Comparative and International Education

Comparing United States and Nigeria

History

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The United States of America is a federal constitutional nation which is comprised of fifty states and a federal district - Comparative and International Education introduction. It is famously known in respect to several names such as, the U.S, the America and the U.S.A.The republic is located mostly in Northern America with its forty eight contigious states. It has a capital city which is famously known as Washington D.C which lies between the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. The country boarders Mexico to the south and to the north it boarders Canada. The republic was founded by the thirteen colonies of Great Britain which are located along the Atlantic seaboard. In the year 1776, the colonies issued the Declaration of Independence which   was meant to proclaim their independence from Great Britain leading to the formation of a cooperative union (Andrea, 2005, p.34).

The rebellious states were able to defeat Great Britain in the American revolutionary war and during the first successful colonial   war of independence. A certain federal convention arose that adapted the current U.S constitution in the year 1787. The convention was ratified the following year   making the states part of a single republican with strong central government. A bill of rights  which comprised of ten constitutional amendments containing many fundamental rights and freedoms was ratified in the year 1791. At the onset of the 19th century, United States  acquired land from the united kingdom,mexico,Russia,france, Spain, and the republic of Texas. Disputes arouse between the industrial north and the Agrarian South over issues regarding states rights and the expansion of institutionalized slavery. These disputes provoked the American civil war which occurred in 1860s.The northern victory prevented the permanent split of the country and this led to the end of legal slavery in United States. During the World War 1 and the Spanish – American, the nation confirmed its status as a military power (Andrea, 2005, p.39).

In the year 1945, America sprouts out as a winner of the World War II and as the first nation to own nuclear weapons, the founding member of NATO and a   permanent member of United Nations Security Council. The end of the cold war saw the United States as a sole superpower. Today, the country   accounts for approximately 50% of the global military spending and it is the leading in economic, political, and cultural forces in the globe.

Nigeria, on the other hand was officially named as the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is still  a federal constitutional state  which is comprised of thirty six states .It  also has   one sole federal  capital territory and the capital city is famously known  as Abuja. Nigeria is located in the west of Africa and it shares its boundaries with Cameroon and Chad to the East, and Niger to the North. Nigeria’s coastal line lays along the Gulf of Guinea and some part of it along the Atlantic Ocean in the south. The inhabitants of Nigeria have a great and extensive history and archaeological evidence which explains that human habitation of these area dates back to 9000BC.,The original homeland of the Bantu migrants is believed to be the Benue- Cross river, and they later spread across most of central and southern Africa, in different waves in the first millennium BC and the second Millennium AD (Toyla, 1999, p.21).

Nigeria is one among the popular countries in Africa and the eight most popular in the world because of its dense population which lies over 140 million. It is a great regional power .It is a member of the Common Wealth of Nations and the economy of Nigeria is one among the most growing economies in the world with its international monetary fund ranging from 9% to 8.3% in the last two years (Toyla, 1999, p.33).

Government (politics and economics)

The United States is one among the oldest surviving federations of the world. It is a constitutional state in which the majority rule is tempered by minority rights which are protected by law. U.S is a fundamentally structured representative form of democracy although majority of its residents residing in the territories are not allowed to vote for federal officials. The  United states  government is regulated  by a system of checks and balances  which are defined by the U.S constitution which  provide  the country ‘s  supreme legal document  and  social contracts for  American population (Rubin, 1997, p.46). In the American federal system, residents are basically subjects to the three levels of governance which are mainly, the local government, the states and finally the federal. The duties of the local government are usually split between the country and the municipal governments. In all cases executive and legislative officials are elected by a popularity of vote by majority of citizens in the districts. Their governance does not allow proportionate representation at the federal level and it is even rare in the lower levels .Federal, states, judicial and cabinet officials are normally nominated by an executive branch and later approved by the legislature although in most cases some state judges and officials are elected by popular votes (Cohen, 2000, p.11).

The federal government is comprised of three branches which are: the legislative, the executive and the judicial. At the legislative the bicameral congress is composed of the senate and the House of Representatives which make the federal laws, approves treaties and declares war. It has the powers of purse and the powers of impeachment which it can apply to remove sitting members of the government. In the executive the president in the commander in chief of the military and he has the responsibilities to veto legislative bills before they become laws (Rubin, 1997, p.51). He also has the powers to appoint the cabinet and other officers who can administer and enforce federal laws and policies. Judicial is comprised of the Supreme Court and the federal courts whereby the judges are appointed by the president with senate approvals which have the powers to interpret laws which are deemed unconstitutional. The house of representative is made-up of 435 members with each representing congressional districts for a term of only two years.

The house seats are usually apportioned among the states by population every year. The senate is comprised of 100 members with   each specific state having two senators who are elected at large for a term of six years. The president usually serves two terms with each lasting for a period of four years and he may not be elected back to the office more than two times. The president is elected indirectly by an Electoral College system in which the determining votes are usually apportioned by the state. The Supreme Court is head by a chief justice in the United States and it has nine members. Laws and procedures in both state and federal governments are normally subjects to review and laws ruled in violation of constitution are usually avoided (Cohen, 2000, p.17). United States operate under two party systems virtually all along its history. For every elective office in all levels, the state administers primary elections in order to choose the major party nominees for the subsequent general elections. After the general elections in 1856 the major political parties have been the Democratic Party and the Republican Party   which were founded in the year 1824 and 1854 respectively. In the American political culture the Republican Party is always termed as the center right or rather the conservative while the Democratic Party is considered as the center left or the liberal. The west east and the northwest coast are the greatest lake states and they are relatively liberal. The red states of the south, the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains are relatively conservative. The plurality of American is identified as democratic and more Americans are considered conservatives than liberal. The republican George Bush is today the 43rd U.S president.

In close comparison to U.S, Nigeria is also a federal state that was modeled after the United States, with executive powers being excised by the president and with overtones of a west minister model in the composition and management. The present president of Nigeria is Umaru Musa Yaradua   who was elected in the year 2007.The president serves as the chief of the state and head of the government and is usually elected by the popular vote for a maximum of two terms .The president is constantly checked by a senate and a house of representatives who combine to form a bicameral body known as the national assembly. The senate is made up of 109 seats with three members from each state and one from the capital city Abuja. Members of the national assembly are elected by a popular vote for a period of four years. The house is comprised of 360 seats and the number of seats per state is normally determined by the country’s population (Ezera, 1996, p.13).

Religion and prebendalism have played a major role in Nigerian’s politics before independence and after independence in 1960.The kin- selective altruisms has maneuvered its way into Nigeria’s politics and this has spurred various attempts by realists to put their focus on federal powers to particular regions of interest .Nationalism has also   spurred active secessionist movements such as MASSOB and others nationalist movements such as Oodua Peoples Congress, Movement for Emancipation in the Nigeria delta and the civil war. The three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria have maintained the historical prominence in Nigeria politics. Stiff competition among these three tribes has fuelled corruption and graft. Due to the above conflicts Nigeria’s present political parties are pan –national and irreligious in character. The ruling political parties at present include the Peoples’ Democratic Party of Nigeria which maintains utmost 223 seats in the house and 76 others in the senate. It is led by the current president  Umaru Musa and the opposition leadership is headed by the All Nigerian  People’s Party Under Muhammadu  Buhari.Like in all African states  prebendalism and exessisive corruption constitute the main challenges Nigeria is facing at present, vote rigging and other means of coercion that  are practiced by all major political parties (Ezera, 1996, p.63).

Education

Public education in United States is ran by the state and the local governments and regulated by the United States department of education with restrictions on federal grants. The state recommends that children should attend school as from the age of six years until they turn eighteen years of age at grade twelve. Some states allow their learners’t to leave school at sixteen or seventeen years .75% of children are usually enrolled in parochial or private schools. Only 2% of the children in U.S are home schooled. There are many competitive private and public institutions for higher learning as well as equal local community colleges with open admission policies (Berger, 1997, p.18).

Special education in United States is compulsory. It was made compulsory when the state passed the bill for Education for all persons with disability in the year 1975.It was later modified to offer provisions for the protection of persons with disabilities in U.S. Special education and special policies together bring about diverse disciplines that require an integration of variety of resources. Provisions of education to a large extend are governed by the state and the federal laws expressed in statutes and implementing regulations. These statutes are applied at the local level by local school districts under direct supervision of their state governments (Robert, 1999, p.24).

On the other hand the government of Nigeria provides free supported education but with attendance not compulsory at any level. Certain groups like the nomads and the handicapped or persons with disabilities are underserved. The education systems are organized into series consisting of six years at primary level, three years in secondary level and four years in university. Great controversies exist about placement of learners with disability in the school. Following the inclusive education movement children with special needs in learning should be placed in the regular classroom which they could have attended if they were normal. Each child belongs to the normal classroom and there should be no conditions imposed to isolate or exclude him/her from that environment (Okoh, 2007, p.26).

Flag

            The United States Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 every year to commemorate the adoption of the flag of United States which occurred that day by resolution of the second continental congress. Flag Day is however not recognized as a federal holiady.Title 36 of the United States code, chapter one -110 contains the official statute of the Flag Day.

Therefore it is the president’s discretion to proclaim officially the observance.

In   Nigeria the national flag was designed in 1959 and officially hosted for the first time in October 1960.The white bands on its face represent peace while the green bands represent the forests and the abundant natural wealth of Nigeria. The national flag represent an adoption of the winning entry in a competition that was held in 1959.The original flag had a red sun streaming on its face on top of the white stripes but it was removed later by judges and it has not been altered again till today

Literacy

The literacy rate of United States is estimated to be at 99%.Various definitions exists about the term but those   who drop school at grade four are considered literate but functionally illiterate. Literacy level in Nigeria is low and it is attributed to the high rates of poverty in the northern states to public apathy towards education and acquisition of western knowledge

Food

            The culinary arts and mainstreams in United States are similar to those found in other western countries. Wheat is primarily the major cereal. Traditional American cuisine make use of ingredients such as turkey, white tailed deer, sweet potatoes, squash and maple syrup in their indigenous foods. Slow –port cooked pork, beef barbecue, cakes, potatoes, chips and crabs are present in their meals. American soul foods that used to be made by slaves before independence are also common around the south of America and among many African Americans elsewhere.

In Nigeria and like any other West African country, cuisine is known for its richness and variety. Different herbs, spices and flavorings are used together with palm oil or ground nut to make deeply flavored sauces and soaps which are oftenly made very hot by adding chilli pappers. Nigeria meals are always colorful and lavish. Aromatic and roadside snacks are cooked with barbecues or fried in plentiful oil.

Music

The American music has been greatly influenced by the rhythmic and lyrical styles of the African-American music therefore, distinguishing it from European traditions. Elements from folks and idioms such as blues and what has been known as old time music have been transformed into popular music genres with global audiences. Jazz music was composed by innovators such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington during the early 20th century. Rhythm, blues, country music rock and roll came up in the 1920s.Bob Dylan introduced the folk revival which became one of Americans greatest songwriters while James Brown spearheaded the development of funk. Current American creations include the house music and hip hops. Americans superstars such as Madonna and Michael Jackson have grown to be global celebrities.

Nigeria is famously known as “the heart of African music” due to the great roles it has played in the development of West African highlife and palm wine music which mixes native rhythm with techniques imported from Brazil, Cuba and Congo. Nigeria music is composed of folks and popular music some of which are known world wide. The different styles of music are closely related to multitude of ethnic groups in the country each using its own techniques, songs and instruments. The 20th century musicians, the likes of Fela Kuti have famously mixed cultural elements of various indigenous music with American jazz and soul to produce the afrobeat music.

Differences and similarities.

Only a few differences exist between United States and Nigeria. These differences appear mostly in matters of governance and politics. The organizational structure of the United States government is abit   more complex as compared to the organization structure of the Nigeria’s government. Centralization of powers is abit more static and complex than it is seen in Nigeria.  Great discrepancies are also observed in the literacy levels with U.S accounting for the largest percentage of literacy.  Differences are also registered in the education setups where education in United States is compulsory while in Nigeria education is not compulsory. Seemingly, Similarities exist in the systems of education in both countries although in U .S there are many competitive private institutions for learning while in Nigeria the state provides full educational support to its residents. Their music is seemingly similar with Nigeria borrowing a few arts from U.S.

Reference

Klepp Susan (2005) A Population History of United States. Journal of Southern History, Vol.71

Andrea Libresco (2005) Voices of a People’s History of the United States. Social Education, Vol.69

Peter Schwab (1996) Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions. New York, West Publishing Company

Cohen Stephen (2000) The Making of United States International Economic Policy: Principles, Problems, and Proposal for Reform. Westport, CT, Praeger

Robert Hutchins (1999) The Higher Education in America. Journal of Higher Education, Vol.70

Berger Michael (1997) The Public Education System. New York F. Watts Publishers

Rubin Barry (1997) A Citizen’s Guide to Politics in America: How The System Works & How to Work the System. London, M.E. Sharpe

Gregory Jones (2004) The Guide towards America. New York, Blackwell Publishers

Falola Toyin (2001) Culture and Customs of Nigeria. London, Greenwood Place

Toyin Falola (1999) The History of Nigeria. London. Greenwood Press

Chris Muktidi (2004) Exploring Nigeria. London, Routledge

Ezera Kalu (1996) Constitutional Reform in Nigeria. Lagos, Nigeria

Obi Cyril (2001) The Cahnging Forms of Identity Politics In Nigeria Under Economic Adjustiment: The Case of the Oil Minorities Movements of the Niger Delta

Eghosa Osaghae (2005) Structural Adjustment and Ethnicity in Nigeria. Lagos, Nordic African Institute

Okoh Emmanuel (2007) Universal Basic Education (UBE) in Nigeria: An Appraisal. Education, Vol.127

 

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