SPECIAL REPORT: Learning at a cost: How DE students brace nightmares to acquire education in Nigerian Universities

By Ekpali Saint

When Okeke Juliet learnt she had been offered provisional admission to study Public Administration and Local Government at University of Nigeria (UNN), she drove into celebration. Okeke smiled, laughed, thanked God, and freely displayed her white dentition for willing eyes to see – all in celebration.

Her hope grew astronomically, and euphoria was not left out – it grew, too.

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Having come in through direct entry, Okeke hoped to begin her studies from 200 level, skipping all 100 level course works, especially, the General Study courses. But the University’s system failed her. Her hope was dashed. Crushed.

Direct Entry (DE) admission is different from JAMB UTME admission. According to JAMB rules, a candidate must possess, at least, A’level certificate, Ordinary National Diploma (OND) or National Certificate in Education (NCE) to be offered DE admission; and the admitted students should start from 200 level. It was on this premise, Okeke built her hope.

But she was all wrong.

Expressing her disappointment in a chat with Crispng, she complained that the number of courses they offer from both first and second years are too much. Receiving lectures from the two classes is not tranquil, in short, “it is difficult”, she said.

“It is always stressful for us DE students. We have to offer some courses with 100 level; courses we have done before, including GS courses. It is too much for us.”

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She complained that there is no special class for direct entry students. “we go for lectures in either 200 or 100 level classrooms, combining the two is stressful”, Okeke cried out.

“It is always stressful for us DE students. We have to offer some courses with 100 level; courses we have done before, including GS courses. It is too much for us.”

The initial euphoria that enveloped her fizzled out when these tales of disappointment came knocking. However, Juliet is not alone in the struggle. From DE students in almost all the Departments in the University, the tales seem unchanged.

Lamenting on the issue from Economics Department, Iriele Chukwuemelie said, “before coming to this school, I never knew I will start from the scratch as a first year student. Even my admission letter said I have been offered a three-year course. As such, it is one of the experiences I will never forget in my life. I would have forfeited the admission, but because I have paid, it will be difficult to get my money back. But the truth is, I can’t stop feeling bad, for it has taken a year in my life”.

Iriele, however, quipped that there is no difference between a student that came through Direct Entry and JAMB UTME. The two, he said, automatically become 100 level students, no matter the means of entry, in the department of Economics, emphasising that “without those first year courses, you can never be successful in economics department”.

The only difference between the two is that, “I already have a certificate from polytechnic before applying for a degree programme here”, he added.

Adding to the discomfort is the agony of losing on both sides whenever lectures clash. “It is always traumatic”.

“When we complained”, according to Okeke, “the department said they cannot do anything. In short, there is no way GS courses can be shifted because of departmental courses. But we are privileged to leave for another class when we take permission”.

The climax of their dissatisfaction is the humiliation they suffer most times when they try sitting with 100 level students.

While commenting on this, Okeke said, “the 100 level feels they are in the same class with the DE, especially those that claim to be knowledgeable than others will always refuse to answer them whenever they ask for anything”.

“When we complained”, according to Okeke, “the department said they cannot do anything. In short, there is no way GS courses can be shifted because of departmental courses. But we are privileged to leave for another class when we take permission”.

Findings by Crispng reveals the situation at the University of Nigeria in the southeast is not different from others universities in the country. At the University of Benin (UNIBEN) in the south-south, and University of Lagos (UNILAG) in the south-west, there seems to be a consensus on the plight of the DE students, as the students who spoke to Crispng unwrapped their experiences which are similar to the experiences of Juliet Okeke and Iriele Chukwuemelie at UNN.

Like Juliet Okeke, it is also a tale of disappointment from Ekhueorohan Timothy, a 400 level mass communication student of UNIBEN.  Although he devised a strategy to swim through the murky river, it was at a cost.

“Though I was happy when I got admission, but I don’t know what I will meet. I was having classes with lower level and they were clashing with my class, especially GST. But I bought text books and read without going for the class, even for once because they were always clashing.

“I suffered humiliation both from students and lecturers. Lecturers feel I was showing myself. Because I remembered when I corrected a lecturer in the class, the lecturer almost punished me so I started keeping quiet.

“Just like the blacks going to school in western part, it will be difficult. This is the case with DE students. We suffered a lot from students, even election time, they will make sure DE don’t get post”,  he lamented.

For Ladejobi Oluwakemi, a second year student of European Languages and Integrated Studies and his fellow direct entry students at  UNILAG, the story may not entirely be that of humiliation and clashes of lectures, like in the case of  Timothy, but a far more worrisome one – shelter.

“The school fail to provide accommodation for us, which is posing great challenge to us”,  Ladejobi complained.

“The school fail to provide accommodation for us, which is posing great challenge to us”

It, indeed, takes a great deal of mental sturdiness, and unshakable focus to withstand the storm of studying in Nigerian Universities as a Direct Entry student. It is only with these qualities you would be able to speak like Timothy who said: “It has not been easy as a DE student, but am used to it.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. So sad that all in the name of education one has to pass through hell. Sigh! The agony of a determined student. That’s it. With determination, one will definitely pass through and all will be once upon a time. Be Focus!

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