‘How to get foreign admission, visa’
Mrs. Margaret Jibodu (RCIC, M.Sc) is an immigration lawyer who is the representative, University of Alberta in Canada. In this interview with PAULA ESEGHENE, she speaks on pitfalls to avoid in the Canadian visa application process and other issues.
Please who are you and what do you do?
I am Margaret Jibodu. Sometime people call me Meg or magga. I am an education consultant and an immigration practitioner or worker. I use education for immigration matters. It is important for us that we get the exposure that is critical to our national development and goal; so that is what I do, as an educationalist and as an immigration consultant.
What can you say about Nigerian education?
I really believe in the Nigerian educational system and I can say that government over the years has tried to do some things but I would say that education has fallen behind what the British gave us. Education should lead to development, instead out going from office to office looking for job; to future enterprises, that is, people that on their own, can make to things happen. You know, we have been too much of a theory-based educational system over the years. We have brilliant minds, we read books, we have heard about brilliant things that people have done with brilliant ideas and ideals but we need to be able to convert our brilliance to production, development, to what will make us self-sufficient. This is what I would say is the difference between Nigerian education and what is happening now in the world because now the physical or practical aspect of education is being removed for theories.
We need a lot of retrending, the other aspect or what I do with education to give international exposure to young people. Nigeria is a country with a lot of young people and when you talk about young people, you are talking about men and women endowed by God and if well directed, their endowement can create high level of development and productivity for this country. So that is why international education is critical to our future development as a nation.
Talking about the training, can you throw more light on that?
You see for example, countries like Canada and Switzerland actually encourage Nigerians to school there. They have what they call colleges, not because they don’t give university degrees. They actually give degrees but their education is tending towards what we call applied education. So when our children have degrees there, they are called applied degrees. For example, you are a graduate of computer science, but how can you apply that which you have read to create your own software or software that an organization can run on and you will be paid for it.
Again, for example if you read public relations I encourage you to pick up other certificates in tourism and hotel management so you will be able to bring together public relations in management in a hotel setting or in a tourism centre; so you are not just a public relations person looking for job in an office where you see people carrying files up and down but you can actually bring to bear all the knowledge, all the theories that you have learnt as a PR practisional to the market place. That is why I like to call myself an apostle in the market place because in life, if you are not really making things happen in people’s lives you are not as productive as you really should have been.
What does it take to study in these places? It depends at what level you want to study. If you are probably in the secondary school which I believe when you are younger you can easily be affected or moulded. What I do is that I look for suitable schools for different people, it all depends on what you want to study. If they are young I look at their secondary schools. If JSS3, we can get them do SS1 to the university level abroad, any country of their choice, because presently we work with Canada, USA, Switzerland and colleges in the Carribean Islands that give students the opportunity to actually get the exposure and the training that they need in their specific areas and sometime after graduation, they have the opportunity to work and after working for some years, some of them have the opportunity to apply to become residents of these countries, and being a citizen of any of these countries does not mean you are not a Nigerian; you can come home at anytime to do whatever you want and you can also collaborate with Nigerians in different fields. Some of them come home and are technical partners or for contracts, in different organizations and they have contributed. Some of them have decided to pay back from the exposure they have and from the training, they have gotten to develop country
For the situation whereby you are already a graduate if you studied engineering, art or humanities, even for example those who study chemistry and I take them out of the country, they take training in food processing, that is what we call applied degree, applying what they have read, and they learn the use of biochemistry, how to actually process food with quality because you see in Nigeria, most of the processing companies, we have are foreign and you know they are using our products. You have a lot of organizations in Nigeria which actually export our raw products for processing and bring them back and sell at exorbitant prices. Some of them are not even good enough for consumption. So there is a future for us as a nation and the need to give ourselves the opportunity for international education to actually boost our own production.
For the student who applied online and admission was given to them, can you assist them in getting visa?
There are two ways to this. I accept when students already have the admission and they come, especially for a country like Canada because I am a Canadian immigration consultant. So when it comes to visa processing for schools in Canada, I am one of the first you should think about. My business in the area is Crown immigration services; what we mean by that name is that we your own effort with our success. The only concern I have is people can get admission into the wrong institution that is not really applicable to their needs. Canada will most likely not give visa for courses that they think are not relevant but institution can give you admission for whatever you have applied for. I see that happen most of the time.
Sometime some people will apply online for visa and then get refused and they come to us and say I want you to reapply for visa for me. What we have discovered is that some of them have five or six years ban, some two years, because a lot of people who are parading themselves as agents and they are not immigration consultants so they don’t have all the facts. So when they apply for you, just because you have paid them a token they complicate things in different ways because for visa application there are processes. So if you get yourself involved in that kind of situation and you have a bar on you without first of all finding out but go ahead to reapply you will be refused again. That is why we rather be involved from the start to finish because some come with their admission, we will look at it and we know it is not going to work; so we advise them and say we are going to change your school and reapply for you.
Talking about sending children from secondary school there and some parents over there are sending back their children for the secondary school education. What is your take on this?
I just said those are opportunities open to people. I am also at present encouraging such students to do the grade A level here in Nigeria. For parents who decide to keep their children for secondary school here instead of moving them directly to university, which we can do, we advise to do A level here. We call our A level here America Bridge Academy. We encourage parents to let their children stay one year here to do the bridge program; we call it university preparatory courses. It is a one year program to actually introduce you to the system abroad.
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