The outbreak of coronavirus in Nigeria did not only shut down businesses, it affected academic activities. Students were asked to stay at home as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike also contributed to the long closure. However, students of various tertiary institutions have expressed mixed feelings on the announcement of resumption by the Federal Government, reports ADESOLA IKULAJOLU (AAUA).
The coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown was announced in March 2020 across the country. Then, students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), Ondo State were to begin their first semester examination for 2019/2020 academic session.
Little did they know that the lockdown would take a longer time, no thanks to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike, which further prevented the examination from holding.
However, following the directive of the Federal Government that schools should resume on Monday, January 18, 2021, tertiary institutions also fixed their dates for resumption and examination.
AAUA, in a circular by the Acting Registrar of the institution, Akinfenwa Opeoluwa announced that examination would commence on January 24, a week after resumption. Nonetheless, some students across tertiary institutions in the country believe resumption came too soon,while others said the nation must find a way to live with the pandemic by adhering strictly to safety protocols and guidelines,without necessarily closing schools or initiating a lockdown, which would cripple activities across all spheres.
Olowookere Olorunsaanu, a student of Mass Communication in Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, said it would be impossible for the pandemic to put us in lockdown forever and schools would have to learn how to manage and adapt.
“We should know this pandemic can’t put us on lockdown forever, we should learn how to manage this. Even in China and some European countries that have more cases, they are still managing it,” he said.
Olowookere maintained that the resumption was necessary for students to continue their education but that the sudden announcement of examination date would not help the students to perform well.
He said: “The management can still give students some time to refresh their brains.Then, some of the lecturers have not even finished their course content before the lockdown.”
Another student of AAUA, Seyifunmi Adeosun, said though students were due for resumption, it was too sudden. He explained that the news of resumption was good but that the increasing cases of COVID-19 made it worrisome.
“As a student, the decision to resume school is obviously the news of the year which we are all happy to hear, but on the other hand, considering the cases of COVID-19, one may be tempted to think otherwise.
“Students want to resume but it shouldn’t be too sudden. I think it is not a bad idea if the students are given two weeks to prepare for exams after staying at home for more than 10 months,” he said.
He noted that the pandemic is not looking like a global health issue that will leave anytime soon, stressing that following the laid down safety measures was imperative.
At the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), the management had to conduct virtual matriculation for new students during the lockdown. The students joined through a video conferencing platform, so they could take the oath of matriculation as bonafide students of the institution.
However, the news of the resumption came as a rude shock to some of the students. Coming with the resumption date is also the preparation for examination in FUOYE because the session was about to round off before the lockdown started.
According to Oyegoke Samuel, a Sociology student FUOYE, it would be stressful for students to quickly adapt to school life, adding that virtual platforms should have been used to make students attune themselves to learning following the long break.
He said: “Announcing examination date is not fair. It is going be stressful on students considering that the majority of us delved into business and other ventures during the lockdown.
“The virtual platforms should first be used to familiarise students with education again and give ample time for gathering of funds on the part of the parents.”
While several institutions and the students are resuming, compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols will be a major concern considering the increasing number of cases in the country.
Yusuf Mutiu, a student of Human Kinetics Education at the University of Ilorin, said: “The increase in the number of COVID-19 victims may be aided with the resumption if the guidelines are not well observed. It will be tough to abide by them, but it will do everyone involved a great deal of favour if they are observed.”
While many of the students are happy to resume back to school, it will be another struggle to adapt to academic activities.
“Ten months out of campus can’t do any good to the plan of any student. And as such, it is a good time to resume even though some will struggle to adapt to the heavy schedule,” Mutiu added.
Last year, some institutions resumed academic activities through Zoom and physically. One of such institution was Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic (AAPOLY), Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State which reopened and conducted examination after few weeks.
While some students complained about the rush of the academic calendar and examination, others saw it as a way for the school to cover up lost grounds.
Caleb Ijioma, a student of AAPOLY, pointed out that some students were affected by the examination date because they were unable to pay up their tuition fee which was a requirement to write examination.
“The examination date was fair to students but as fair as it was, it affected few students. Some students were unable to pay their tuition fee making them unable to write examinations. Due to the short time frame provided by the polytechnic, students had to struggle to get money for their tuition fee,” he said.
On her part, Precious Akintulubo, also of AAPOLY, said it was easy for some students to regain their focus back in class because the school organised online classes during the lockdown.
She said: “The examination date was a bit fair because we were given the opportunity to revise the work we did during the online class.”
Comrade Olatunde Fanika, a member of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), said resumption came at the right time because 10 months at home without any alternative had hampered the progress of students academically.
He said there was no reason students should be kept at home and that this period was best for students in various fields to learn about the virus.
He added: “If other places can be opened, there is no reason schools should not open because resumption is long overdue. Several institutions created virtual classes for students, but it was not effective due to some factors.”
He advised schools not to rush students at this point and that the curriculum should be relaxed to allow students learn at their best. He also urged students to try to get themselves back to academic activities and focus.
Tunde Adejuwon, a 200-Level student of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), said with the coronavirus pandemic still ravaging the world, resumption had come too soon. He noted that cases could spike with the number of students who were resuming.
On the contrary, Mariam Olaosebikan, a 300-Level Law student of University of Lagos (UNILAG), noted that resumption was imperative at this period, following the lockdown which halted academic pursuits across the country.
She said: “COVID-19 has shown us that it is here to stay. We have to find ways to adjust to the new normal. Students should also try to adapt because they cannot continue to stay at home.”
On his part, Samuel Ogochukwu,a 200-Level student of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), the decision to resume academic activities is good but lecturers will need to touch important topics that may probably be the focus of their examination
He said: “Resumption is a welcome development but schools should allow students revise for at least two weeks before examination starts.They have at home for long, hence, the brain needs to be refreshed. Revision will help in recalling what we have been taught. It is quite essential.”
For Jumoke Ademiniyi, a 400-Level student of University of Benin (UNIBEN), some schools do not have the right safety measures in place to contain the Coronavirus.She, therefore, stated it is dangerous to resume considering the large number of students in most campuses.
She said: “Some institutions don’t even have enough facilities to contain the spread of COVID19. In fact, if you go to some schools, their health centres leave much to be desired. The government should also try to establish isolation centres in schools Incase there are cases.”
Temiyemi Olusina, a 300-Level student of Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), said there was no need for resumption if schools have got world-class virtual infrastructure. He stressed the need for online learning,which he said remains the only way to guarantee the safety of students and lecturers.
“We need to fully embrace e-learning to ensure the safety of staff and students. It is, however, unfortunate that most schools in the country lack the facilities for online learning. We just hope resumption will not result in increase in the number of COVID-19 cases because the figures keep rising everyday,” he said.