November 11, 2019, by International students

My Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Journey

By Mary from Nigeria who recently completed our MA Education course, funded by a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship

I graduated from the University of Jos, Nigeria, as a teacher in 2014.  I spent the following four years teaching in different roles, first as lecturer at a Federal College of Education under the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) and then in schools as a teacher in rural areas where there is a real shortage of qualified teachers.  Within this period, my experience as a teacher helped me to identify problems that teachers and students were facing in school, so I started looking at ways to curb these problems.

The first challenge I identified was financial as parents could not afford all the costs associated with sending their children to school. In response to this I started a foundation that prioritises the provision of scholarships to less privileged children from primary to secondary school level. Six (6) students have benefited from this scheme so far. This led me to start working as a volunteer with Slum2School Africa: a non-governmental organisation that is interested in helping less privileged children to have access to quality education through the provision of scholarships. In September 2018, 510 children from the slum areas were sponsored to primary and secondary schools across Nigeria. I am currently volunteering with Slum2School as a regional coordinator and an international grant officer.

More so, I participated in the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) West Africa, a United States government initiative which invests in the next generation of African leaders, as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance and enhance peace and security across Africa. Under this initiative, I carried out a sustainable community development project in a rural area, which was approved and supervised by the YALI coordinators. I also participated in African Change Makers fellowship by nomination.

The more I wanted to dedicate myself to increasing access to and achieving quality education in Nigeria, I realised that quality education cannot be achieved without quality teachers, as teachers are the major stake holders in education. I identified problems within this context, but then, I faced a challenge, which was inadequate leadership and professional development, so I opted to study a master’s degree in education. It has always been my dream to study in the United Kingdom, because I believe that studying here would expose me to the UK’s success story in education and equip me with the right knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to achieve sustainable development in my country. Since I was not financially capable of studying in the UK, I decided to apply for Commonwealth Shared Scholarship in 2018, and I chose to study at the University of Nottingham. I was particularly interested in the leadership training that comes with this scholarship. The fact that the University of Nottingham has about 200 years of experience in the field of education,  informed my choice to study with them, because I was looking out for excellence.

Being nominated by the University of Nottingham for the prestigious Commonwealth Shared Scholarship is a great honour and a dream come true. I feel really encouraged and fulfilled knowing that, both the University of Nottingham and the Commonwealth commission in the UK believe in my vision and aspirations for my country, Nigeria, and they are committed to nurturing them.

My experience as an MA Education student at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, has been life-changing and developmental in nature. During the Autumn term, I studied courses on changing classrooms with emphasis on policy research and practice, and educational leadership. I am currently studying courses on leading learning and practice-based inquiry. The system is student centred and interactive, as I always can share my experiences and thoughts and learn from others. I am studying with about 20 colleagues from different parts of the world and it has been a wonderful experience so far, I am learning different cultures and my network is expanding. MA Education is based on coursework research and this has developed my research competence. My lecturers are very supportive, friendly and approachable, based on my experience, the University of Nottingham has the best lecturers with great interpersonal skills, professional experiences and knowledge.

I am happy to share that I’ve had a positive experience at the University of Nottingham.  Aside from the academic strengths already mentioned, it has great study facilities within a serene and natural environment.  It feels like home away from home because students come from different parts of the world and from your country also. The University is recognised all over the world, known for research excellence and has won several awards. Choose the University of Nottingham for your studies and achieve your dreams.

As a Commonwealth Scholar I’m benefiting from a platform for our voices to be heard and for our ideas to travel round the world as you put them to action.  Aside from my classmates, I’ve also expanded my network by meeting the other Commonwealth scholars currently studying in the UK.  The common denominator I see is not having an excellent educational background, but rather a community of people who have demonstrated their passion for selfless service and proffered solutions to problems within their communities through: volunteerism, community development projects, involvements in leadership training and workshops, social entrepreneurship or humanitarianism, to mention among others. The world is interested in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and since the development of a nation and the world at large needs collective efforts and ideas from individuals like you and me.

If you also need funding to support your studies then I encourage you to apply for the next round of the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship.  Further information can be found on the Scholarship website and it is suitable for students who are committed to solving a problem in your country that is related to your proposed course of study.  If you are applying, I advise you to embrace originality in all your write-ups but avoid ambiguity.  Make sure you communicate clearly why you should be chosen!

Hope to welcome you to the University of Nottingham soon.

Applications for the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship are now open. The closing date is 18th December 2019 at 4pm UK time.

Visit our website to find out more


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