The British Deputy High Commissioner, Laure Beaufils spoke to Debo Oladimeji on the benefits of Chevening programme to Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK) during an award presentation ceremony and reception in honour of the 2017/18 Chevening Scholarship Nigerian recipients in Lagos.
What are your impressions about the Chevening programme?
I think the programme is an outstanding opportunity. It is really a rare opportunity to support the most talented young people of Nigeria who want to go and spend a year in any university of their choice in the UK and to do a Master’s degree programme of their choice. Usually it is meant for people who have outstanding intellectual and leadership ability. For them, it is a unique opportunity. For the British government, it is a unique opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the people of Nigeria and the people of the UK and to demonstrate our continued friendship and to invest in the future of Nigeria by investing in its young people and in its talents.
Are you satisfied with the impacts of the programme in Nigeria?
For me, the best thing about Nigeria is the Nigerians. I have a strong impression on the people that I have met. By their commitment, resilience, their focus, they are amazing people and I think the Chevening scholars we had tonight are the best of that. They represent the future of Nigeria.
What is the solution to the temptation for some of them to want to stay back in the UK after their programme?
We have tested their motivations. I think that all of these young people are committed to returning and contribute to the development of their country. Their genuinely proud to be Nigerians, identifying to come back and to contribute their quotas in building their country, making it the best that it can be.
What does it take to be a Chevening Scholar?
We are looking for people with strong academic records. We are looking for people with proven leadership skills. People who are committed to invest in themselves and their country.
What is your take on the standard of education in Nigeria?
I think we have an amazing good educational centres in Nigeria. And some incredibly successful academics in Nigeria have gone to very good schools. Equally, on the average the educational system is not as strong as it should be. It deserves further investment if you look at it across the board. As in many areas in Nigeria, we have some very credibly strong performance and in some areas it is more of inequality.