This confidence in American educational institutions I held. It is just that recently I ran into a certain lady and her daughter. This duo has in no small measure confirmed the first story I got from one of my students concerning secondary school education in the US. He was born there in the US and the one way his parents felt he would not end up like his other siblings in jail in the US was to bring him here and pass him through our own educational arrangement with its inbuilt cultural standards. The boy settled down to study after he fought very hard with himself to adjust to the conditions here. According to him, there is a world between schools here and those in the US. In his first school, the teacher taught you first in the class and if in his estimation you were slow to comprehend, he asks to see you after class. If after class you were still unable to grasp the import of his lesson, he holds on to you after school and tries to see if he could still make some impact. I thought this selfless. Not so in the other school. There, there was nothing wrong in the teacher ‘getting down’ with the student. There is nothing too wrong with bringing your gun to school. There were occasions where the student and the teacher could settle down and share a drag and all other sundry stories that I thought incredible. According to him, this was the norm rather than the exception. It was while I was considering this that I ran into a certain lady first and her daughter afterwards and got a clearer picture.
She runs this little bookstore just across my street. Her types of books are the ones we read in the yesteryears and which you would look for in Nigeria as though you were looking for sugar in the Atlantic Ocean. My enthusiasm at seeing these books was there for her to see and we got talking proprietor-customer talk.Yes, she got the books from the US. Yes, she lives part-time in the US. Yes, there are a lot of these books in the US.But no, she would not advise me to go the US and stay. Perhaps I should just live there awhile and come back home and start a small-scale business like she is doing. I listened but deep down in my heart, I thought that this was another nun who nothing salutary to say about the convent she just deserted. Weeks later, I was back in the shop just to feel comfy in the company of those rare books and read the titles. She was not there but her daughter was a thirteen-year old lekpa (our lingo for tall and very slim). Like mother like daughter, we got talking the proprietor-customer talk. Yes, she was born and bred in the US. Yes, she attended some school there. Yes, she does not foneticalise because she lost her accent here. Yes, her mother was back in the States and she was holding brief. But no, she would not advise me to go live there and worse of all to raise kids there. No please, she will never attend secondary school in the US and that is why she is here in Nigeria in school. Maybe university there. The encounter was a lively one which is gist for another day but I should summarise her points. Nothing too different to the situation pointed out above. The kids have no ‘respect’. They are mostly full of themselves and cannot be disciplined. The cannot do housework and are trained in the Montessori code of learning where the kid is left to develop mostly in that area of his or her fancy or potential. Again, nothing too wrong if a teacher-student romance blossoms. What she’d seen here in naija, according to her is much more African and better off than the American and that is why she would rather conclude her secondary school education in Nigeria before giving it any serious thought if she would go back to the US for university.
And now, where does all of this lead?It is different strokes for different folk. I have put all of this together and I have come to the conclusion that it is a good and bad place for the good, the bad and the ugly. It has everything on ground to make you the best fool in the world if that is what you want or vice-versa. The paradox of it all is that despite all of this talk about the US being this or that kind of place mostly in pejorative terms, there is no end to the number of Nigerians who queue up at that embassy here in Lagos for visas.