One Nigerian woman making the country proud in the global space is Ms Ebibomo Obaro, Chief Executive Officer, Maple Education Canada Inc., a Canadian education and immigration consultancy firm established to offer services in securing speedy admission process, academic counselling and immigration visa application. Obaro recently scored another first in the education sector when she established a reputable academic institute in Nigeria. For close to two decades, she has used her firm to facilitate the placement of thousands of Nigerian students in the universities and colleges across the world. But recently, in order to cut costs and bridge needless gaps, she literally brought a Canadian academy to Nigeria. In this interview with MARY NNAH, she talks about her latest accomplishment and how it stands to benefit Nigerians
What informed the establishment of Maple Canadian College in Nigeria?
Maple Canadian College emerged in response to the growing global demand for Canadian education. The institute is a Grade 12 University Preparatory College, designed to bridge the gap between the Canadian High School curriculum and the Nigeria’s West African Examinations Council (WAEC) curriculum. The Grade 12 programme is not repetition of WAEC syllabus. It is rigorous and prepares Nigerians students adequately for university in Canada so that they are not overwhelmed, resulting in their not achieving their educational goals.
We are an offshoot of Maple Education Canada Inc, the foremost Canadian Education, an immigration consulting firm in Nigeria. We started by recruiting Nigerian students to go and study in Canada and we have done this for about 18 years. We have a history; we know what happen to our students. We discovered that a lot of students who go to study in Canada after they get their WAEC certificates struggle, not because they are not brilliant or that they are not smart but it is because there is gap in the curriculum.
If a student is coming from Nigeria, even after the WAEC certificate, and enters an English Grade 12 class, for a while he would be lost. So, that gap exists and it manifests on our student negatively. Some end up spending six years for a four years programme, some dropped out, some changed programmes. They spend lots of money and parents get frustrated. To make matters worse, some go into depression and some come back home. So, to address these issues, we thought why don’t we bring this programme here, so that parents would understand the need for their children to start with the Grade 12 programme to bridge the gap so that when they get to the universities in Canada, they would be comfortable and because they have gone through the programme, they would understand better.
Some of the problem that Nigerian students in Canadian schools encounter is not because they are not smart enough but because the WAEC curriculum and that of the Canadian High school is not the same. So, I said it was high time we brought what they call the pre-university programme, that is, the Canadian Grade 12 programme to Nigeria, to enable us prepare our students adequately to succeed in any Canadian university or any university in the world.
So, after almost two decades of facilitating the transition of African students into Canadian colleges and universities, and understanding their unique strengths and weaknesses in the global classroom, we have designed our school programme in partnership with Rosedale Academy, Toronto, Canada to guarantee the success of our target students.
Not all kids are emotionally matured to leave home at the age of 16 to study thousands of miles away from home in a different culture and educational system without the presence of their parents, friends or family members. So, this programme provides these children with steady emotional and relational capabilities to combat depression and help them excel in all areas.
In essence, the vision behind the establishment of Maple Canadian College is to become a model for innovative teaching across the world. We aim to achieve this by utilising various teaching formats such as the use of real-world examples, videos and multimedia, problem set, and interactive activities. Also courses are taught by highly skilled teachers with Canadian Teacher Training Certificate who are supervised by a Canadian principle.
Our mission is to provide Canadian education to highly-motivated students and set them on the best path to achieving their academic and professional goals in top-notch universities and colleges. Graduates of our Pathway Programme receive the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) which consistently ranks in the top five international academic high school programme and can be used to apply to universities in the UK, US, and others globally. We are not only going to teach academic subjects, we are going to bring other extracurricular activities that would help them know that being a Nigerian is not a bad thing. So, we want our students to be very proud of their heritage when they leave this country to go to Canada; to know what African history is and to hold their heads high and say I am a Nigerian. And to also know that they can always come back to Nigeria, which is a developing nation and that they can bring back to Nigeria all the things they learn in Canada – the experiences and expertise.
What is so unique about the Canadian grade 12 programme? What is the selling point, especially for parents and its value for students?
This is an opportunity for us to bring the Canadian programme to, particularly, Nigerians. This is not a programme that is easily accessible outside of Canada. So, to be able to bring it to Nigeria for students to be able to participate is absolutely thrilling. The Canadian Grade 12 class is last year of high school and that is the pre-university class. Now, the value for them is that the students are psychologically, physically and academically prepared for university and then they save money. If your child spends four years at the Canadian university and come out with bad grades, you would have probably spent like $120 dollars within those four years.
But if your child does grade 12 programme here before going, she is 99 per cent sure of coming out with good grade except if she is not serious. So, the guarantee is that when you scale through Grade 12, you can get admission easily in any Canadian university. But remember that admission into any Canadian university is based on academy excellence and grades, so if you don’t pass, you can’t’ get any admission. And what happens in this particular programme is that students are learning in a very different way than they do in the African programme. They are focusing on skill development; ability to do critical thinking and creative thinking, problem solving and so on. Students are also assessed very differently. So, the entire programme isn’t about getting a grade, definitely they have to get a grade but that is not the main focus, the main focus is on improving students learning; helping students to get better at whatever they chose to do.
Firstly, the college is primarily to eliminate the struggles many Nigerian students often face in securing admission and settling into schools in Canada.
MCC is a collage that promotes Canadian education and curriculum. While some other colleges teach British curriculum and/or Nigerian curriculum, we teach only Canadian curriculum. The reason is because most of our students already have their West African Examination Council (WAEC) Certificate based on Nigerian curriculum. So, as the students are seeking to go abroad, we do not need to integrate the Nigerian curriculum again into our school.
The exclusively Canadian curriculum offers several other benefits. The beauty of this curriculum is that when our students get their Ontario Secondary School Diploma or Canadian High School Diploma, they are able to study anywhere in the world. That is why our caption is: “Go anywhere in the world”.
More so, studying at the college and proceeding to Canada is financially less stressful for parent and other sponsors, although foreign education is never cheap. Canadian education is relatively more affordable compared to other countries.
A further benefit for students who study at the academy is that on graduation, MMC’s parent company, Maple Education Canada Inc. can also facilitate their admissions to foreign universities, especially in Canada. Maple Education Canada Inc. is affiliated to over 55 institutions in Canada, including high schools, colleges and universities. So, even before our students compete their first semester, we will help them apply for admission to universities in Canada or any countries of their choice.
Studying in MCC could also help students graduating from the school to get their visas to Canada more easily. I am a certified Canadian Immigration Consultant, which means that I am authorised to represent foreign nationals to get any kind of visa into Canada.
So, the VISA success rate for students going to Canada to study is over 90 per cent. The 10 per cent is based on the area of funds, like may be you look at the bank statement of the parents and you find that they cannot afford it. If it is not convincing enough that you can afford to send your child to study in Canada, they would not give the VISA because the Canadian government is not interested in your money, they are interested in the success of the students when they get there – academically, emotionally, physical and otherwise. They want students who are not only academically good but also students whose parents and sponsors are able to sponsor them through their university education.
What categories of students would the college admit?
We are looking at students presently in SS3 or very good students who are still in SS2 and even students who have already had their WAEC or NECO certificates. Or students between the ages of 15 and 18 who are not yet in the university but are looking to go to the university outside Nigeria, to prepare them for universities in Canada and any other parts of the world. We are eager to open our doors to the pioneer student, so, hopefully by September 2, 2019, we will start academy work at our campus in Lekki, which has boarding facilities, but ahead of that, we would be having an Open House in July where prospective parents and their students will be invited to come and tour our facilities and then our entrance exams will hold on July 26 at the school premises in Lekki, Lagos. The exam is just so that we know their Math and English skills. Like I said, it is very important for them to succeed in the university, so, we test them and if we find out that they are lacking, we then do some upgrading.
The programme itself is a very short. We are starting September 2, this year and finish June 30, next year. It is just 10months but it is rigorous and would cover all the gaps so that when the students step into a Canadian university, or a British university, they would feel at ease to study.
Why the choice of partnership with Rosedale Academy, Canada? What is the extent of value they are bringing on board to make this a success?
Bringing a Canadian programme to Nigeria is not what anybody can do. I can’t just set up this school and say, well, I am going to provide you with Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) certificate, a Canadian degree that is recognised by universities around the world for direct admission. The Canadian government is very interested in making sure that the credibility of the programme is maintained and you can’t just do it without having a partner in Canada, like Rosedale Academy. They are experts in delivering offshore programmes, so we had to partner them to bring the programme to Nigeria and for them to help us train our teachers in Nigeria. We believe that we should use teachers in Nigeria too because they are well trained; they just need to learn how to teach this programme because it is different from Nigeria’s West African Examinations Council (WAEC) curriculum. So, partnering Rosedale Academy, Canada means we have the credibility from the Ontario government in Canada. So, there is that connection, which if we were here all by ourselves, would not have existed.
The prospective guardians, parents and students are your target, what is the word of assurance you want to drop for them?
The assurance is that the programme has integrity and would be taught very well. We would make sure that the experience that our students have here, is exactly what they would have had in Canada in terms of the academics, so that when they get to Canada they would not feel that they have missed out of anything. So our assurance to students and parents is that it is money well spent. It is one thing to send your child to Canada and be boasting about it in Nigeria and it is another thing for your child to be academically prepared for Canadian education and even Canada as a whole. It is not easy for 15 year-old to venture thousands of miles away from home for the first time. It can be very tough. So, in order to help them mature physically and academically, the assurance is that this programme is the best of choice for them.
Nigeria today is particular about entrepreneurship. How are you reflecting this on your programmes?
That is where the extracurricular activities come in. Entrepreneurship programmes is taught in Canadian High Schools. It is a subject. So, it is good to start exposing children into entrepreneurship after high school.
I never thought I was going to be an entrepreneur today to be honest. In my mind I was thinking I would just work in an office till I’m retired but you know what happened? My company was downsizing in Canada and a lot of people were laid off. So, I felt it was high time I developed my own business before I was also laid off. And this idea of starting a company that would recruit students to Canada came to my mind. So it is very important we let people know the importance of being self-employed and that is one thing that I have taught my children. This is very important and that is why we take it into consideration in our programme.
Are there future plans to upgrade MCC to full fledge university?
It is possible to have a Canadian University in Nigeria. There is a Canadian university in Dubai, I visited it and when I was there, I was already thinking about having such in Nigeria. We all know the quality of Canadian education. But let’s take one day at a time