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From a participant: Nigerian YES teacher surprised by U.S. education system

June 29, 2010

Mr. Anyam Adzever is an English and religious studies teacher from Benue State, Nigeria. He teaches at the Government Model School of Makurdi, and in 2006, he was elected Best Male Teacher at the school. Adzever strongly believes in engagement, volunteerism and extracurricular activities.

Mr. Anyam visited the Iowa between May 16-June 6 and chaperoned the Nigerian students on their flight back home. During his visit, Mr. Anyam hoped to learn more about the U.S. education system and about technology, especially computers.

Anyam AdzeverHereunder is a general report of the schools and places I visited during the three-week YES Program in the United States. It’s not going to be a report on individual schools, but will be subdivided into headings:

Teaching and Learning Facilities

School structures are very conducive for teaching and learning. In classrooms (like laboratories), there are audio-visual facilities, charts and stickers that can aid easy understanding of lessons. All these make teaching and learning a lot easier.

Teaching Method

Almost all teachers are comfortable with a student-centered approach of problem-solving. Students are engaged class activity either as individuals or small groups. This encourages ingenuity on the part of the students. Class population is quite manageable for teachers to give individual attention to deserving students. This was quite common in the schools visited.

Interpersonal Relationships

Principal – Teacher relationship: In all schools, principals have highly commended teachers’ cooperation. They have no headache, as teachers recorded regular attendance to lessons. I noticed that these principals are more facilitators than evaluators. They allow teachers to innovate, make mistakes and learn without reprimand. I also observed that they do have regular contacts with teachers and students.

Teacher – Student relationships: In Iowa schools, this relationship is quite informal. They greet teachers in their first names, which is sometimes quite funny. Students seem to enjoy it. They told me that it’s easier this way in order to take their teacher into confidence. I noticed that it is open to abuse.

I did understand too that the exchange students are quite popular with teachers. During advisory classes, teachers took time to talk to students on various important issues. It is worth noting that students with learning disabilities are taught in regular schools with special attention given to them. In Nigeria, they are concentrated into special schools.

Host Families: The host families we encountered for teachers and students were very wonderful people. I enjoyed the legendary hospitality of Iowans. This has changed the perception of American life I had from reading novels and watching films. Here, they feed you a lot, take you out for fun and are ready to help you just anytime.

At the insistence of host families, I visited many farms, a music concert (where a song was dedicated to me), National Guard barracks, the Pioneer Research Centre, Childserve, the Science Museum and a Nevada girls’ soccer game. These have made lasting memories. There is so much to learn about life in America. I have also enjoyed goodwill of Iowan women in gifts (camera and clothes), which I treasure so much. These women are efficient home managers – impeccably neat homes. They are more outgoing than men, isn’t that cool?

Observations:

  • Iowa’s high schools have similar disciplinary problems ranging from truancy to unruly behavior. Remedy for these problems is the same, except punishment through beating, which is practiced in Nigeria.

  • Teenage pregnancies are higher in American high schools compared to Nigeria. The system here is so accommodating – students seem to have unlimited freedom.

  • I learned there is a dress code in Iowa high schools, which has never been enforced. Coming from the background of strict uniform standards in Nigeria, I was a bit surprised about the manner in which high school girls dress to attend class here.

  • There is also too much dependence on technology in teaching and learning in Iowa. It can crash anytime. It takes away students’ practical skills – like reading and technical drawing. Some teachers, too, have the tendency of overusing films to the detriment of lectures.

  • In Iowa, teachers do stay in one class and students change rooms between periods, which is quite good. In Nigeria, we go looking for them in their classes.

  • Individual high schools in Iowa administer examinations to their students while students in Nigeria are subjected to state, national and transnational examinations before they graduate. A more universal syllabus and standard test system should be adopted for Iowa, too.

  • Teachers in Iowa are never transferred, but must renew their license after two years. The opposite is the case in Nigeria. It is interesting to note that teachers here are more motivated for better output than Nigerian teachers whose pay is meager and irregular.

  • My intercultural dialogue between teachers and students had been fruitful. They asked me questions about climate, culture, politics, education and social life in Nigeria and even about my perception about America.

  • I must observe that high schools, like homes in Iowa, have high hygienic standards. Students faithfully made good use of trash bins strategically placed in school premises.

Conclusion/Recommendations

In the course of three weeks in Iowa, I have made friendships with teachers, students, families and many others in places I visited. I have learned many things in American high schools and at the Area Education Agency, which I will impute into the educational system in my state.
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It was quite amazing to visit the governor’s residence and tour the Iowa State Capitol without restriction. Indeed, governance is made so simple in America, and that’s how it should be.
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May I suggest that American high school kids be allowed to experience the rigors of getting an education in Nigeria. They will come back and appreciate what they have. Better still, if it is financially possible, Iowan teachers should also go for exchange programs in Africa for one academic year. The Iowa Department of Education should work towards standardizing examination for all high schools as it is in most countries today.
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God bless America.
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Anyam Adzever,

Nigeria

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Justina Adangai permalink
    November 2, 2010 9:27 PM

    wow its really amazing how people get so inspired by the program..it is indeed a life changing experience. Not everyone in the world could just think of setting such an organization to change the life of people.i am a living proof. This program gave me the hope and future i have once dreamt of and now because of the opportunity i got am able to come back and continue establishing my dreams…IRIS i know i did not accomplish much while in Nigeria but i have not forgotten the opportunity you gave me and i will make it up in hundred folds and probably when god makes me successful i will also contribute financially to the success of the program. Thank you very much.

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