Hayatullahi Folorunsho Mudathir writes,
Abeeb Olalekan Adisa secured admission to study Business Administration, a four-year course, at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS) in 2018, and he envisioned graduating by 2022. However, because of the recurrent strikes of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Covid-19 pandemic that struck in 2020, alongside other students UDUS admitted for four-year courses in 2018, Adisa remains an undergraduate until date.
When the 2020/2021 academic session ended in February 2023, in tune with the academic calendar, the thought of graduating in 2023 preoccupied Adisa’s mind. He was optimistic that March 20, 2023, as slated [in the same calendar] for the commencement of the 2022/2023 merged academic session, was feasible. Thus, he projected the session to last, at most, until November.
Alas! His hope shattered when another date of resumption appeared on the tentative academic calendar for the 2022/23 session. The figures clearly extended his graduation to 2024.
On Tuesday, March 14, 2023, the University Academic Planning Unit unveiled a proposed academic calendar for the 2022/2023 academic session, for the Senate’s consideration. The calendar earmarked the start of the new session on Monday, April 3, 2023, to last through Saturday, February 10, 2024. UDUS students haven’t been able to ignore the 10-month proposed calendar, which has been circulating on social media platforms, as it carried the signature of the Acting Director of the University’s Academic Planning Unit, Dr K. G. Muhammad.
“The calendar is not okay at all! Despite all the years wasted on the Covid-19 pandemic and the ASUU strike that lingered for months! I’ve been here since 2018 for a four-year course. This is my fifth year already. [I’ve been] thinking that I will graduate this year, and this long calendar is being brought when my mates in other schools have graduated already. It is too long!,” Adisa lamented.
“The management should please reduce the weeks of activities in the calendar and we shall appreciate them for that, if done,” he appealed.
Adisa is just one of the many UDUS students who have expressed displeasure over the proposed academic calendar. And they have been chewing prayers and pleas for an adjustment. Some have also suggested ways around it.
More Troubles of UDUS Students
Reacting to the widespread calendar, Habeebat Abdullahi Abiodun, a sophomore of Education and Chemistry, stressed that the calendar should be shortened because academic activities were disrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak and the recent ASUU strike that lingered for eight months.
“I am not okay with the calendar because it is too slow/long and full of holidays that can be scrapped,” she complained, suggesting that the calendar be adjusted, “at least, to the like of last semester’s calendar”.
Toheeb Ayinde Raji, a student at the Linguistics Department, told PEN PRESS that the proposed calendar has dampened his spirit.
“I’m not okay with the calendar. In fact, I’m sad with it because it shows lack of improvement in our academia despite all the lessons we’ve learnt over the years. Coronavirus and ASUU strikes put Federal Universities behind while our mates in other schools that we started together are now working class people. These are evident enough to [convince the management to] restrategize and not waste the lives and time of the students,” he lamented.
Raji added that the longevity of the calendar may result to negative reactions from students and low turn out when school reopens for the new session.
“Making the calendar long does not guarantee seriousness amongst students, but promotes absenteeism. And since the calendar is not encouraging to most of the students, I’m sure many of them will stay at home until half of the semester is gone,” he added.
“UDUS should please review this calendar. I don’t think the lecture period should be up to 13 weeks as slated. 10 weeks is okay. And there should no be mid-semester break. Students don’t need that since we are going to observe all the public holidays. They are enough for us.
“Also, the management should adopt the calendar method of other Federal Universities like UNIABUJA or UNILORIN. These two schools are good examples for us to emulate when we talk of academic calendars,” he furthered.
“I’m not cool with the calendar at all! It is too long. So far, we all know that both the academic program and the weather of Sokoto are strict. Spending that many months per semester is like a snail crawling on a salty land,” Ola Sulyman, a student at the Faculty of Arts, expressed his dissatisfaction.
“Mid-semester break should please be cancelled. Semester break also should be 2 weeks, not 3, because of convocation and for final year students to meet up with the NYSC mobilization. We are seriously behind, we need to catch up with our mates in other universities,” Haruna Goni, a student of English and Literary Studies, suggested.
Goni’s coursemate, Maryam Omowumi Soliu, related her dissatisfaction and appealed to the management for swift changes on the calendar before approval. She stressed that breaks should be removed from the academic calendar so as to make the program run swiftly.
In her words, “I will be glad if the management can reduce the 4 weeks of examinations to 3 weeks. The 4 weeks is too much. Also, there are schools that run ‘semester continue’, I suggest UDUS should also adopt that and let us continue the second semester immediately after the first semester examinations. It will be favorable if these are done and I really hope and plead that the management makes the adjustments on the calendar as swiftly as possible before the senate’s approval.”
“Considering the amount of years that have been wasted on different unwanted holidays. The management should kindly do another calendar that will cover a maximum of 8 months for the whole session so that we can meet up with our mates in other universities,” Rodiah Qozeem, a Pure Chemistry student, also implored the management.
“We have submitted our observations to the management”—SU-CTC Chairman
The Students’ Union Caretaker Committee Chairman, Shamsudeen Umar Muhammed, told PEN PRESS that the union has intervened and since the circulating calendar is not the approved one, students should await the approved calendar from the senate.
When asked about the fate of the student should the circulating proposed calendar get the Senate’s approval without any adjustments, he replied that he cannot say anything on that.
“We have also observed and we have submitted our observations to the management. So we are waiting for the management’s reaction on that,” he said.
However, the CTC chairman remains mum on what observations the union submitted to the school management.
“It was even the reduced calendar you saw”— Dean, Student Affairs
When PEN PRESS contacted the Dean of Student Affairs, Prof. Umar Aliyu, he admitted that he shared the students’ concern over the protracted academic calendar.
“It was even the reduced one you saw. Many of us had to complain during the management meeting that the calendar was too lengthy because it read almost 7 months for first semester. So, we objected it before it was reduced to that level. Yet, I’m of the same opinion with you people.
“The management’s reason is because of the new intakes’ registration and for every student to have enough time to complete their registration,” he explained.
Reacting to complaints over the proposed 13-week duration for lectures, the dean maintained that the minimum lecture duration is 12 weeks, noting that, “even if there will be reduction in lectures weeks, it would only be a week reduction”.
“I was unable to attend the senate meeting because of some other engagements. So, I cannot say this is what will be the outcome of the meeting, it’s only the academic planning unit that can release the final calendar as approved by the senate. We should all just wait and see what they will do,” he concluded, urging students to be patient.