By: AbdulRahman Adebayo
Adeniyi Isaiah just finished lunch on a Saturday afternoon in September. He was about to continue his preparation for the first test of a three-unit course scheduled to hold four days later, when this reporter arrived at his room.
“We have not had any GES class this semester,” Diplomat, as the first year student is fondly called, said before taking a seat at his reading desk. He turned away from his books suddenly and took a long look at this reporter like someone trying to process a newly found piece of information. “That must be looked into,” he finally blurted out.
“This is the seventh week, and we have not even been grouped; we have not heard any information about the course.”
Speaking further, Yinka, whose initial carefree response had now transformed into lamentations, noted that the fact that more than six weeks after this semester commenced, classes for the two GES classes he is offering are not in progress is even more problematic when the fact that French is one of those is taken into consideration. “Most of the things there are quite difficult to some of us who did not offer it in secondary school,” he noted.
After a series of changes in the academic calendar and a shift in exam date during the first semester, the University of Ibadan commenced the second semester of the current academic session in July. However, six weeks after, first-year students of the institution are yet to set eyes on their lecturers, not because they are holding virtual classes, but because they are holding no classes at all.
A 2013 research published by the Global Institute for Research and Education, based on data from a Ugandan University, indicated that attendance is statistically significant in explaining the overall academic performance of students, and lecturers who miss lectures frequently significantly increase the odds of a poor grade in a given course for each of their students.
The findings by this report indicate that the six weeks for which the Centre for General Studies has failed to commence classes — which represent over a third of the lecture weeks available in a semester — have the tendency to cause a relatively poor performance in students.
‘The Time Delayed Cant Be Made Up For’- Other Students Speak Up
Other first-year students who spoke with this reporter on the issue shared Yinka’s sentiments and fear about how the situation could affect their performance in the course. One of those students is Tijani Abdulkabir, an undergraduate at the Department of History.
Kabir explained that the scenario, which he describes as an unfortunate one, is an indication that the school’s system does not really care about each course students enrol for. “By Monday, we are starting the seventh week, yet, we haven’t even started the GES courses. For many of us, we don’t even know the lecturers in charge, yet, we are still going to write the same exams like those that have done it last semester,” Kabir chipped in with a slightly raised voice.
He explained further that at the end of the day, the performance of students would bear the brunt of the system’s failure because it is already impossible for them to be able to make the most out of it.
“We would be left with whatever decisions they make. They might get us a textbook or they might come up with slides or a series of assignments. But none of these justify the fact that the time wasted cannot be made up for, and as long as this continues to happen, it would affect our performance at the end of the semester.”
“These are courses that basically you don’t even have a basic foundation in. We are talking about French, we are talking about Reproductive System… Science students might have a background in it, but for someone that is a non-science student, we are in the seventh week, yet, we don’t know how to navigate the courses.”
He added that “it is an abnormality that the University management needs to look at. It is a sign of inconsistency in leadership and it would have diverse effects on students.”
For Rufus Osunsami, a student at the Faculty of Education, the fact that classes for the General Studies courses have not commenced means he is not even conscious of the fact that he is offering any GES course yet.
“In my faculty, we haven’t started GES classes this semester. Even though we haven’t started the class, according to my findings, it was my class rep that divided us. I don’t think I even have any group that I belong to,” Rufus began.
He explained that, personally, he seriously struggles with putting himself in a psychological state that allows him to read or study very well for a course that he has not attended any class.
“More so, we would need a lot of explanation because it is an English language course; you can’t just cram. It would surely reflect in the exam and test. If it is any other course, probably in the Department of History, you can just get what happened and just go and pour it the way you read. But in this course, there are rules and techniques to it,” he added.