By: Yusuff, Uthman Adekola

It is a common saying that one can only forcefully take a horse to a river, but can hardly make it drink against its will. This saying, despite its widespread usage and believability, has however become deconstructed in different real life cases. I have grown to realise that the horse could be pushed, wholly, into the river and thus made to become helpless. By consequence, the horse would have to drink the water, even more than it would have steadily drunk supposing it had initially been cooperative.

A similitude of the above illustration is the most recent issue currently playing out in University of Ibadan. This recent development is one that observably seems not to have fallen in most, if not all, of the students’ receptive shoulders. A number of students have shrugged off this issue but have only done so through muttering and exchanging opinions with their fellow students and sympathisers alike. In clear terms, the information making the rounds about the second semester resumption date, which is actually clashing with some exams scheduled to hold in that same week, is the bone of contention in this discourse.
It is as clear as daylight that the set date for resumption would be quite unfavourable for many a student, me inclusive. It cannot be more confoundingly amusing that the same day I, as a case study, will write my final exam for the first semester marks the date of resumption for the second semester— Monday, 3rd September, 2018. And, this, I find non-positive for my state of mind, since I am ultimately forced to have a shared thought focus— on both of the staring first semester final paper and the knocking, second semester resumption— which only leads to sheer discomfort to the psyche. Of course, this feeling seems to be common to some other students.

It should be noted that the Vice Chancellor has on 27th August, 2018, released a statement, through his Facebook wall, wherein he says, amongst others: ‘Without prejudice to the fact that there were minor changes to the Examination Time-Table on account of the public holidays declared by the Federal Government last week, kindly note that lectures for the Second Semester will commence on Monday, 3rd September, 2018.’

On the basis of the foregoing, therefore, has it become necessary to sample the opinions of UI students’, in a bid to know their pent-up thoughts and, so, seek improvement where necessary. Below is a set of responses to a recent vox populi conducted using WhatsApp Messenger:
A 300 level student of the Department of English, Gbadegesin Olamide, has this to say:
‘In as much as I agree with the school management on the basis that academic activities should be accelerated since we are behind our normal academic schedule, yet attention should be paid to the well being of student. Many students are just starting to recover from the hectic, mind and body engaging and stressful concluded exams(even though some are still writing). I opine that the break should be extended by the management for two weeks more. This is essential so that students will come back fresh and healthy, also emotional and mental breakdown will be avoided. Speed is essential, but good health is indispensable.’

Another student, also a 300 level student of English but who sought anonymity, responded thus:
‘Actually, from my own perspective, it’s for our own benefit because the VC is trying to meet up with the actual standard of the calendar in relation to the school activities. However, it would have been better if he had consulted other faculties to fasten up their exams before the scheduled date.’

A 300 level student of Political Science, Nola Maruf Gbadebo, submitted that:
‘It’s an unwelcome idea, but the power structure in this path and part of the world is just like that. Orders from top to bottom, you know, relationship here between the oga at the top and perhaps other members of the community are asymmetrical in nature. So in other words, the management may be right in a way. But however, all work without play, they said, makes Jack a dull boy, in essence the psychological and physical aspect of students should also be considered as well. Given the strenuous and energy-sapping moment exam period used to be for we students.’
Atanda Abdulrahman, a 300 level student of Library, archival and Information Studies said:
‘Concerning the resumption date, I think it’s good like that since we are trying to normalize our academic calendar. I feel the faculties still writing exams are kinda extravagant. I don’t know why they have to shift their exams that far; maybe cause of logistics but I think there is nothing bad with the resumption date.’
A 500 level student of the Department of Animal Science, who also sought anonymity, opined:
‘I think the reason is that they don’t want to extend the calendar. As for those that are still writing exam, next week should be lecture free for them.’
Salako Richard, a 300 level student of English, replied thus:
‘I think the stress of a continuous but rigorous semester and the nature of the recently concluded examinations have made the date of resumption for second semester seem unfair and improbable. Most students will not prepare to resume on the scheduled day but give themselves at least, a week of break and relaxation before another thirteen weeks of supposed hell. Yet, I am not very averse to this date, not because I am not stressed and do not need even two months break myself, but because I will get to finish my programme in UI without further delay.’

A 200 level student of History, who simply identified himself as Ade, posited:
‘We had a lot of breaks last session and it cause a lot, the session lapse to this year which is not supposed to be so. We are just repaying for the last year lapse. Tho it not quite good we have to resume and exam is not yet concluded, It will later be of a good impact at the end of the year, when we will finish exams before December festive holidays. And if we don’t resume September 3 we may have to come back in January to continue second semester exams.’

A 300 level student of Religious Studies, who sought an anonymous response, said this:
‘I think the scheduled date for resumption is unfair to students that still have exams…I understand the fact that the VC is trying his best so that we won’t waste time…but resuming that early will not tell well on the students…we all need rest from all this… at least 2 weeks to get our mental balance and be okay psychologically’

A 400 level student of English, Duru Daniel, stated:
‘The resumption date came to me as a shock because I was expecting a week or so for break. It’s really funny that the VC is congratulating students for concluding the 2017/18 first semester examination while some of us still have one to two papers to go. It’s really depressing that the school management is not putting into consideration the shift in exam date by different departments especially that of the Faculty of Arts. For example it is known that there will be salah break (it’s mandatory) why did some departments fix exams on those days? Exams that should be done within two weeks are being elongated into 3-4 weeks. There is loads of work to do concerning students welfare in this University than rushing the whole school calendar. For instance few of students don’t have any break because we are even writing exam into the new semester. Things shouldn’t be done like this… There should be proper planning and consideration of how the planning affect all bodies involved.’
A student who sought complete anonymity opined:
‘I feel personally that the departments are at fault. For instance my department postponed the exams for one week after the sallah break. My take on the resumption is that its a bit fair as it enable us the opportunity to finish our exams before the Christmas break. Ex. Last semester I had to rush back to school for exam on the 4th or 5th and it impacted badly on my exams but this time around we’d be done with exams and resumption next session would be a blast’

Now, considering the gathered responses above, one can, to a considerable extent, conclude that a number of students really do wish they could catch some rest before resumption. For record’s sake, whether anyone said that the decision on the resumption date is good or bad is not the subject of focus here. The fact that most of the respondents have pointed out the usual stressful and rigorous activities that characterise examination periods is much noteworthy. The need for adequate rest especially upon the end of an exam period is one that is quite unnegotiable.

Moreover, it would be better to have, at least, a week break after the examination activities which are going to fully end in the first week of September. By that, the exams slated to be written in that same first week of September would become absolved of the inter-semester clash or collision. Thereby, everybody and particularly the ones who are going to conclude their exams between September 1st and 7th would rest assured that they could enjoy a few days of a sense of relief from the almost enervating pangs of examination.
On this basis, therefore, does this article seek to appeal to the management to consider and ensure that, at least, a week be given as the first semester break. It is true that certain industrial actions and public holidays have negatively affected the sorely needed smooth flow of the academic calendar. It is however still of great importance that the students, amongst which I belong, enjoy adequate mental and physical rest, in preparation for a new semester.


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