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1000-Seat Class For 2000 Students: OAU Faces Worsening Infrastructural Crisis

One of Nigeria’s foremost tertiary schools, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, faces worsening infrastructural deficit, a problem that questions the institution’s routinely touted capacity for quality education, findings by CAMPUS REPORTER have shown.

Apart from deplorable living conditions in the school’s halls of residence, scarcely do students have adequate classrooms and lecture theatres for learning. In most cases, as our correspondent found, these facilities have limited carrying capacity compared to number of students using them, therefore denying sizable number access to lectures.

EGL 101 is a shocking example. The course is taken by about 2000 students from different departments in the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Law and the Arts components in the Faculty of Education. Nevertheless, the university provides for the 2000 students of the year 1 course a 1000-seat lecture lecture theatre. 

The case is not different for EGL 102, LIT 101 and LIT 102, all English language courses.

Many students, interviewed by our correspondent, said the poor learning conditions contributed to their low performances. 

The students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife have said that the institution management contribute to their failure. Recently CAMPUS REPORTER reported the case of a 100 level student of Microbiology, Mercy Afolaranmi, who allegedly committed suicide over poor grade.

CAMPUS REPORTER on Friday visited OAU to investigate why the students fail. In the just released CHM101, a compulsory course in department of Chemistry for all 100 level faculty of Science, faculty of Agriculture, faculty of Technology and College of Health Sciences, a statistic obtained by CAMPUS REPORTER shows that 1,519 students failed the course.

Also, over 100 students in department of English failed EGL203 during 2015/2016 session. CAMPUS REPORTER learnt that this failure is connected to the overpopulation of students the university admit yearly.

There is correlation between the poor learning conditions and results, according to students.

“As I speak to you, I am a victim of EGL101 and LIT102,” said Suleiman Sanni, 200 level English language student, who his retaking the 100 level courses having failed them in his year 1. 

He continued: “I have the need to be taking those courses despite the fact that I am in 200 level now. Even those in the class often don’t hear the lectures of the lecturers because most public address system only pass message to the first 200 or thereabout people in the front row.

“We were 637 when I was admitted in 100 level, however EGL101, EGL102, LIT101 and LIT102 are courses compulsory for students of Faculty of Law who were above 300, Dramatic Arts students, Linguistic and African Languages students. We were given 1000-seat  lecture theatre for a course that was being offered by more than 2000 students which means half of the students cannot have the opportunity to be in the class.”

Another 200 level student  of Department of Political Science, Opeyemi Ilori, said   he was quitting  OAU for another school, University  of Ilorin to go start his education afresh. Quoting his parents, both Ife alumni, he said classes meant for 200 students decades before now are today for over 1000 students.

He said: “I have informed my parents about how OAU had degenerated and the need to be in a better learning environment. My both parents graduated from OAU and they told me that the same lecture theatres where over 1000 students receive lecture today are the same lecture theatres designed for 200 students during their time.

“Just last week, a lecturer could not take us in AUD 1 due to the fact that the place is not conducive for students and even the lecturer himself. He even raised argument that the class room does not have exit in case of emergency and therefore dismissed us that he could not lecture in an unsafe environment. 

“The semester is running to an end and we have not attended more than two of his classes. Students will only be shocked with examination and test questions at the end of the semester without remembering anybody who teaches the course.”

But some lecturers are making matter worse as they would refuse to use public address system in already over-crowded classes, student said.

“We are over  populated, yet when the class representatives give public address system to our lecturers, they frown at them and deny collecting the PAS. This has negative effects on us as it all shows by the time they release students result and record mass failure,” said a Mathematics, who simply identified himself as Tamilore.

But it does appear the authorities of the school have to grips with the enormity of the problem, which not only affect the quality of education obtainable in the school, but also makes mess of the school’s longstanding reputation.

Speaking with our correspondent, the Dean of Students’ Affairs, Isiaka Aransi said the management prioritised “welfare of the students”, but he made no mention of any concrete plan to address the problem.

“We enjoin the students to focus on their primary assignment on campus while their welfare is our priority,” he said.

The OAU example, not good one this time, may be a window to what is obtained in other schools.

Poor public funding badly affects Nigeria’s education system. But many also accuse authorities of schools of corruption and poor accountability standards.

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