By Temi OHAKWE, Abuja.
CONFUSION rented the air Wednesday morning at the Wuse 2 centre of the National Open University (NOUN) when students were denied the opportunity of sitting for the examinations as scheduled.
Witnesses stated that officials of the university at the centre shut students out of the exam halls due to unknown reasons, despite their fulfilment of all obligations to participate in what was final exams for most of them.
Narrating their experiences, students said the institution had created 30 minutes extra in previous semester examinations, for them to arrive and settle in before the commencement of their papers.
“Opposite is the case for this semester exam, as it is I arrived here at exactly 8 am and I watched them locked the gate against me,” laments Sadiyat Abdullahi a student who did not indicate her course of study.
“In fact, two students struggled their ways inside while the NOUN officials were still locking the gate, this is not fair because no prior information was made available on this.”
The students alleged that the NOUN authorities were using the opportunity to extort money from them, expressing worry that the development would make a number of them to re-register for another semester.
“We were not notified at all, of this latest development, I feel it is a reason to raise money, this is no more an open university,” said another student who gave her name as Judith Patrick.
“It is no longer work and learn university, I got to the gate 8:01 am I was not allowed, there is more to this than we can see, they are using us to raise money for the government,” said the 55-year-old civil servant.
Our reporter who was present at the scene of the events said after one hour into the Wednesday first paper, the NOUN authorities eventually pasted a short notice at the gate informing students of the strict adherence to the exam schedule and time.
The notice stated that all students are expected to be seated in the examination hall 30 minutes before the exams.
The students who got lucky to sit for the exam said no COVID-19 protocol was observed as they were filed into the examination without proper check.
“I was surprised that we were that much exposed to Coronavirus, I thought we will have hand sanitisers available for us to use but after passing the gate we all were on our own,” said Ezekiel Faponmile, another student.
The NOUN had conducted a part of its examination online for students who opted for the online exams during the COVID-19 lockdown, while others who preferred paper and pencil commenced theirs on Monday, September 14.
Visiting the Abuja Model Study Centre at Dutse Alhaji, students’ experience was not the same as some were observed strolling into the exam hall by 8:15 am.
There is an existing law guiding students’ arrival before exam- Director of Media
However, Ibrahim Sheme, Director of Media at the National Open University said he’s not aware of the incident, but that the university had an existing law that requested students sitting for exams to arrive one hour before their exams.
Quoting the rule of the university that states that students must arrive an hour before the exam starts, Sheme claimed that only a few were affected,” they know they have violated the examination rules.”
He said contrary to students’ claims of 30 minutes extra time between the scheduled exam time and its commencement, the university had never given room to such instance.
The Director of Media further stated that in the 75 centres across the nation where the examination is presently taking place, no student is allowed into the hall in a minute late.
He said the protesting students have no right to play victimhood.
“I don’t know about that, the rule as I know long before this exam started is that you must arrive an hour before exam time, all candidates must arrive,” he said.
“For exam that will start at 8:am, you cannot arrive 8:01 am, I don’t know anywhere, where a 30minutes rule of extra time is applied, students are meant to be in the hall before the exam started
“So if they come before the exam started, they don’t have the right to play victimhood and say they were not given a grace period to enter the examination hall, they know and this period we communicated to them long before the exams started,” Sheme explained.
“NOUN organises exam every year, you must be in the hall long before the exams start, for somebody to say they were given 30minutes grace in previous exams I have never heard of that one,
This is an examination taking place in more than 75 centres across why is it only in Wuse 2 centre, it’s not practical, it’s not possible if people break the rule for an examination they should bear responsibility for not adhering to the rule, it’s not about the COVID- 19 protocol.”
On the allegation of using the incident to extort money from students, following the obvious that the students would have to re-register for the exam in another semester, Sheme stated that it was untrue and that the NOUN would not descend so low to raise revenue by denying students opportunity to write their exams.
“The NOUN will not descend that low to raising revenue by denying candidates to sit for exams, it does not apply and it cannot be,” he argued.
He noted that “people are playing the victim knowing that they have breached the regulation, adding, “They should just take responsibility for it.”