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*Why are Nigerians in Thailand? Part 2 (Educational Approach)
By Emmanuel Nweke Okafor
I was so delighted for the various comments I got from various people across the globe both from Nigerians and non- Nigerians. I was deeply encouraged to keep on sharing my personal ideas on why Nigerians are in Thailand from the positive outlook. At this point, I have not got any contrary information that will make me change my position, namely, that many Nigerians are in Thailand for good reasons other than the negative positions of some writers in Thailand via internet postings.
Hence, in this PART 2, it calls for knowledge of the direction of the “good reasons” in which many Nigerians are in for, as against some of the internet blogs that drive joy in condemning Nigerians in Thailand as all criminals, scammers, and bunch of nuisance. In my opinion, I observed that an average Nigerian student in Thailand enjoys the university environment here in Thailand. Many Nigerian lecturers and teachers also enjoy the fact that their salary are paid at and as when due by Thai universities and schools. It is also unfortunate to note that a few Nigerians in Thailand also use their fellow Nigerians as bait in business net. It is therefore my view that all the Nigerians in Thailand irrespective of the field have a part to play in repositioning the image of the Nigeria and Nigerians as wrongly presented to the world by those who may be better described as “enemies of Nigerians living in Thailand”. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Map of Thailand
Limitations, intention and methods:
As I had said in my PART 1, this article is meant to rebuff the various internet websites that wrongly generalize the activities of Nigerians in Thailand to be only drug businesses and scamming activities. I do not also think that I am writing a pure academic paper. I am only presenting an observation from a lived-life by Nigerians in Thailand. My sole intention is to encourage my fellow Nigerians who consider Thailand as a country that will broaden their horizon and perspective in life to move on without fear of some of the internet’s wrong and misleading information about the activities of Nigerians in Thailand. I have always consulted many Nigerians in Thailand and hard even met with some websites that publish incorrect information about Nigerians in Thailand. The various comments from my previous write-ups were also considered.
It is not my intention to promote Thailand and demote my beloved country Nigeria. It is my intention to let all websites that see the only bad aspect of Nigeria and Nigerians in Thailand to do please review their positions and see Nigeria and Nigerians as a country and people in the process of development like other countries. It is possible that I could be in errors in my position if proven otherwise but for now, let the world know that many Nigerians in Thailand are also responsible, good-looking, talented, extremely well educated and destined to contribute positively to the world.
Ever before the establishment of Thai embassy in Abuja, many Nigerians had witnessed one form of trouble in one way or other by either being arrested for either traveling with a fake visa or passport that belongs to other countries. There were many cases in which some Nigerians were caught when they went to renew their visa on another country's passport. The results often lead to an arrest and a phone call. It all centered on the fact that, at that time, Thailand has no embassy in Nigeria which means that Nigerians have to go to London to get Thai visa. Those who tried to get Thai visa through the British embassy found it very hard. This resulted to the fact that many Nigerians and other agencies provided visa in some other ways other than the proper and normal channel.
However, this article intend to let all know that many stories about Nigerians living in Thailand are either exaggerated or outdated which means that there is need for more update of which I have preferred the positive/educational outlook. It is wrong to still maintain that many Nigerians in Thailand have fake passport or visa. As a matter of fact, the number of Nigerians entering Thailand of recent is mostly students and businessmen and women who follow the normal visa process in Abuja. I will personally share more ideas from the educational point of view on why Nigerian students are in Thailand for merely for educational purposes and not for drug, 419 or fraudulent activities. This is not to state that all Nigerian students in Thailand are saints or perfect human being. ( Continues below….. )
I am not in any difficulty to note that in some ways, the history of pedagogy in Nigeria was initially an apparent story of success. It was on record that in the seventies and eighties, the records of educational policies in Nigeria were seemingly satisfying. Formal education in Nigeria attained its highest point when schools were being managed by the voluntary agencies, namely the Christian mission. In those days, religious education was taught and practiced in schools. The morality of the teachers and students were not questionable. The missionaries equipped and maintained these schools. There were strong education policies and principles. The memories of Universal Primary Education (UPE) which later changed to Universal Free Primary Education (UFPE) were encouraging enough. Sequel to that, the abrogation of tuition fees and the reduction of boarding and lodging fees were all aimed at maximization of educational gains. With the introduction of UPE and the reduction of cost of education at all levels, thousands thronged to educational pursuit.
However, the 6-3-3-4 educational system was a welcomed development, but the present state of things shows that it is no more functional. The policy was introduced to give students technical skills and help them acquire both scientific and literary knowledge among other things as earlier mentioned. The past educational feats were not without their own problems. The clamor for more educational institutions came up because each state wanted its own University or Tertiary institutions. Those who did not get any felt cheated and of course, they can cry of being marginalized. This was the proverbial last straw that broke the Carmel’s back. The government of Nigeria took over the management of school in order to fund the sector directly because of the value placed on education. The take over was also to harmonize the system and foster national unity. But then this funding turned out to be the bane of educational institutions to date. Due to the negative attitudes which people have shown towards government work, the funds budgeted for education have all been embezzled and misappropriated.
Teachers were owed salaries for months which then resulted in incessant strikes, their moral became low and their input reduced drastically. It is good to note that because of the poor standard of living which the teachers were forced into, they lost their respect among students who openly abuse and attack them at will. The parents on the other hand, took the advantage of the teacher’s poor situation to insult the teachers when the parents feel that their children have been maltreated. Morality, discipline and honesty were thrown over-board. The dark perennial clouds that hovered over those years continue to cover our bearing coupled with the present chaos and face-off in our institutions. Amidst all the crimes committed in Secondary and Tertiary institutions are due to lack of discipline. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) protesting in Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria in 2010.
Click For Enlarged Photo
When Religious education was de-emphasized, morality began to suffer. The subsequent lack of morality resulted in riots, unrest, indiscipline, examination malpractices and mutilation of results. No single session passes in our campuses without student unrest of one kind or another. Also the lack of educational facilities and teaching aids is another problem that has crippled educational growth. The grievances of the lecturers and students in the existential also had all the time lacked adequate attention.
From my own point of view, all these called for a change with a more pragmatic and participatory learning style. Since these changes are no where to be found, some parents, students and concerned Nigerians have taken the decision on their own to search for a better place where the education of their children, family members and friends is not tampered with. Some of these Nigerians who cannot afford to study in the United States, United Kingdom, and European countries then found Thailand universities more attractive because it is cheaper and have no sign of strike actions irrespective of the political problems presently experienced in Thailand.
Therefore, many Nigerians who come to Thailand to study are purely doing so for educational purposes and not for drug, scamming or any form of illegal business. Many of these Nigerians in Thailand universities are just trying to ‘make do’ with what is available in order to avoid the frustrating situation some of them may have embraced at home either in a form of long years of waiting for WAEC or JAMB result. In order words, some Nigerians students are studying in Thailand for good reasons and not for bad reasons. I consider it as a commendable positive approach to life instead of doing nothing. Many of Nigerian students in Thailand understand that the importance of education lies in its ability to make man better and more fulfilled.
Without good governance, development in its true meaning will continue to be a mirage. It is only an ignorant man that feels comfortable when public funds that belong to all citizens are amassed by the public office holders. Education frees people from mental slavery and empowers people economically, socially, and politically. As Bertrand Russell says, education is to rear up the new man of excellence (Russell B, 1961, pp. 4-18). I will therefore argue that well-meaning Nigerians in Thailand should not be intimidated with the generalization of all Nigerians in Thailand as criminals. I do not think that Nigerians in Thailand should be singled out for malicious reasons and cheap publicity that is devoid of necessary international journalism.
Why some Nigerians enjoy Thai educational environment:
To every critical and even uncritical but perceiving mind which is abreast with our existential situation, it is quite clear that education in Nigeria is in a very pitiable state and needs revival. The issue of WAEC, NECO, GCE and JAMB may have alienated many Nigerian students directly or indirectly and have succeeded in keeping many students from furthering their education. There is seemingly a very low standard of education; hence we have become victims of the culture of mediocrity. Many factors are obviously responsible for this namely
The first thing that vitiates the progress of education in Nigeria is that teachers at all levels feel that they are not handsomely paid. This enables teachers to be less dedicated, to seek other avenues of making money to make ends meet, brain drain and incessant strike actions. How do we imagine the outcome of an educational system where universities are closed down for more than six months in a year? What do we expect from students at this period? A saying has it that “an idle man is a devil’s workshop” or “the devil makes work for idle hands”. It is indeed lamentable. I have not met any Nigerian student in Thailand that is worried of a strike action irrespective of Thailand un-ending political logjam. The common feeling is that most Nigerian students are very comfortable studying in Thailand and some are even inviting their cousins, brother, sisters and friends to do so. I do hope that the issue of teachers’ salary should be settled amicably so that Nigerian teachers should be enabled to do what they are trained for. An average Nigerian teacher in Thailand receives about $1000 (equivalent to about N158, 000. 00). Again, an average Nigerian teacher in Thailand gets this money and manages it very well without fear of armed robbers or any form of insecurity. This further explains why many Nigerians are in Thailand not necessarily for drug business.
The infiltration of ‘secret societies’ into our schools today is another debilitating factor with regard to education in Nigeria. In fact, ‘secret societies’ now have their headquarters on campus. Students prefer to attend the meetings of these societies than to do their class work. Through these odd societies, they commit a lot of crime and cause a lot of harm in the universities ranging from murder and rape to harassing of workers, lecturers and fellow students. Although Thailand had a similar situation in some of their universities but it appears that they are well-handled as the Thai police is in charge of the situation. Based on this, Nigerian students in Thailand are feeling relaxed as they face only the racial issues which are preferable to many of them than the threat of the “secret societies” in Nigerian universities. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: University of Ado-Ekiti (UNAD) students demonstrate against cultism.
The next is poor infrastructure which is a common problem in all educational institutions in Nigeria. Many of the Primary schools which are the base of education are still operating scandalously below normal. Hence it was once quoted “About sixty percent (60%) of pupils in our Primary schools do not have furniture, seats and desks to write upon. In fact, at all levels the problem persists. Decaying infrastructures have turned Nigerian Universities from Centers of academic excellence to ivory towers of shame” (Ugwu E. and Fola A, March 23, 1999, p.18). Research facilities have broken down and are too obsolete to produce any meaningful and tangible results. The collapse of most laboratories on campus has led to practical courses being taught theoretically (Ugwu et al, March 23, 1999, p.19). As a consequence, the universities turn out dry biologists, dry doctors from laboratories that have no water, no chemicals and equipment. This has exacerbated the problem to such an extent that many students graduate from schools full of words but as vessels empty of intellectual discipline. Today’s report if given cannot give a positive answer since there is no remarkable development since then. The education sector, which is the key to the development of any nation, has not fared too well either in Nigeria.
A recent ranking of the world's top universities did not locate any Nigerian University among the top 500, despite a reported increase in school fees and the establishment of private universities. Yet in the past Nigerian universities and their products were competing with the best from other societies in the world. For years, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was still embroiled in a strike over better welfare and improved working conditions, which has resulted in millions of under-graduates staying at home, and susceptible to criminal activities. Even the fact that upon reception of office new Ministry of Education changes what his or her predecessor has done raises a serious and troubling question. This simply demonstrated that the Nigerian government has always been struggling to provide herself with a befitting educational system that will benefit all and sundry but then the road to such has not been easy hence some Nigerians who cannot afford to pay for the USA, EU, UK education decided to study in Thailand irrespective of the fact that Thailand would not have been the desired option by some of the students. Can we then agree with some of the writers hovering around Thailand that Nigerians are in Thailand for scamming? My direct answer is NO!
Suggestions and conclusion:
Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and natural resources and this is reflected in some of the commendable policies that are being formulated on education. In all, it is very clear that the road has not been smooth and is still cloudy in the Nigerian educational system. It is clear that the present attitude of many Nigerians to education is not only uncalled for and unwarranted but suicidal. Now is the time to extricate education from any overture to which it has been lured into. As such, we must all rethink and change for the better by making education one of our priorities both as individuals and as a nation or state. Nigeria today is in a pool of confusion due to various problems: economic, social, political, religious et cetera.
And the first step to get over these problems is by giving education its proper place. This is why we must do something positive about education in our country now. It is not as if the country has had no educational policy. Nigerians have conceived and developed great policies alright, but they have been only peripherally implemented, with an inconsistency that suggests that we are merely sampling every conceivable policy without a clear goal in view. This has led to short term commitments to policy implementation with the obvious result of achieving nothing. What we need now is ‘pick and polish’ policies and curriculum that would accomplish the goals of illiteracy and development. The government should confine itself mainly to regulatory function in the nation’s education system by setting standards, encouraging compliance, providing supervision, giving incentives and scholarships, promoting infrastructural development, fighting corruption and misappropriation of the funds that cripple any working policy. These are direly needed to investigate and revamp the decaying structures and standards that affect the education system.
What the public read and see in the internet blogs about Nigerians in Thailand as presented by some writers were mere blame game that indeed employed dirty tricks to hide their callous acts in Thailand such as murder cases, pedophiles cases, sex with minor cases, fraudulent cases and many other related cases. Interestingly, they have good and responsible ambassadors that come to their aid.
I do not see any sign of intellectual maturity or morality among the self-serving writers whose aim is to the cheap publicity rather than public and for Thailand’s interest. I see some of their hasty generalization as a compensation for their lack of credibility and severe image problem by mounting strong internet attacks against Nigeria and Nigerians in Thailand, trying to drive a wedge between the Thai governments and the Nigerian government and thereby creating an atmosphere of distrust. It is another form of Neo-colonialist interference which Thailand even could not allow (The Nation, June 1, 2010). It comes in many forms sometimes covered with fig leaf of humanitarians concern. I see that as describe it as distortions, half-truths or outright lies. This approach is blatantly uncivilized, barbaric and not fashionable in this 21st century. I personally feel that the idea of these writers is to intimidate, harass an innocent Nigerians. It is a misplaced gesture of blind trust most Nigerians have for the writers.
In all, just as internet gives even an unqualified man or woman a chance to express his or her own opinion and make himself or herself heard, I believe that if enough Nigerians in Thailand should speak up, we will make an impart towards rebranding and reposition our destroyed image by both Nigerians and acclaimed enemies of Nigerians. There is no doubt that many Nigerians in Thailand are imbued with the highest level of integrity, impartiality, good-looking, talented, and extremely well-educated and patriotism.
Finally, Nigerian government should have appropriate curriculum and suitable teaching and learning equipment for each educational program; be able to build academic networks with other countries; provide teaching methods that enable students to become efficient citizens within the African community and the world at large. With this in effect, the Nigerian students will be happy and relaxed studying in Nigeria thereby avoiding the unnecessary insult and assault we receive from both Nigerians and the non-Nigerians.
Why are Nigerians in Thailand? Part 1 at -
Emmanuel Nweke Okafor is a PhD Student in Graduate School of Philosophy/Religion, Assumption University Thailand. He is presently a lecturer and the Supervisor in Language Laboratory Center, Siam University Thailand. He is a licensed teacher in Thailand. He also has his masters in educational administration in Thailand. He can be contacted vis his email address firstname.lastname@example.org
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