Graduate Self Employment (GSE) is a compulsory course for 300L Students of the better by far University, University of Ilorin. At inception, this course was aimed at helping students understand and possibly tap into entrepreneurship opportunities so that they may – if they want to – become self employed upon graduation.
This course, until the 2017/18 academic session had been purely theoretical and most students considered it a waste of time.
The saying that failure to prepare, is to prepare to fail, is not disassociated from UNILORIN, as it had poor preparation before reaching a conclusion that GSE should be made fully practical. The Students’ Union President, ‘Reedof’, revealed recently that the University had plans of charging GSE students ‘#5,000’ as part of their tuition, specifically for the practical of the skill acquisition program each student would embark on. That perhaps would have been a more suitable option, even though the money was a tad too much. Without a substantial means of funding the practical, registration commenced. Students offering the course picked their various skill acquisition programs, even though some of them complained that they were handicapped in their selections, as most of their preferred courses were no longer available for selection. A student of Mass Communication department, Olowoyo Ganeeyah expressed her concern that “if a person decides to pick any one just to fulfil all righteousness, of what use will the certificates be?”
Classes started very late for different skills. The students were left with about four weeks (barely 2 hour in each week) to learn and practice the skills which they opted for. Picture a student learning hairdressing, or refrigerating in 8 – 10 hours. It was in the second week that most of these Students started realizing that the heaven they had been promised was inexistent. Students started complaining about the inhumane treatment by some of their trainers, aided by the fact that some of these trainers did not even have specified facilities for training their students. In some climes, Students were made to pay money to class representatives for materials, as trainers complained about the absence of needed materials from the school. In the middle of aggravated outcry, the Students’ Union ‘interceded’ on behalf of Students. The outcome of the self acclaimed “ever dogged” Unions’ meeting with the University was not well received. Students were mandated to pay #1,000 within 48 hours, and instructors were ‘instructed’ to round up their courses in two weeks. For students who paid money to class representatives – in cash I must add – they were told to come to the Students’ Union Building with proof of payment in order to get their money back. Such wild dreams.
Students took to various social media platforms to express their anger, primarily on the forced payment and its deadline, and by extension, on the course itself. Fadumila Azeezah of the Faculty of Law mentioned that “a program that was meant to start at the beginning of the semester began at the middle of the semester. Not only that, the problem of getting in touch with the trainer arose as the numbers uploaded by the school turned out to be wrong, or the person claiming he isn’t in charge of the program. Another problem was the problem of identifying the venue for the programs and most frustratingly is the lack of funds” Another student, Oladeji Makanjuola of the Faculty of Arts, learning Refrigerating and Air Conditioning lamented that “it is a total waste of precious time. Although my trainer has been trying his best to accommodate all and make things easier, he forgets that those doing the skill are not just engineering students alone. All in all, it’s a beautiful initiative, but it’s coming at the wrong time.”
In reaction to the various lamentations of Students, especially as regards the late hour deadline given to the #1,000 payment, the SU met with the University and came to agreement on new terms. That Students should no longer pay the #1,000 but should instead go and buy the materials themselves, following the instruction of their teachers. Students who had made that payment earlier on were assured of a refund. What about the people who have been paying for practical and materials? And how do you leave your students to the mercy of instructors who may decide that a #8,000,000 tusk of an elephant is what they would need for their practical? The SU President mentioned that “that’s what the students want.” But is that what they need?
The GSE attempt had altogether failed in its pilot at practical, with Students bearing the brunt. Worse still, in the middle of the inconsistencies in continuation of the program, coupled with the other problems which students have been faced with, they will be graded. Why do students always have to be at the receiving end of failed policies? The University authority is enjoined to find a utilitarian solution to the hiccups which their students are faced with; else they stand a risk of massive failure. This of course would not add colour to the image of the better by far institution.