Challenges of university education in Nigeria
The quest for higher education in Nigeria is ever on the increase. Earlier on in the life of the Nigerian republic, university education was thought fit only for men while ladies were considered to be equipped only with housekeeping skills. The primary six school leaving certificate was considered the most appropriate for women and was considered a feat for a woman to attain secondary school education. Today, the number of candidates aspiring to gain admission into Nigerian Universities regardless of sex is greatly on the rise by many fold. However, attaining a University Education in Nigeria comes with significant huddles that need to be surmounted to achieve the ambition of obtaining a good university degree. Nigerian Universities are well capable of producing sound and reputable graduates. But there are myriad and convoluted challenges faced by prospective candidates of Nigerian universities that need to be seriously addressed.
One of such huddles presents itself in the form of the S.S.C.E or G.C.E as the case may be. Around 1990 to about 2008 or there about, examination malpractice was at its peak. Some schools turned a blind eye to cheating by their students. Candidate impersonation was not uncommon coupled with leaking of examination materials beforeh and popularly referred to as “Expo”. In some instances, surprise swoops by external security operatives arrive resulted in a mad dash to mad dash out of the examination halls by the impersonators as they ran “helter-skelter” to the nearest bushes to hide. Stiff sentences where handed down to those apprehended by the authorities. In some instances, results from the whole examination centers were canceled, as well as those from other innocent schools caught up in the mix. On the plus side, constant surveillance and intervention by the government has greatly ameliorated this problem. The next huddle facing potential university candidates is JAMB. Candidates fortunate to be among the lucky few who having burned the midnight oil, achieved the necessary score to be admitted to the course of their choice where fortunate. However, significant number of candidates having studied very hard too failed to achieve the necessary score for admission to their chosen courses. Some of these candidates having failed to achieve the necessary Jamb scores resulted to fraud in the hope of changing their fortune. Some of these candidates paid to be impersonated by someone else to write their exam during their next Jamb examination or even worse with the right connection have their result changed directly at Jamb headquarters.
Although the penalty if a candidate is caught engaging in fraudulent practices are severe with serious and life changing consequences, this did not appear to deter those candidates who were desperate for a university education but could not scale the Jamb hurdle. Candidates getting away with these kinds of malpractice, has a knock-on effect on those who wanted to work hard to gain admission on their merit, to their preferred university. The computerized system used today by Jamb, is a welcomed change but not without its own drawbacks. Indeed, during the just conducted Jamb exams, candidates were beset by a myriad of problems including malfunctioning computers and power failure. These issues left those who did not make it with a bitter taste in their mouth, blaming their failure not on their own shortcomings but on the avoidable problems that arose whilst they were taking the exams. Given the situation, one wonders how reliable some of these results are.
Having succeeded in overcoming the Jamb barrier, candidates are now faced with Post Jamb selection in their chosen universities i.e. exams conducted by universities to place students who met the required cut off mark. If all goes well the candidate becomes an undergraduate in a Nigerian Universities. To be a mature undergraduate, who understands the pros and cons of studying in a Nigerian University is one thing but to be a naïve exuberant and idealistic undergraduate, with a lots of big dreams but with no real worldly idea on how to face the challenges ahead is another encumbrance in the way of wading through university life seamlessly. One of the first major problems is hostel accommodation because most Universities only provide hostel accommodation for first year and final year students. But as almost every student at university require some form of accommodation the hostels become overcrowded with squatters i.e. illegal occupants. Students who are neither freshers nor final year students are interested in the school hostels and are ready to pay exorbitant prices to get a space. This situation leaves some of the “freshers” in a very bad situation, as their inability to secure a space, makes them squatters within and outside the campus. For those who are not so lucky and do not have enough money to secure their own place, end up either losing the admission or squatting with a member of the opposite sex which is very bad.
There have been numerous cases were“freshers” have been introduced into bad gangs, prostitution and cultism because they had no choice, as those they have been forced to squat with apply undue pressure on them to comply or find themselves without somewhere to lay their heads.
We must also take into consideration that most of these freshers have never left the comfort of their homes or the watchful eyes of their parents or guardians. Undergraduates are usually deceived and hold that joining a cult would give them high connection and they would make waves within and outside the campus. Unfortunately they would have to find out themselves that joining a cult leaves one completely exhausted and dehydrated if still alive to tell the story. Often time’s undergraduates hide under the cover of religion to avoid detection. Even at that some are still detected and forced to join these nefarious activities. They thereby become a problem and give their religious sects a bad reputation. Drug and substance abuse is increasingly becoming popular among our undergraduate, the free flow of Shisha, India hemp and other narcotics, are readily available in the numerous beer parlors, clubs, hotels etc.
Sexual harassment has been and still is an issue in our Universities. It is no news that undergraduates, have had to part with large sums of money or give their bodies freely to lecturers. In order to obtain good grades whether or not they deserve them. Poor and inadequate infrastructure still remains a problem that is yet to be tackled successfully. We must understand that these problems are not part and parcel of Nigerian University Education. Government and private industries still have a lot to do, to make our universities a safe fair healthy and friendly environment.
Amina wrote from United Estate, Ojodu, Berger, Lagos State.
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