Perhaps you may have heard the rumors about how public universities in Nigeria intentionally grade their students poorly because of reasons such as: the need to reduce the number of highly qualified graduates without employment in the country, the frustration of lecturers due to the unfavorable working conditions (unpaid salaries, strikes etc.) and the one that takes the crown for the most ridiculous rumor of them all, lecturers seeking payback for all that was done to them during their university days.
As a student of a public university who has had a fair share of drastic drop in grades that led my CGPA going downhill, I must admit that the anger and disappointment that blinded my eyes made me susceptible to these rumors. However, I had to call myself to order and let the anger I once had push me to delve into this topic. My quest to find answers led to the discovery of possible reasons.
The four walls of the university is meant to serve as a place where students go to learn and become equipped with academic knowledge. To thrive best at this, one needs to identify their academic strengths and weaknesses then improve on them thus, helping them become better academicians. But what becomes the fate of students when these four walls aren't willing to help with this process? Unfortunately, this is the case with nearly all public universities in Nigeria, students are mostly given half-baked advices and left to figure out how to perform better in the next academic semester. But as the population of students in such schools is relatively high, one wouldn't entirely fault these institutions for paying little or no attention to activities that could be carried out to help each student identify and work on areas that need improvement.
Analyzing the marking system in these schools, is inarguably another factor that contributes to the academic issues faced by students. As mentioned earlier, the large population of students in public universities added to the fact that lecturers are human, mistakes during script marking, grade recording and uploading results are bound to happen. Furthermore, the heavy workload lecturers have to cope with and the limited timeframe for marking and submitting students' results doesn't make it any easier to curb these slip ups that end up causing more harm than necessary.
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Luckily, these are issues that can be tackled and as a matter of fact should be looked into with immediacy. To begin with the issue of identifying one's strengths and weaknesses, the universities could incorporate a system of feedback for students, informing them on what needs improvement and so forth – at least for the students that are willing to know. Alongside this,there should be a conducive environment where students can access their graded scripts and verify their results without the fear of being dismissed by lecturers. During a conversation with a friend who narrated her ordeal when she decided to verify a result with a ‘C', I got to hear that the lecturer made the statement; “If I have a way of failing you right now, I will.”Another person in the same public university as my friend claimed she had to pay a sum of money to get her result verified and corrected. It's dis-heartening that such things which should never have a place in our public universities are happening and no one seems to care enough to take bold steps to have them corrected.
Moving on, although the realities of the country do not permit the employment of more university lecturers, doing this can help reduce the workload and enable lecturers carry out their duties more efficiently thereby, helping to reduce the occurrence of mis-marking or mis-grading. Division of scripts among lecturers and the extension of marking periods can equally help in this aspect.
The points mentioned above are just a teardrop in the ocean of possible solutions to tackling these academic issues hence, efforts should be made by these schools to improve on this. It's bad enough that students have to deal with the pressure of exams and results, the last thing they need added to such pressure is lack of guidance which causes the feeling of being lost or the fear of not getting what they worked for and truly deserve.
By Fatima Idakwo
Idakwo is a Mass Communication student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
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