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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 20:00 GMT
School Day 24: About Nigeria-UK link-up
Composite image of Abuja and UK students

The BBC's Africa Have Your Say programme linked students at a school in Abuja with a school in London.

Click on the links below to read more about the schools that took part.

The Government Science Secondary School, Abuja, Nigeria

The Government Science Secondary School lies in New Karu, a sprawling village on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja. The school is surrounded by big lush trees and grassy fields that double up as football pitches.

Student and teacher in laboratory, Nigeria
Many students study science in the hope they will have a good career

Most of the school's 580 students are taught in one-storey yellow brick buildings that surround a bare playground.

Some children also receive their education in a classroom that is only half constructed. It has been like that for years, but the pupils don't let the dirt floor and the lack of proper doors and windows distract them from learning.

Still, many of the students think school in England would be very different.

One girl says: "Our school is nice, but not as nice as an English school. Over there they don't lack facilities and equipment."

Although the school receives financial help from the government, students still have to pay school fees. It's hard to find the money sometimes and quite a few parents struggle to keep their children in school.

Students and teachers are proud of their library and the laboratory where they conduct science experiments. There's not a school in the area that can match it.

Many students say the emphasis on traditional subjects like Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry is great because science is important if you want to get into a reputable profession.

Practical subjects like agricultural science and introductory technology are also popular.

The potential difficulty of finding a proper job is the main reason why many students would like to leave Nigeria after they finish their education.

UK Nigeria map

London is one destination they would happily consider. "If you are working in London you will make a lot of money and the government there really takes care of people," says one boy.

A girl sitting next to him agrees: "I'd like to live in London because it's well-organised. Even the poor are taken care of by the government, unlike here where the poor suffer a lot."

Not everyone would like a one-way ticket out of Nigeria.

When asked if he wanted to emigrate, a young student quotes a proverb in Pidgin English: "Who say im mama soup no sweet?"

This literally means: "Who doesn't love his mother's soup?"

To this boy at least, there is no place like home.

Shirley High School, Croydon, UK

Shirley High School lies in a leafy suburb near Croydon, south-west of London. The government-funded school currently caters for 956 students aged 11 to 16.

Schoolchildren in Croydon, UK
Pupils aged 11 to 16 attend the school

While the school grounds are in an affluent area, Shirley High's students come from a wide range of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, says assistant headteacher Jan Moreland.

Twelve-year-old Hilda, whose mother is Nigerian, likes the school's diversity: "We have a lot of different nationalities here so racism isn't a big problem.

"There are Chinese, Indian and African students at our school. I am happy here, but would love to go back to Nigeria to discover my roots."

Unlike most Nigerian schools, there are no school fees at Shirley High. The students have to buy their own uniforms and pay for some activities. Most parents are able to meet these payments.

Shirley High recently became a performing arts college. This means that in addition to subjects like English and Mathematics, the school also offers lessons in dance, drama and music.

Caroline, aged 15, says: "Here we have dance lessons and watch movies in our spare time. I'd love to find out if Nigerian students do the same things for fun. I think Nigeria is a poor country and I wonder what resources they have at school there."

Child playing drums
A performing arts facility was recently added to the campus

Most classrooms at Shirley High are located in two brick buildings. A brand new performing arts facility has just been added to the campus.

It houses a dance studio and a music rehearsal space that can be transformed into a big stage. Ms Moreland says she hopes that local community groups will also use it to put on performances.

There are plenty of extra-curricular activities at Shirley High, including a radio project, various sports clubs and a student team that organises charity events. This year two of the students won a Princess Diana Award for organising a fund raising event for Afrikids, an organisation helping children in Ghana.

Twelve-year-old Emmanuela was one of the many who shared the charity team's enthusiasm.

"I loved taking part in the Afrikids fund raising event," Emmanuela says. "My parents are from Ghana and I'm interested in learning more about other countries."

There are about 12 Nigerian students at Shirley High School.

Fifteen-year old Dean was four years old when he left Nigeria.

He says: "Many of my English friends talk about Nigeria as a poor country, but I explain to them that it's also a fun and enjoyable place."

School life compared by Nigerian and UK students


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