The Central Library of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS) has literally shifted to the bush as students write their first semester Examination. The ongoing Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) strike has made the library inconducive for study.
The uncontrolled movement of students in and out of the library has made it rowdy.
To escape from the noise, some students are going into the bush to read.
When CAMPUSLIFE visited the savannah behind the Halls of Residence, it saw students sitting on mats and studying quietly at various spots in the open area. Except for the chirping of birds and sound of the wind, the students said they found the environment serene for studying.
The NASU strike has virtually paralysed academic and other activities. Many students did not expect the examination to start soon and the release of the timetable caught them unawares.
It has been hectic for returning students, as continuous assessment tests and examinations are being conducted simultaneously.
Students troop to library and classrooms to read during the day and the night. Others, who cannot cope with the rowdiness in the library and classrooms, find solace in the bush.
Some students, who spoke with CAMPUSLIFE, said they went to the bush because of its proximity to their hostels, compared to their classrooms and the library which are far from the Halls of Residence.
A 200-Level English Language student, Immaculate Audu, said she assimilated better in a serene environment like the bush.
“I don’t like going to classrooms to read because they are far away from the hostel. More so, classes are always noisy. I like total silence if I must assimilate what I am reading and I get that in the bush serenity. Although there are flies and other insects, you can’t compare the peace in the bush with the rowdiness we have in the classroom or library,” she said.
Another 200-Level Microbiology student, Aulatu Salisu, said she is easily distracted by side discussions. She said she easily loses concentration on her studies in a noisy environment; the reason she chose to go into the bush to read.
She said: “The tranquility in the bush is favourable for studying. I will continue to read in this open space till after the examination. It is quiet and peaceful. This is better than the situation we have in classrooms and library where students engage in needless discussion. I would be distracted in those places. Besides, the distance between the hostel and academic area makes me stay here.”
She urged the Students’ Union Government (SUG) officials to collaborate with the management to clear the bush and make it more comfortable for reading.
A 200-Level Chemistry Education student, Rebecca Musa, said disruptive noises in classrooms and their distance from the hostel made her to read in the bush.
“Honestly, the distance to classrooms is discouraging. The time I will waste to trek to the classroom would have been used to read several pages of my notes. I can read anywhere, whether it is noisy or not.
“But, I don’t believe in wasting time. I read in the bush when I don’t have much time to trek. I stay in classroom to read when I am around the academic area,” Abubakar Abdullahi, a 200-Level Physics student, said.
Rebecca Musa, who wrote continuous assessment test and examination simultaneously, protested the situation, saying the semester was disorganised. She blamed it on lecturers’ laziness, noting that all tests should have been concluded four weeks before the examination.
“This semester is disorganised. We didn’t have enough time for lectures and reading. I will advise the school to adopt orderliness so that students’ energy won’t be overstretched,” she said.
Aulatu also complained, saying: “It is very bad that nobody shows any concern in the management. Many of us are stressed outright now, because we have been made to write tests during examinations. I had two tests on Friday, one on Saturday and three papers next week. There is another test on Thursday and examination on Friday. How do they expect us to cope?”
Rahmat Alabi, a 400-Level Adult Education and Extension Service student, said writing test during examination was becoming a norm in the school.
She said: “Although it is not a recent phenomenon, it is becoming a norm in UDUS and I don’t see anyone changing it. We have seen lecturers starting their examinations weeks before the timetable is released. After lectures, they would give assignments and still conduct tests in short period. They don’t give students time to read and prepare for anything. It is that bad. I expect the school to prevail on these lecturers to stop the practice.”
Ibrahim Usman Bature, a 400-Level Chemistry student, blamed his colleagues for not reading ahead of the examination. “We know that it is a practice in the school to hold examination and test in the same period. As students, we should be ahead of the game. If any student fails, he carries the burden himself, not the school,” he said.
When the timetable was released by the school’s Examination Committee, 100-Level students were excluded. The decision, according to the committee, was to compensate for the delay in releasing admission lists; a problem said to be caused by the new Joint Admission Matriculation board (JAMB) policy.
Considering the challenges faced by freshers, the committee extended lectures for 100-Level students only for five weeks, after which they are expected to write examination within six days. This decision is being trailed by mixed feelings.
Blessing Omahu, a 100-Level Agriculture student, said the extension could result in mass failure, wondering how the school expected students to sit for more than 10 papers in six days.
She said: “There is no doubt the first semester is short, but the school should have allowed us to start the examination with our senior colleagues. Extending the lecture is not in anyone’s interest, because many lecturers have almost completed their courses’ outlines. Going by the timetable, 10 courses will be written in just six days. It is going to be a marathon examination for us and many may fail.”
Ismail Zubairu pleaded with the school management to change its decision, expressing worries over the duration of the examination.
He said: “Ever since I heard the news, I have been worried about the way and manner the exercise would be arranged. It would definitely be choking. I plead with the school to reconsider the decision and extend duration to about two weeks to allow us prepare for our papers.”
Reacting, Dean of Students’ Affair (DSA), Prof Adamu Aliero, urged the 100-Level students not to panic about the five-week extension. According to him, the school would look into the possibility of conducting examination for freshers in six days. The examination timetable, the DSA said, may be extended to two weeks.
On the simultaneous conduct of tests and examinations, the DSA blamed it on the students, saying most of them refused to return to school four weeks after the school announced resumption.
He said: “Returning students caused the challenges they are facing themselves. When the school resumed, many students refused to return, not until after four weeks. During this period, only a few lectures were held. If the students want their lecturers to stop conducting tests during examination, they must resume on the date announced by the school.”
Prof Aliero said the school would henceforth, be firm on registration, adding that any student, who failed to register after registration would be asked to defer for a session. He warned that the school would no longer tolerate late resumption.