By: Abiodun Jamiu

Management and students of the Usmanu Dan Fodio University (UDU), Sokoto, are trading words over the mass failure in General Studies (GST). The students claimed that the GST Unit mishandled the course. The management blamed the failure on the students’ indifference. ABIODUN JAMIU, UDUS 200-L Political Science, reports.

As they always do, the Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University (UDU), Sokoto students were at the General Studies (GST) notice board where information and sometimes results are pasted. They were checking their names on the list of students who did not sit for the GST continuous assessment (CA) across various levels during the second semester of 2017/2018 academic year.
To the chargrin of many who sat for the continuous assessment, their names were on the list. By implication, students with no CA records have automatically failed.

More interesting was that some students, who came to mock their colleagues who failed, were shocked to discover that they were also victims.

The 100-Level students write GST102 (Nigerian people and culture); GST 103 (Information and Communication Technology); GST105 (Communication in French) and GST106 (Communication in Arabic). For 200 Level students there are courses such as GST211 (Communication in English ll) and GST214 (Peace and Conflict Resolution); while the 300-Level undergraduates sit for GST312 (Venture Creation and Growth).

As practised in other institutions, UDU students undertake GST that are multi-disciplinary in nature, covering Philosophy, Science, Social Sciences, and Citizenship Education, among others.

But many students expressed disappointment over repeated failures in GST– a development they blamed on the alleged shoddy manner the division handles its affairs.
Nonetheless, the school’s management has absolved itself, blaming the situation on students’ I-don’t-care-attitude towards GST.
One of the victims, a 200-Level student of Political Science, Umar Sheriff, lamented what he described as the school’s ‘negligence’, adding that it would affect his hope of getting a better result in his first year.

Like every other ‘Danfodite’, Sheriff recalled how he had burnt the midnight candle ahead of GST examination; yet, his results were not commensurate with the efforts he had invested.
Aggrieved, Sheriff along with other students in his shoes, approached the GST Director of General Studies, Dr Farouk Tambuwal, who assured via the secretary of the unit that the matter would be resolved.
“Quite a number of us met the secretary, who told us that since the students involved in the mix-up were many, the division would certainly find a way out. Even with the promise by the secretary, when the results were released, I saw “F” on my GST102 (Nigerian people and Culture),” Sheriff said.
Sherrif’s claim was substantiated by Eeboade Hassan, another 200-Level Law undergraduate, who bemoaned the manner the test was conducted.
“The test? It was not in any way formally and accurately conducted,” Hassan said, adding: “The question sheet provided was the same on which we were to put down the answers. Moreover, the pages were not attached. So, we were the one attaching the pages with a broomstick.”

Hassan said he anticipated erroneous markings due to the numerous answer scripts that were loose after the test was written. According to him, the unattached papers may have caused the mix-up.
He continued: “Right from that day (the day the test was conducted), I presumed that there would be errors in the process of marking the scripts. But the “F” was actually outside my thinking, I was shocked.
“The error was from the division. During the process of computing results of the test, they made mistakes with people’s names. Names were alphabetically disorganised, some with their admission number. For instance, instead of 000 of my admission number, they only put double zero,” he lamented.”

Asked what steps he took when he saw his name on the list, Hassan said he went to the head of the GST Division who acknowledged that the mix-up was theirs and the division would rectify it.
He continued: “At the office of the Exam Officer, the Director, Dr Tambuwal, brought out the comprehensive list of those who sat for the test with the assertion that ‘if I should open this and your name and scores are absent, just forget it, you will carry over this course even if you score 60/60 in the exam’

“We thereafter wrote our correct admission numbers and names after which they accepted the mistakes were theirs. He promised us that proper rectification will be done. But, unfortunately, he never fulfilled his promise. ‘F’ was written on my GST106 (Communication in Arabic)”.
“I had to be sure it was my name. At a point, I started crying because I couldn’t imagine myself having a ‘carry over’ in GST” said another victim, Shadiyah (not real name), who failed GST106, (Communication in Arabic).

Unlike Hassan, Shadiyah didn’t have a premonition of what was to come. She even told CAMPUSLIFE that she would never have admitted her name was on the list if told by her course mates.
“Although I heard students lamenting that they had issues with the GSTs; I wasn’t perturbed. It never occurred to me that my name would feature on the list, until a friend drew my attention to it.”
She continued: “We were attended to that very day, and were told to check if our names were on the comprehensive lists. Some students’ admission numbers were mistyped, just like mine; there was a mix-up in my admission number. Instead of 98, 78 was on the list. After all the complaints, we were all given an “F”. We all knew that without tests, we would all carry the course over.”

Similarly, Ahmad Muhammad Saulawa, a 400-Level Microbiology undergraduate, expressed shock when he saw his name on the list, despite that he even assisted the course coordinator to invigilate the same course. Like Shadiyah, Saulawa’s attention was drawn to the list by a friend.
“I wrote mine in the first batch and after submitting, the lecturer asked me to join her to invigilate the class, and I did,” Saulawa recalled.
“The other batches wrote theirs and I was still there with her (coordinator). I gathered all the test question papers and handed it to her. However, I was shocked when I heard that my name was among those that didn’t sit for the test,” he said.

Saulawa recounted how he later approached the lecturer of the course, who assured him that it was a general problem and that the division would definitely resolve it, adding that the problem had not been resolved as at the time of filing this report.
Beyond the affected students, GST Division in UDUS has been a subject of crisis, especially among students who constantly moan repeated mass failure, missing grades and late release of results, among others.

A student, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, recalled how students performance in GST has declined in recent years. He lamented that GST results were not appealing and not in any way commensurate with students’ efforts.
“GST result in recent time in UDU is not appealing,” the source stated.
He continued: “Students have been recording low grades, which in the long run affect our GP(grade point), if not all. The bitter truth is that it is not that the students are unserious. The problem with the division is the belief that majority of students take the course for granted. It is on this basis that the administration felt the need to be harsh on students with regards to grade.”

However, Maryam Abdullah, a 400-Level student of Modern European Languages and Linguistics (MELL), lauded the result. Unlike previous ones, Abdullah noted that the management’s introduction of computer based test (CBT) made this year’s a lot better.
“Though students seem to complain more about their results, I think these results are better, compared to the previous results from the division,” she added.

But Emelife Uchenna Maximus, a 200 Level Literature in English undegraduate, bemoaned the technical problems that has plagued GST over the years, urging the division to improve on performance to demonstrate more transparency.
“The GST results, I would still say is fair. The division, in the previous session, graded poorly GST 104 of all first years, and took on an overwhelming CBT system that almost led to me missing an examination”

The division should carry out a proper test-run of its CBT to avoid mistakes and technical issues,” Uchenna advised.
Nevertheless, until students learn to be more committed, the mass failure in GST would continue, the management has said.

Speaking with CAMPUSLIFE, UDU Dean, Students’ Affairs, Prof Aminu Mode, expressed dissatisfaction at the nonchalant attitude of students towards GST.
He said: “This (mass failure) is nothing to argue on. The reality is that most of the students do not attend GST lectures.
“For instance, you will find an average GST class of 1000 students, but only 50 or 60 students will attend the class. Throughout the session, there are some students that would never attend GST lectures.

“Why would students not fail when they don’t attend lectures? Students believe, especially in GST courses, that ‘we don’t need to attend lectures to score As or Bs, let me just go and read’ not knowing that what we want as teachers is for them to attend lectures and thereafter challenge us.”

Further, Mode said results in the universities are released subject to consultations with stakeholders before it would be approved by the Senate, adding that no division or faculties can unilaterally fail students. Mode, therefore, urged students to attend lectures promptly as it aids learning and equips them ahead of time.
“Attending lectures reduce a lot of burden on you as a student; you understand better what a lecturer said and at the same time remember how he gestured. Unfortunately, students of nowadays have taken GST courses for granted,” he concluded.

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