For some students of the Anambra State University, these are not the best of times. Due to no fault of theirs, they cannot graduate after completing a four-year programme in Technology Education.
The course is not accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC). Others studying the course may suffer the same fate if it is not accredited before they complete the programme. Despite the accreditation challenge, the university still admitted students into the programme during the 2012/2013 academic year. It stopped admitting students Technology Education in the 2013/2014 academic session. Those admitted for the course were directed to change to Science Education or other courses during clearance.
The students are wondering why the programme has not been accredited despite the N5billion Governor Peter Obi gave the university to secure accreditation for its courses.
The Course Representative of the troubled class, Chisom Obialo, was crying with other members when this reporter met them following a peaceful protest to draw the management’s attention to their plight.
Obialo said: “Our department has a problem with resource verification and the two times the school did it, it failed to get accreditation due to lack of good books in the library and inadequate teaching staff, among other things, that could be sorted out.
”The school management appears disposed to shutting down the department rather than fixing the complaints that made denied it accreditation. And we did a peaceful protest and after that we were asked to change to Science Education or Engineering or any other department of our choice without considering the cost implications. The protest made it possible for us to have audience with the Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof Fidelis Okafor.
”We checked what is involved and discovered that it would take us a minimum of two years if not more in Engineering and minimum of three years in an Engineering course. And aside that, we would be attending lectures of Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 before we graduate and you know how tasking that would be.”
Obialo said things would not have degenerated if the university had acceded to the students’ request to change their course when they suspected the issues may not be resolved.
He said: “They had earlier said we should go and tell our parents but we rejected the offer because they know how much time it would take. Whereas we had earlier pleaded to change course when we were still in Year One, they refused, hoping to gain accreditation. Now that it did not materialise they want us to tell our parents who went through hell to train us to continue afresh.
“Now we have finished our degree examinations and written our projects only that they have not arranged for us to come for defence. The good thing they can do for us is to transfer us to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka where the institution could arrange for a mop-up examination to enable us graduate. That is the most viable option for us rather than to spend another two to three years in another course which we may not understand the basics.
”They have not thought out what to do to those still behind us now that we are having this challenge. If we wait for another resource verification, we don’t know when it will take place. The agony is that there was a meeting we had with the Registrar and he said that people in our department do not exist?
“The glory of the encounter was that we had an agreement with the Vice Chancellor to take us to other universities like the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, to be aligned with them and do the needful to graduate with them after special tutorial sessions and examinations if need be. But since then we have not heard from him.”
When contacted, Head, Technology Education Department S. A. Akaneme, directed this reporter to the Vice-Chancellor or the Registrar.
On why she did not guide the students well, the Academic Adviser, Dr Nkiru Achebe, said she had not seen them for over two weeks to know how far they have gone in their agitation.
Dr Achebe said: “This is a long story. I do not know what to advise again; they must have told you. Anything you want to ask me ask the students; they would answer on my behalf. I don’t want to be provoked but if you don’t mind come next Wednesday if you want to know what I had advised.”
The Dean, Faculty of Education, Prof Benedict Ezeliora, said she was on the road when our reporter called her.
The Registrar, Mr O.R.A Okechukwu, promised to discuss the issue later but all efforts to get him failed.
The Public Relations Officer, Lady Chinwe Nnedum, confirmed the precarious situation what the students are going through.
Lady Chinwe said: “The students have been asked to go to any department of their choice because accreditation of the department did not go through.”
On the number of years they would lose if they go to other departments she said: “What I am not sure is how many years or how long it would take them but I do not want to be categorical on that, but they would surely lose something. So rather than continue in futile waiting till the next accreditation, they were advised to go to any department of their choice.”
On the students’ request to be taken to other universities where the course is being studied like the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, she said: “I don’t know about their earlier request to be changed to other universities but I would find out from the Vice Chancellor because what I don’t know I don’t know.”
Secretary-General of the Students Union Government (SUG) Chidozie Ilora the issue would be sorted out.
The VC, Prof Okafor, was said to have met with the students to discuss the way out.
The students have petitioned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and other human rights groups for intervention. They have also petitioned Governor Willie Obiano, the Chief Judge and the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
The petition, which was copied the VC reads: ”In line with solving the current problem, we have considered and x-rayed the option of changing to other departments and we found out that if we change to Science Education (Computer Education option) which is the most related and has the least number of courses, we will write about 42 fresh courses which will take us a minimum of two years or four semesters . We will also have to carry 27 credit load per semester and attend lectures of more than one level at a time (i.e. attend lectures of Year 1, 2 and some of Year 3 in a particular semester).
”If we change to Engineering, Mechanical Engineering will require a minimum of three years of six semesters to write about 66 courses, excluding the StudentsIndustrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) and project, 165 credit load. We will also have to attend lectures of more than one level at a time in all to complete the programme in the said time frame.
“If we change to Civil Engineering, we will write about 63 courses , 143-credit load excluding SIWES and project. This will also require a minimum of three years.
“If we change to Electrical and Electronics Engineering, we will write about 49 courses, 148-credit load which will also require a minimum of three (3) years or six (6) semesters.
“Sequel to our agreement with you on 4th February, 2014 to merge us with our set at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka (UNIZIK), we have made possible efforts to realise this objective.
“We were able to reach the Dean, faculty of Education , UNIZIK, the following day being 5th February 2014 on the same issue and he told us that UNIZIK has been accepting students on transfer but stopped at a time due to cultism issues but our case is quite different. He went further to say that it is a matter of our school (ANSU) administration reaching out to UNIZIK and having an agreement and also having an understanding. If there are necessary adjustments that needed to be done, he the Dean, is an ever willing and obedient servant to carry out directives from the authorities. He said it was not within his office to tell us whether this particular merger would work or not; that it depends on the school authorities and the card our school ANSU places on the table which we understand to mean how our school presents the matter to them.”
The students said they were shocked to hear something different from their school. They said: “We were shocked to learn from our Dean in a meeting on 17th February, 2014 that the Registrar informed them at a meeting held on 12th February 2014 that he has gone to UNIZIK and found out that transferring us to UNIZIK will take up to two years and about N2million to lobby the Senate of UNIZIK and that as a matter of fact, UNIZIK has never accepted students on transfer. However we discovered later that there was no such information from UNIZIK management according to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Admin) of UNIZIK.
“We are still waiting to assist the school in any way we can to see that this matter is resolved urgently, to avoid our future being put in jeopardy.” (The Nation)
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