The hope of Toju Michael to finish his law degree programme by 2014 has been dashed by his school, the National Open University of Nigeria.
Out of the 13 courses that Michael sat for last year at the school’s study centre in Ikeja, Lagos State, only seven results were released.
In July 2013, Michael sat for six examination papers but only got the results of three courses. Also in October of the same year, he sat for another seven courses out of which four were missing.
Meanwhile, Michael said that the school authorities were yet to tell the affected students the reasons for the problem.
He said, “I don’t think that I can graduate this year again with the six of my results still missing. The problem is that nobody is telling us anything. We have tried to make enquiries but there has been no official statement on the issue.
“The issue affects many of us and we don’t know what to do about it again. I’m supposed to graduate this year but that depends on getting the results of the examinations I’ve written. We ought to know if we have passed or failed them.”
The National Open University of Nigeria is an open and distance learning institution.
According to the institution’s website, the university has 54 study centres spread across the nation and a student population of over 120, 000. It offers over 50 programmes and 750 courses across certificate, diploma and degree levels.
Investigation shows that the issue of missing results affects the institution’s law faculty in many of the study centres including the ones in Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Akure, and Abuja.
A student of the institution who is also studying law at Ibadan centre, Bunmi Olabode, said eight of his results were also missing.
Olabode said officials at the centre had neither told them what caused the problem nor what to do about it. He said the affected students had only been told to write letters to the institution’s head office in Lagos, stating their problems.
He said that they were yet to get response to their letters.
Olabode said, “After our repeated complaints at the Ibadan centre, we were told to write letters and state the issues affecting us and that they would be forwarded to the head office for due consideration. But since last October when we wrote the letters, we are yet to get any response from Lagos.
“Some of us who went to the head office in Lagos were directed back to our various study centres. So far, the school officials are tossing us from left to right and vice versa. We are confused; we don’t know what else to do.”
At Abeokuta centre, the story is the same for some law students.
A student, Damilola, said the situation was worsened by the fact that many NOUN students were workers seeking to take advantage of the school’s flexibility to improve on their education.
She said, “It means that many of us do not have the luxury of time to be going to the (NOUN) head office in Lagos to try to sort out the issue. Each time we complain, the officials here tell us to go to Lagos. But it’s not easy to leave our jobs and go to Lagos. There is even no guarantee that the issue will be sorted out in Lagos; so one might end up sleeping there.”
Similarly, Ademola Adetayo, who wrote to The PUNCH, said out of the eight examination papers he sat for last October, the school declared “three results missing”.
Students of the institution write computer-based and written examinations, depending on their level. Only students from 300 to 500 levels do written examinations.
Initially, the school only tested students using computer-based examinations.
But two years ago, the National Universities Commission mandated the school to introduce written examinations to test students’ writing abilities.
Tuition fee for students ranges from N15,000 to N20,000, depending on the programme, while registration costs N3,000 per course.
In addition to these, students are required to pay N1,000 as examination fee for each course.
Undergraduate students are required to write tutor-marked assignments which make up 30 per cent of the total for each course while the end-of-semester examination covers for the remaining 70 per cent.
According to the students, the missing results are mostly for written examinations, which are not marked by centre facilitators.
Meanwhile, Damilola is already considering re-writing the examinations with missing results to save herself the trouble of having to shuttle between Abeokuta and Lagos to secure their release.
She said, “I’m already considering re-writing the examinations of the affected courses. This will mean paying more money but it appears I don’t have another option with the way the issue is going. Courses have points and each student must have 120 points to graduate.
“The school is silent on the issue and we are the ones who will be affected. Since I want to graduate at the appropriate time, I might have to re-write the examinations.”
In the absence of an official statement, the affected students suspect that the collation of the examination results of the school’s large number of students has overwhelmed its officials.
Olabode said, “The school has over 100,000 students and the collation of results is centralised and done at the head office in Lagos. We believe this has overwhelmed the workers there, so they are doing whatever they like.
“There is a limit to what people can do if the workload is huge. Some of our results might be missing because of this reason. Most of the examinations that have this issue are the written ones, so the problem is common among 300 and 500 level students.”
However, our correspondent could not reach the Director, Media and Information for NOUN, Dr. Ronke Ogunmakin, who was said to be unavailable and would remain indisposed for weeks.
A man in her office, who identified himself as Abiodun, and was standing in for her, said he was unauthorised to comment on the issue. He, however, directed our correspondent to the Dean, Faculty of Law, Prof. Justus Sokefun.
Our correspondent got an appointment with Sokefun a week later, but he also declined to comment on the issue.
“I would have addressed the issues but I can’t speak on matters that concern the school without the permission of the Vice-Chancellor (Prof. Vincent Tenebe). I will talk to you if you can get permission from his office saying I can speak with you,” he said.
However, Tenebe was said to be in a meeting which would run into the night when our correspondent went to his office.
His secretary said she didn’t know when he would be available.
Meanwhile, at the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Nebath Tanglang, an official who addressed our correspondent on his behalf, said, “The DVC said he cannot talk about the issue. He said you should bring a letter and take it to the VC’s office.”
Eventually our correspondent was able to reach Tenebe on the phone and he blamed the students for the problem of missing results in the school.
He said, “This is a university but unfortunately, some of our students don’t obey the rules. Instead of writing their examination numbers, some of them write their registration numbers. Only students who make such mistakes have ssues. We have been cases where two students would write the same number and such results have to be deferred until they are sorted out. If the cases are properly reported, we have a formula of tracking such results.
“But the truth is that you will still see cases of one or two missing results in all universities all over the world. This issue comes up every time in our meetings. Most of the problems have been sorted out and are still being sorted out.”
Interestingly, Tenebe said it was wrong for any of the school’s study centre directors to ask students to write letters to the head office.
“Any centre director that says that doesn’t deserve to work with us. Centre directors know the procedure to follow and all our data is centralised, so our results are not difficult to trace. If the results are not found, students will have to re-write the examinations,” he said. (Punch)