By Elijah Emmanuel
It is now a common practice in Nigeria higher institutions for students to cut queues in order to acquire a certificate. The slogan that hard work or diligence pays is being tagged “old school”. Lethargy, passivity, and frivolities are now the riders on the horse in our campuses. Students now find it very convenient to sort themselves out with their lecturers rather than concentrating in studying. The sedulous students are being labeled “Jackometers” meaning – a reading machine (a name given to deride them among their peers). Hence, studying hard is soon becoming an archaic way of obtaining the certificate. Some of the many antics played by students, lecturers and other staff in our higher institutions include:
Offering unmerited admission
The foundation of any student in a school of learning which the admission process is is being faulted by most nigerian higher institutions. Admission into any wall of academics should be primed on merit. But this process is being jeopardized. Gone are the days when a student sits at home and gets the admission letter into a reputable university without lobbying. As a matter of fact, in most of our higher institutions, the preference for state of origin/ catchment area is being priced over merit during the admission process. The unqualified candidate who is from the catchment area, or who has an affiliation with a staff, the management or even a politician is given the admission letter while the qualified candidate who has “nobody” is being jilted, and made to write the exam all over again.
Racketeering for grades
Many students in our higher institutions have gained the advantage of lubricating their lecturers with some “fat envelopes” in exchange for grades before or after an examination. The rule of thumb is “the fatter your envelope the higher your grade”. Many students have now seized the opportunity of this crack to indulge in chasing shadows on campus rather than studying hard, with the understanding that their lubricant will attract them what they had not worked for. Some lecturers on their own part, who had enjoyed this extended beneficence to their own peril from students, are now enforcing the practice. This they do by making the uncooperative students in the class pay dearly, irrespective of what the students have written in the exam.
More so, practical projects which are usually carried out by students in their final year in order to acquire practical skills to enhance some level of job experience after graduation is being jeopardized. Most lecturers in our higher institutions are using this medium to enrich their pockets. This is because students will be ready to pay anything in order to have a high grade in such courses. Usually, the credit load attached to such courses are always very heavy, making the students desperate to make good grades. The students pay these “project fees” after which the supervisors turn a blind eye to whatever the students do. Some students use this open window to plagiarize other peoples’ work and submit as their own work. No wonder why students now graduate from universities or polytechnics after spending 4-6 years without any practical skill. This could be worrisome especially in science based and other applied courses.
Sale of handouts or textbooks
In some of our institutions, the sales of hand outs by lecturers are not allowed, while in others, their sales are being regulated. However, it’s no one’s business in some other institutions especially in polytechnics and colleges of education. Some lecturers have however made their materials the sole resource materials. Hence, the purchase of these materials is made compulsory for all the students. As a matter of fact students are allotted free grades just for buying these lecture materials while those who could not afford to buy the materials are made to carry over the course. Worsening still is the fact that exam questions are sometimes lifted from these materials in favor of those who have been able to purchase the materials.
Some lecturers are in the practice of dolling out free grades to students in exchange for sexual pleasure. This practice is common more among the male lecturers. Some students however, prefer this method of increasing their CGPA rather than studying and so take advantage of the loop hole. At some other instance, these lecturers trade these young girls with some of their benefactors like politicians outside the campus in exchange for one favor or the other. These girls spend nights with the politicians while the lecturer gets the credit. Thereafter, the student is upgraded. The male students on their own part serve as the connecting link between the lecturers and the girls i.e. they play the lecturers “runners” in the business.
Students who cannot afford to buy their grade with money or sleep with their lecturers are given the opportunity to run errands at home for these lecturers. They visit homes of these lecturers to wash clothes, cars, clean their houses, while some even help in farming. All in exchange for grades.
More sickening is the situation where our leaders and other figures of prominence in the society who without going through the walls of an institution use their influence and affluence to lobby the institution management with huge irresistible mouth watering offers. These they do in exchange for a certificate they have little or zero knowledge about. It is no more uncommon to see past or incumbent governors who are now lawyers, without attending the law school. Serving or past Presidents, senators etc, who are claiming to be engineers, without attending an engineering class. These figures after their tenure in office go out to claim experts in fields they know nothing about.
Finally, some students who cannot afford any of the above have found solace in belonging to aggressive groups on campus using violence and threats to obtain what they want. Cultism and her cohorts has become an open society in some of our higher institutions. And students use these medium to threaten some of their lecturers or even management staff to make ends meet. More worrisome, is the situation where some staff in the university have also given-in to these means. As a matter of fact, in one of our universities in the South west, The Vice Chancellor of the university was the main sponsor of cultism on campus.
All these and sundry, calls for a state of emergency in the nigerian higher institutions. Education in Nigeria should be centered on acquiring knowledge and not just obtaining the certificate. A situation where the certificate is priced above knowledge acquisition is tantamount to loading the society with societal burdens and frictions. These elements on graduation become a liability rather than problem solvers. Every graduate from any institution should be produced with the objective of solving a problem. This the only channel through which any country can develop. In a job interview I attended some years back, I met with a graduate with honors from one of our universities in the south who could not write an application letter for employment! No wonder why with the teeming population of graduates downloaded into the society yearly, Nigeria is still in darkness, underdeveloped and labeled one of the poorest countries in the world. Education is the movement from darkness to light (Allan Bloom). If Nigeria must move from darkness to the light, then she must be bent on producing certificate owners worthy in character and learning. A fact which cannot be denied is that our institution merely give back to the society graduates that are half or even unbaked, thugs, mediocre and unrefined in their behavior. Noteworthy, most of the leaders we have today are people who had gone through one of these odd processes in obtaining their certificates. No wonder some of our leaders are not better than villains.
Finally, the Nigeria educational system from the grass root is in dare need of a total sanitization. Beginning from the students laddering up to the management and governing councils. The system is in a total dilapidating state and calls for a “save our souls” alarm. The individuals, society and the government in particular should rise up to this task of salvaging the educational system of our beloved country. Nelson Mandela stated that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Reports have shown that majority of the thugs, kidnappers, robbers, yahoo boys etc in the society are holders of higher institution certificates. Our higher institution is supposed to be a refinery where in student (the raw materials) after going through the process should come out a refined product, marketable any wherein the globe. A positive change is said to be the end result of all true learning. When this is not achieved then the purpose of the education is defeated despite the certificate awarded.