic intents and research in the universities. Foreign universities students I have come across from various countries and universities, this is what they do. They test all assignments to ensure the students bring something from their brains. This is not too much to do.
2. Lecturers should stop giving freshmen 100 pages assignments. 1 or 2 pages is enough or as their power can carry. This will make them utilize the few pages to drop ideas rather than going online, downloading and printing for submissions. This is the practice that kills their ingenuity. The ideas is with them. What the university does is to pressure them to bring out that idea. Please, go online and read more about Steve Jobs and the development of the iPhone.
3. Introduce research methods for 100 level students. For more than a decade, I have watched how universities lay a bad foundation for 100 level students. This only makes universities students plagiarism inclined. Even at final year, graduating students are unable to conduct their works themselves properly. In a particular session, my department conducted a project seminar for graduating students to aid them in their project writing. A student who already completed her project cried because what was being said and what she has done were two different things altogether. You can now see the misplaced priority of the Nigerian universities. Why not introduce research practice in 100 level and these students grows with the knowledge till final year rather than bringing up these things at the end? The curriculum as argued above is actually a curriculum for death!
4. Ensure that only lecturers who are sound in research practice teach research courses in 100 level as we are all aware that many lecturers are deaf, incongruent and not in alignment wth research principles.
5. Continue to teach research principles from 100 level through final year.
6. Lecturers must reject assignments and papers photocopied or printed from another student and submitted as fulfillment of their academic requirements.
7. Lecturers’ retraining is a must if universities must get it right.
8. Universities must establish policies to fight Pull Him Down Syndrome – a situation where lecturers sit on top of students’ endeavours and striving. Thereby killing what is actually needed in the university. These day, many Nigerian universities are soaked in bad minds against each other. Lecturers against lecturers and students against students. Politics here and there. All these must stop if we must focus on pure academics.
9. Lecturers must focus on the outcome and not the income. Lecturers for the income are always after selling of textbooks and many of these books rarely carry any important academic ideas.
10. Students must be given the orientation to focus on pure academic research. It is good for their academic wellbeing.
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