By Dunnex Samuel
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler’ – Albert Einstein
Why create monsters, when we can create men? Why kill ourselves, when we can save ourselves? Why chose death, when life is an option?
Out of 3868 students who sat for the CHM101 examination, more than half of the students failed the examination, while the majority of the remaining half managed to pass with E grade. Similar cases were also recorded during the last session, when 80% mass failure was recorded in courses such as CHM102, PHY101, SSC101 among others. As expected, it is the Almighty White House-where mass failure is an integral part of teaching and a traditional assessment of their ‘toughness’. Generally, cutting across all faculties of discipline, underperformance and mass failure is a common order graduating into a tradition.
As much as one might have agreed with the general defensive argument posited by certain scholars that students’ failure is a result of their unserious and lazy attitude towards learning, it is important to note that the role of the system (lecturers, living and learning facilities) can never be underestimated in the failure of students.
Truly, as certain quarters claims, that the system is for the survival of the fittest. It is salient to let them know that there is a clear-cut difference between Education And Mental Struggle. Mental struggle is a forceful impartation of knowledge into the mind under suffocative conditions with no significance while Education is a due impact of knowledge under conducive living and learning condition with a corresponding significance in the society.
The afore-paragraph is an answer to the millions of burning questions in the heart of the Nigerian populace and a reason for our present lamentable state since the exit of the colonial masters. Few of such questions; why Nigerian leaders such as, The president, minister of education and others prefer the foreign health care system to the domestic one, despite the acclaimed brilliance and thorough seasoning of the medical students. I need not go further to discuss on the dependency of the country in terms of technology and other aspects of development and production, despite the numbers of engineering graduates in the country.
It is only a betrayal of commonsense and a proof of foolhardy to expect academic excellence cum societal development, in a place where students are subjected to poor living and learning conditions. It is important to know that excellence remains a farce in a failing system. Scientifically, Mass failure is inevitable in a situation, where over 3000 students receives lectures in a lecture hall constructed for a
1000 students, with majority of the students standing and sitting on the floor while the lecturer even fails to use a public address system.
Without even mentioning the incessant power outages and erratic water supply to halls of residence, especially during the examination periods, one should wonder how lecturers expect punctuality and full attendance for an early morning class when students are met with an heavy queue at the limited tanks and water outlets in various hostels. The most fundamental needs of man are light and water and absence of these, amounts to a displaced psychological and mental state. All this, coupled with other inhumane and inconducive conditions of living and learning is a beckon to mass failure.
It is salient to also note the role of the examination conduct which also contributes immensely to mass failure. A compressed examination time-table is also a path to failure, itself. Like we had during the last examinations, when students wrote major papers simultaneously without break-A strategy some departments use to preserve their tradition of poor performance. Education should never be a rushed process, for the essence of impacting properlyit should be at learner’s pace.
This piece might remain incomplete without also recognizing the deliberate efforts of some lecturers to fail students, as a proof of their strength-a source of joy and pride to them, also, a form of ‘discipline’ for students they consider ‘erring’. It is against the principles of learning for lecturers to openly declare to students that certain academic grades and feats are unattainable as a defense to their egoistic impression.
Leaving students in an abyss state of mind with no choice but to accept fate as the lecturer decides and not a true test of their knowledge. Not excluding, lecturers who seldom attend lectures with no justifiable excuse for such- but chooses to take attendance, only on days with the lowest attendance, without even considering the reason for students’ absence. Then one should ask who is the serious and unserious one?
A wrong and incorrect notion popularly promoted by these lecturers, especially in this part of the world which has held us back in terms of societal advancement-is the belief that the complexity of the education system is proportionate to the outcome (societal development). The belief that a complex process would eventuate the best product is obsolete, translating into a conscious waste of time, energy and brain of the students.
With all logical deductions drawn, it is correct to say that what we have, is not a matter of the students failing but the system failing. The system is that which is not intelligent, not the students. A reason why Nigeria students easily make academic landmarks in foreign countries but it becomes an herculean task to get good grades within the country.
It is very unsafe to conclude this piece without mentioning the implications of the failing system and its effects on individuals and the immediate community (university, in this case), A victim(failed student) would suffer a lot of psychological and emotional trauma with traits of irrationality and distorted thoughts. Controlling such situations might be so uneasy for such student, which comes with a low self-esteem and sense of dejection and might eventually result into suicide.
A suicide would even be better, in the sense that only the individual is affected but a very possible scene is the uprise of cultism in the university environment, when the victimized students seek other means to get a revenge on the system, itself. As we have in certain universities in Nigeria, where neo-fascist eleemts operates in their fullest capacities and hunts every elements who contributed to their failure.
They say a word is a enough for the wise but I have painstakingly exhausted several pages to pass this message. This system is self-destructive and breeds monsters, it cannot contained.
We Need Education Not a Mental Struggle.
Dunnex Samuel is member of the Education Rights Campaign, ERC and Democratic Socialist Movement, DSM.