20yrs old Nigerian, Ayodele Iyanu, graduated with a first class from Department of Chemical Engineering in Kwame Nkrumah University, Ghana, in the 2014/2015 academic session. He shared the experience of his days as an undergraduate with Punch’s Tunde Ajaja. It’s an interesting read:
How easy was it having First Class in the course?
In primary school, I had a very good performance, always top two in the class. In junior secondary school, my performance dropped a bit but later became better in senior classes, earning me an award on our graduation day. It’s all to the glory of God. By the grace of God, I had my West African Senior School Certificate Examination in one sitting but I wrote the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination twice.
Was it part of your aspirations as a child to be an engineer?
Yes, my dad is a civil engineer and he has always been my role model, so he made me love engineering. I remember those times that I would dress in his work protective clothing and move about the house as an engineer. As a child, I always dreamt of making the world a better place, so I grew to love the discipline with the little understanding I had then. When I got into secondary school, I realised I loved chemistry more than physics and technical drawing, and that made me switch from civil engineering to chemical engineering. If I wasn’t offered chemical engineering, I probably would have opted for computer engineering or petroleum engineering.
What is your simple definition of chemical engineering?
It is focused on developing economic ways of using materials and energy. We use chemistry and engineering to turn raw materials into usable finished products, such as medicine, petrochemicals and plastics for industries. We are also concerned with waste management and research.
Is the course as difficult as people make it look?
I think it has more to do with passion and determination. Yes, it is challenging but once the passion and determination are there, it makes it easier for us to go out of our comfort zone to put in the necessary effort needed to achieve success.
In spite of its wide application, are you disturbed by the unemployment challenge in Nigeria?
Personally I’ve taken it up as a challenge, instead of being discouraged by it, I’ve decided to do something about it. I believe more youths will also take up this challenge. Against all odds, we can solve the unemployment challenge in Nigeria
What informed your decision to travel to Ghana for your tertiary education?
I left for Ghana after my secondary education and I only went there for my first degree. I really wanted to study in Nigeria, University of Ibadan specifically, but after trying twice and to no avail, I decided to explore other options, including looking outside my immediate environment. After my second attempt at UI, I was told I might have to settle for food science, which wasn’t an option for me. However, I thank God for how it finally turned out. There were other Nigerians in my class as well and about seven of us graduated.
Comparatively, how easy was it gaining admission into a university in Ghana?
I think it is easier to gain admission into universities in Ghana. They don’t even have an equivalent of our own UTME here; all they use is the West African Senior School Certificate Examination and that is why they place more value on it. We were about 130 in 100L, out of which we had about 15 Nigerians, but out of the about 75 that graduated, we had about seven Nigerians.
What are the major differences between the education system in Ghana and Nigeria?
There are no major differences but one thing I realised is that education in Ghana is faster than education in Nigeria. For example, engineering is four years there while in Nigeria, it’s five years. Understandably, that is based on the curriculum. In Nigeria, students in most schools use a semester for industrial training, but in Ghana, it’s done during the summer breaks. Another factor is that in Ghana, there’s more dedication on the part of the lecturers to actually groom the students. Most lecturers in my school were operating an open door system, whereby you could easily meet any lecturer for any challenge you might have. One other important factor is that each lecturer has a Teaching Assistant who could be approached for any difficulty in the respective courses.
Is there any part of their education you think Nigeria should adopt to have improved system?
I think both lecturers and students should be more dedicated to education. That seems to be a major factor.
What are your aspirations in life?
To fulfill God’s plan for my life and to inspire so many others to greatness and I like to work in a place where I can do what I love.