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Nigeria rejects Ukraine online degrees: ‘It’s not fair’

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The message from Nigeria’s medical council could not have been more cruel for student Moses Damilola Fehintola.

After being trapped by war in Ukraine earlier this year, it was a relief when he escaped and was able to continue his medicine degree online.

But one day a WhatsApp message in capital letters pinged on his phone, telling him his distance-learning qualifications would not be recognised after all.

The language was cold and formal.

“We wish to inform the General Public that Medical and Dental Degree Certificates issued by Medical Schools from Ukraine from 2022 will NOT be honoured by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria until when normal academic activities resume.”

Fehintola Moses Damilola with fellow students

Fehintola Moses Damilola, seen here on right with fellow students, had been in Ukraine since he was 17

Mr Fehintola gasped as his vision blurred for a moment. “Jesus,” he muttered in exasperation.

“What’s going on?” his mother asked, glancing across as they drove to a local market in Oyo state. Mr Fehintola mumbled a few words and tried to play it down.

“The news hit me really hard… So many thoughts flooded my mind,” he recalls. “I was actually looking forward to graduating from Ukraine irrespective of whatever happened.”

He was in his sixth and final year of study at Ukraine’s Sumy State University and was months away from finishing, when the city came under siege by invading Russian troops.

Refugees from many different countries - from Africa, Middle East and India - mostly students of Ukrainian universities are seen at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, in eastern Poland on February 27, 2022

Many Africans battled to cross the border into Poland after the outbreak of war in Ukraine

The 22-year-old was left trapped for several weeks before he made it home – he was one of more than 1,000 Nigerians, mostly students, to return from Ukraine.

Despite the raging fighting, Sumy State University and other Ukrainian institutions managed to continue to provide online courses and so Mr Fehintola assumed he would be able to achieve his dream of working as a doctor after all.

However, his plans have now been left in ruins.

“I’m in Nigeria now trying to do clinical practice, because l want to meet the requirements to be able to practise as a doctor in Nigeria,” Mr Fehintola told the BBC.

“First l wrote to my own state Ministry of Health requesting to be posted to a hospital, but on getting to the hospital, the medical director there said: ‘Oh, you are from Ukraine, was it not the place that the certificates were cancelled by the MDCN?”‘

“I was so shocked – I just had to say: ‘Yes’ because it’s the truth. From then on, there was that look, and l know there was going to be a stigma – that attitude of: ‘This guy is from Ukraine, his certificate is not valid.'”

The MDCN has not responded to the BBC’s request for comment.

Describing the policy as discriminatory, Mr Fehintola said he has thought over the announcement and has chosen to be motivated rather than see it as a drawback.

“l will say this to Nigeria: if that’s what Nigeria wants, so be it. I will look for other countries to practise and that will be Nigeria’s loss.”

Grace Ladi Musa, who was five years into a medical degree at Kyiv Medical University when the war broke out, agrees.

“It’s just not fair,” she says.

The 23-year-old tells the BBC the plans she had for her life have been turned upside-down – first by the war, then by the revelation that her studies would be considered invalid.

“I hope the Nigerian ministry of education would have a rethink.”

Another medical student has even stronger words for Nigeria’s authorities.

“Our own country is turning us away,” says Emmanuella Oiza, a 17 year old in her second year of medical studies at Sumy State University.

“People are trying to get themselves better educated to come back home and make the country better, but you are sending them away.”

The only solution is to mobilise, says 24-year-old veterinary student Samuel Otunla.

He plans to bring together Nigerian returnee students and petition the government to reverse the decision, and accuses it of failing to manage education to the extent that studying abroad is the only option for those who can afford it.

“We want to serve our fatherland. We want to help save lives in our community. That’s what pushed us into becoming doctors””, Source: Moses Damilola Fehintola, Source description: Medical student, Image:

The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria has advised students who are currently studying medicine or dentistry in Ukrainian medical schools to seek transfers to accredited institutions in other countries.

It states that online medical training done in any part of the world falls short of accepted standards, and will not honour any medical degree certificates issued at the end of any online medical training.

“We want to serve our fatherland,” says Mr Fehintola. “We want to help save lives in our own community, that’s what pushed us into becoming doctors in the first place.

He also pays tribute to Ukraine.

“A country that is able to forge ahead in a war period to make sure their students still get the necessary requirements for studies, they are really the hero of this situation. Trying to rubbish their certificate I think is a slap to the Ukrainian government.”

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Africa

How thousands of freed Black Americans were relocated to West Africa

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In the 1800s, the American Colonization Society relocated thousands of freed Black Americans to West Africa. It led to the creation of Liberia.

  • The American Colonization Society’s mission was to relocate freed Black Americans to Africa.
  • Starting in 1820, thousands of Black emigrants were shipped to what would become Liberia.
  • The society’s segregationist ideology has a lasting impact on America and Liberia.

On December 21, 1816, a group of fifty white elites gathered in a Washington, D.C. hotel to discuss the future of freed Black Americans.

Following the American Revolution, the number of freed Black Americans had grown from 60,000 in 1790 to 300,000 by 1830. The American Colonization Society emerged as the solution, with the mission of shipping Black people to a colony in Africa.

African Americans depart for Liberia, 1896.

African Americans depart for Liberia, 1896. The American Colonization Society sent its last emigrants to Liberia in 1904.Digital Collections, The New York Public Library

The organization was the brainchild of the Reverend Robert Finley, a Presbyterian minister from New Jersey. The ACS’ early supporters included some of the nation’s most powerful and influential men, including Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Francis Scott Key, as well as slave-owning US presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison.

“Can there be a nobler cause than that which, while it proposes to rid our country of a useless and pernicious, if not a dangerous portion of our population, contemplates the spreading of the arts of civilized life?” Clay said in his opening address.

Membership certificate of Rev. Samuel Rose Ely, dated March 1840. The Society’s president Henry Clay’s signature is visible at the bottom right.Library of Virginia

Colonization, the state-sponsored emigration and resettlement of freed Black Americans outside America, was widely supported in the US for religious, economic, and social reasons. Even after its dissolution in 1964, the ACS has left a lasting legacy of segregationist sentiment in both America and abroad, according to historians.

“The establishment of the American Colonization Society was a watershed moment in American history,” Eric Burin, a history professor at the University of North Dakota, said. “What you have is a powerful white organization propounding a vision of America as a white person’s country, and African Americans responding with a resounding rebuttal that it’s their country, too.”

A ‘miserable mockery’

The ACS attracted a diverse crowd of white individuals, including slaveholders who saw colonization as a way to remove freed Blacks, whom they feared would cause chaos by helping their slaves escape or rebel.

Many white Americans also believed that African Americans were inferior, and should be relocated to a place where they could live in peace away from the shackles of slavery. Abraham Lincoln held this belief, which led him to support a plan to relocate 5,000 Black Americans to the Caribbean in the 1860s.

The ACS also had a religious mission of Christianizing Africa to “civilize” the continent, according to historian Marc Leepson.

The initial reactions of the Black American community and abolitionists were nuanced. Some activists, like James Fortein, immediately rejected the ACS, writing in 1817 that “we have no wish to separate from our present homes for any purpose whatever”.

But some other Black abolitionists were cautiously interested in the notion of an emigration program. Martin Delany, who was dismissed from Harvard Medical School after white students petitioned against the inclusion of Black students, claimed that even abolitionists would never accept Black Americans as equals, and so the solution lay in the emigration of all Black Americans.

“We are a nation within a nation,” Delany wrote. “We must go from among our oppressors.”

But even Delany ultimately condemned the ACS’s hallmark plan to send Black Americans to Liberia, decrying it as a “miserable mockery” of an independent republic.

It led to the creation of Liberia

As the ACS grew, it sought to create a colony in West Africa. On February 6, 1820, 86 freed Black Americans set sail to the continent.

Map of Liberia, 1850.

An 1850 map of Liberia. Pencil annotations were made to change the report to “by the American Colonization Society,” and to add place names.American Colonization Society/Library of Congress

The initial expedition — and the expeditions that followed — proved to be disastrous as disease and famine struck. Of the more than 4,500 emigrants who arrived in Liberia between 1820 and 1843, only 40% were alive by 1843.

But the ACS, backed by funding from state and federal governments, continued to send more freed Blacks. In 1821, the society purchased Cape Mesurado from the indigenous people — by threatening the use of force, according to some accounts.

The land surrounding Cape Montserrado would later be known as Liberia, “the free land.” Its capital was renamed Monrovia in honor of James Monroe, an ardent supporter of the ACS.

The settlers developed an Americo-Liberian society that was strongly influenced by their roots in the American South, according to Burin. Americo-Liberians wielded vast socioeconomic and political power over the indigenous people — which planted the seeds for the Liberian Civil War of 1989.

“The Americo-Liberians realized they could essentially exploit the indigenous people for labor,” Burin told Insider. But it was a way for indigenous people to gain access to resources and education as well.

A lasting legacy of segregationist sentiment

Though the ACS eventually dissolved in 1964 after continuous opposition from abolitionists and a lack of interest by free Black Americans, historians said it shaped — and continues to shape — the country’s discussions of race.

“One of the ACS’ lasting legacies was the underlying ideology that drove the colonization movement forward: that Black people really aren’t Americans, at least not in the way that white people are,” Burin said.

The sentiment manifested itself in policies like Jim Crow-era segregation, and still has a grip on some Americans to this day.

A photo of children in Liberia, taken during an ACS mission trip in 1900.American Colonization Society Collection/Library of Congress via Getty Images

The second legacy of the ACS is Liberia itself. In 1847, Liberians declared the country an independent nation, becoming the second Black republic in the Atlantic after Haiti.

“The ACS founded a country that has had a distinctive influence over debates of freedom, slavery, and race today,” Burin said.

♦ Culled from the Insider

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Education

Judge Rules That School’s Slavery Punishment Assignment Didn’t Violate Civil Rights

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A federal judge has ruled in favor of the Sun Prairie School District regarding a lawsuit filed by two Black parents. Their children’s middle school, located in Wisconsin, handed out an assignment that asked students how they would punish a slave in ancient Mesopotamia and they believed it was harmful and inappropriate.

Dazrrea Ervins and Priscilla Jones also said the Black History Month assignment in February 2021 violated their civil rights and their children’s (George Brockman and Zavion Ervins). After an internal investigation, it was discovered that three teachers devised the assignment themselves as the question was not included in the school district’s curriculum on ancient Mesopotamia.

The question appeared on a sixth-grade homework question at Patrick Marsh Middle School and was given to students on the first day of Black History Month.

“A slave stands before you. This slave has disrespected his master by telling him, ‘You are not my master!’ How will you punish this slave?’” the question read. The assignment said the answer was: “According to Hammurabi’s Code: put to death.” It quickly led to led to online outrage.

The teachers were placed on administrative leave and ultimately resigned. In addition, the lawsuit also accused the school district of discriminating against Brockman for his learning disability as well as failing to protect him from racist bullying.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson, who has jurisdiction over Wisconsin’s Western District, stated the parents failed to prove that any civil rights were violated by the assignment.

Peterson also said that the parents didn’t prove that racism or the district’s lack of action had any impact on Brockman’s education.

“A reasonable jury certainly could find that its content and timing were offensive, insensitive and justifiably upset students and their families,” Peterson stated. “But a hostile environment claim requires much more than a single upsetting episode.”

Though a decision has been made in federal court, complaints that the district violated state law will be reviewed by Dane County Circuit Court.

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Education

OMG: 13-Year-Old Black Girl Accepted Into Medical School

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At 13 years old, Alena Analeigh Wicker has accomplished more academically than many adults. According to 12 News, the child prodigy is currently enrolled in undergraduate programs at both Arizona State University and Oakwood University, an HBCU in Huntsville, Ala. However, the young scholar revealed she has been accepted into medical school.

“Today I’m just grateful. I graduated High school LAST YEAR at 12 years old and here I am one year later I’ve been accepted into Med School at 13,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a screenshot of her official acceptance letter.

Her caption continued, “I’m a junior in college. Statistics would have said I never would have made it. A little black girl adopted from Fontana California. I’ve worked so hard to reach my goals and live my dreams.Mama I made it. I couldn’t have done it without you. You gave me every opportunity possible to be successful.”

The news outlet reported Wicker has shifted her career goals from engineering—with dreams of working for NASA—to medicine after being inspired during a trip abroad in Jordan.

“It actually took one class in engineering, for me to say this is kind of not where I wanted to go,” she explained to the outlet. “I think viral immunology really came from my passion for volunteering and going out there engaging with the world.”

“What I want from healthcare is to really show these underrepresented communities that we can help that we can find cures for these viruses.”

Wicker continued, “What I want from healthcare is to really show these underrepresented communities that we can help that we can find cures for these viruses.”

As she continues her academic feats, Alena Analeigh Wicker is set to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham Heersink School of Medicine and is on track to be finished by the age of 18 years old. She is inspired by her foundation, The Brown Stem Girl, which she created to provide an outlet for girls of color in stem through engagement, empowerment, and education.

“I’ve always thought, Why can’t girls of color do STEM and pursue jobs in STEM like others? I’ve always believed that girls of color can do anything in STEM that they put their minds to, so I created the Brown STEM Girl to give STEM opportunities to girls of color,” she told EBONY when recognized as one of the outlets 2022 HBCU STEM Queens.

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