This letter was Written and sent to schoolwatch.com.ng by Andrew Adedoyin
SIR: The screening exercise for fresh undergraduates recently carried out by the authorities of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) left much to be desired. There is no gainsaying that the institution is an attraction to many students from within and outside the shores of the nation. It has also made its mark among the tertiary institutions in the country, which belong to the old generation.
I am inclined to suppose that the institution enjoy to a great extent, the monopoly of deciding on the manner and pattern of conducting the process of screening fresh students offered admission. Such policy, however should consider the safety and security of the students. From the admission stage, students had to shuttle Cybercafés to access information about screening which could have been better communicated through text messages via SMS. This made many fresh students to be late for the screening exercise.
As a concerned parent, I particularly frown at the mode of screening. The students were required to be on campus for about three weeks to carry out the exercise. This was started with completion of form online to presentation of photocopies and originals of their credentials for sighting followed by payment of relevant fees and to enrolment as the final stage.
The exercise was faulty because none of them could be carried out without being physically present on campus. I took some of the officials up on why it was not deferred till the students resume when accommodation for them could have been secured. The answers were not encouraging: UNILAG authorities did not want to admit students with deficient results; besides, it was a way of teaching them to stand on their own. What a hard way!
The policy of the institution provides for admission of qualified candidate with a minimum age of 16 years old. At such a juvenile age, Nigerian law does not allow that they be accommodated in a hotel as a guest. They were not even entitled to travel by air unaccompanied. UNILAG however wanted them to come for the exercise without their parents. A pertinent question one may ask is, is the school meant for only people within Lagos State?
As my son went to some of the designated centres for the screening, I observed some hostility in the eyes of the officials. Before you blink your eyes, he was requested to present a document which he had to go back to internet to produce; before he returned they had decided to call it a day. This is the plight of almost all of them. No amount of pleading would make such student not to come back the following day for the same thing which he was not sure would be accepted.
The policy was not friendly. Such exercise should consider the interest of those who are not resident in Lagos and who probably have no relations in the city. At best it should be carried out only at the resumption of the students. If online screening should precede the physical aspect it should be all-embracing and adequate until the students resume.
The institution may also wish to consider approving overtime allowances for all staff who would be engaged in the exercise during screening. It looks absurd and intimidating that after a child had stood on queue for a long time, he is greeted with stern directive of come tomorrow. And these would be from officials who would not start the day’s work until 11 am. University of Lagos should please refrain from stressing fresh students with harsh policy in future.
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