Ojú ló pẹ́ sí, àmọ́dún ò jìnà – Yoruba proverb
The semester exams are here; to put it more aptly, the semester exams are nearly here. Tempted as you might be to wave this off, let us remind you that this is the eighth week of the mandatory thirteen weeks of lectures. If five weeks seems so far off to you, the recent change in your lecturers’ teaching pace should serve to convince you. If you have noticed, lots of lecturers have abandoned the laissez-faire and relaxed mode with which they started the semester. They have ceased to spend their weekly periods on a fraction of a module. Some are already seeking for makeup classes already. If you still seem unconvinced, then look at the barrage of assignments you’ve been receiving of late. The eighth week is the official test week, and tests, assignments, group presentations, quizzes and group discussions must have been happening for your courses on the respective learning platforms. These recent developments are nothing but a pointer to the imminence of the semester exams. If the semester exams are more imminent than one could ever imagine, are things as they should be?
The Uncertainty of the Mode for the Coming Semester Exams
The end-of-semester exams are here, but the sadly funny thing is that students do not know what mode the exams will take. Will students sit the semester exams physically? Will the exams be virtual? The answer to these joins the name of Bola Ige’s assassin on the list of unknown things. There have been hints at students sitting the exams physically. Hints from lecturers who claim that the University of Ibadan can never have virtual exams, and from student groups where forwarded WhatsApp messages claim the exams will be physical, with no provisions for students’ accommodation on campus. There are indeed three options open to the University of Ibadan:
Fully Virtual First Semester Exams
The University Management can opt for a fully virtual mode of administering exams. This would only corroborate their claims that the institution is not COVID-19-ready to accommodate students on campus. It It is also the best and most justifiable option for the choice of a virtual first semester in the first place. If the institution opted for a virtual first semester because it was not ready for physical operations, it is only logical that it finishes the semester virtually. However, the peculiar situation of Nigeria puts this option in the cold hands of the most unlikely. The reasons are not far-fetched; there have been glitches during the virtual classes, ranging from power outage, to poor internet connection, to the recent crash of the school portal. It is then risky for the school to embark on a lofty mission of administering virtual exams. What platform will the school use? Is the school virtually ready? Are the lecturers ready and willing to administer virtual exams? What shall we say of the claims that the University of Ibadan can never administer virtual exams? What provision will the school make for students whose internet connection or gadgets fail them while writing an exam? How will the school guard against manipulations, manoeuvering and cheating? These rain of questions make the choice of virtual semester exams the unlikely.
Online and On-site Semester Exams
Another option in the box for the University of Ibadan is the choice of an on-site and online mode of administering exams. This was the mode the school adopted for its post-UTME exams, where examinees will be present at a physical location, yet, sit their exams online. Opting for this mode of administering exams has its string of buts: what is the essence of having examinees present at a physical setting when they would write the exams online? Does this mode allow for prevention against the proclaimed COVID-19 virus that hindered us from running a physical first semester? Does the University have provisions for the number of students that will be sitting the exams? How many months will the exams require for the various departments? We want to believe that the University Management is not considering this option. However, should they have nursed the idea of picking it, let them consider the questions we above and review their decision. This is perhaps the worst of all three options.
Physical Pen and Paper Exams
Dear student, the earlier you knew that the University Management will most likely go for this option, the better it is, as you would know what preparations to make towards it. This option might have earned the moniker of the most likely amidst lecturers, and perhaps the School Management, but we say opting for it will be ill-advised. For one, what is the essence of running a virtual first semester and investing in e-learning just to have physical exams? Has the COVID-19 virus informed us that it has rolled its baggage out of Nigeria? Why run a virtual semester on the basis of “there’s a pandemic out there”, only to go back on how initial reasons and administer physical exams? Is it that the COVID-19 virus does not strike during exams? What will be the rationale behind having physical exams?
If the School Management sidelines our questions and eventually picks this option, there remain but some questions to ask: how exactly will we administer physical exams when students have no access to halls of residence? Recall that the Acting Vice-Chancellor said that students were not asked to get accommodation anywhere on or around the school campus. What magic will students then be expected to perform when the school finally announces its choice of a physical mode of exams? Should these same students who were asked to stay at home start ogling for rooms in Agbowo or under-bridge?
It is saddening and seriously unacceptable that students do not know the mode through which they will sit the forthcoming semester exams, when we have barely a month to the said exams. When exactly does the school want to make its announcement? A week to exams? Two days to? The virtual semester is tiring enough, the burden this uncertainty places on students’ shoulders is weighty and unneeded. Students and their parents are also stakeholders in this institution, and they deserve to know how the mode of exams early enough. How do we expect Mr. Gbolahan to get impromptu accommodation fees, should the school suddenly announce a physical mode of exams? A better alternative is for the school to make provisions for accommodating students on campus. This provision could go for affordable fees such as fifty naira or a hundred naira daily per student. It is only if the school administration is considering this alternative that their prolonged silence and envisioned impromptu announcement can be forgiven.
The claim that our institution is a microcosm of the nation is one that has proved to be more factual than otherwise. Just as the Nigerian government wakes up with new progress-infringing policies that cripple sectors and leave the youth struggling, our institution is also known for student-unfriendly policies and decisions. In the end, it is always a case of the students finding their path amidst the rough path of thorns and jagged bottles made worse by the administration’s decisions. In essence, any serious University of Ibadan student should have processed an abode somewhere on or around the school campus by now, Should the management decide that we will have physical exams, which they will, most likely, finding a place to settle in will be difficult. No one, but you, will bear the blame for your poor grades. The school will not admit that the inconvenient nature of their policies affected you; therefore, wise up!