In some countries, Emmanuel Nworie, a first-class mathematics graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, would have used his knowledge to advance the prospects of his country, either in an academic environment or information technology sector. But the genius is wasting away on a farmland in Ebonyi state.
Had it been mechanised farming, Nworie would have, no doubt, made use of his skill effectively. But in a modern age, the scholar relies on hoe and cutlass for subsistence farming. The life journey of Nworie, who graduated with a cumulative grade point average of 4.92/5.00, is chronicled in an article shared by Michael Taiwo, a US-based Nigerian and sponsor of MT Scholarships.
Nworie had applied for the second edition of the scholarship which provides support for payment of graduate school application fees and TOEFL, GRE/GMAT — examinations required by candidates seeking admissions abroad.
According to the article, the 27-year-old lost his father to diabetes and hypertension when he was in secondary school, and since his father’s demise in 2005, life has been challenging, making it difficult for him to proceed with his education.
“He took a job teaching Mathematics to grades 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12 at the secondary school he finished from where he had the honor of being awarded the Best Mathematics Olympiad teacher in the State. His salary was $33.33 per month,” the article reads.
“Emmanuel lives with his mom and seven siblings in a house that is not hooked to the electric grid, doesn’t have indoor plumbing, has no address, and you need to walk a mile from it to get cellular coverage. Widowed, his mom took to cultivating cassava on the land their dad left behind. She also farms other people’s lands for a return of some of the harvest. It’s the type of arrangement only people without options take.”
Taiwo narrated how Nworie saved some part of his $400 (N185,000) per year teaching job to obtain education in a polytechnic where he studied statistics.
During his one-year internship after his polytechnic studies, he took other teaching jobs and saved more money till he was able to fund his university education.
Eight years after leaving secondary school, he gained admission to the department of mathematics, faculty of physical sciences at UNN.
In his final year, he won the gold medal in the university category of the 2018 national mathematics competition. After completing his one-year mandatory national service as a teacher in a secondary school in Enugu state, Nworie was retained to teach Advanced Mathematics at the school for $77.46 (N35,000) per month.
But as the coronavirus pandemic led to the shutdown of schools and businesses, the UNN graduate was forced to return to Ebonyi where he engaged in cassava planting alongside his mother.
When the lockdown was relaxed, Nworie returned to the city to teach. It was during the period that he learnt about the MT Scholarships and decided to apply.
Taiwo quoted him as saying it would take up to seven years to save for US graduate application fees.
“If the restrictions were still in place, there is no way I would have known about this from my house in Ebonyi. I have calculated that it would take me 6 to 7 years to save for this,” he said.
The cost of applying to US graduate schools is estimated to be $1,000.
“And punished for what exactly? For the “crime” of being born at the wrong place at the wrong time. There was a time in Nigeria a prodigy like him would have been calling the shots, regardless of his family circumstances,” the article reads.
“In many other parts of the world today, he would be pushing the boundaries of science, adding to the commonwealth of knowledge, exploring what is possible, preaching the beauty of Math. But alas, he was born poor in Nigeria.”