On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, Nigeria was shocked once again by the news of a young undergraduate student of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) that committed suicide. This young man, Emmanuel, took his life by drinking the infamous pesticide, Sniper. The reason Emmanuel saw suicide as the best option available to him is unknown but there were claims that he has severally threatened his mother that he will take his life but she ignored him, thinking he was bluffing. It was also claimed that his mother has not been supporting the young man emotionally because she continued to remind him of how hopeless he was. The sad end of yet another young Nigerian has reminded us once again of the dangers posed by ignoring our mental health.
The painful demise of Emmanuel also brings up another issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. This time, the issue on the table is the undue stress Nigerian tertiary institutions put their students through. You will agree with me, if you schooled in Nigeria, that our tertiary education system is stressful. The system makes it look as if you need to pass through stress to become a better student. From the time of admission to when you graduate, you are expected to endure sufferings that could easily have been abated by the school. They can stress you through your course loads, lack of mental healthcare facilities, and so many others. Sometimes, people don’t look forward to going back to school for further studies because of the stress they were put through while in school.
Why Nigerian Tertiary Institutions are Stressful
- Choice of Course: When you are studying a course of your choice, you will tend to enjoy school the more. But then, many students could not enjoy this privilege because they failed to gain admission into their desired disciplines. Hence, they make do with what they see. The frustrating thing here is that these students have to endure stress for what they have no interest or even know what to do with. This can explain why students drop out of school, especially when they are writing their projects.
- Lack of Mental Care Units: Nigerian tertiary institutions do not seem to understand the importance of their students’ mental healthcare. I don’t know if any of our government-owned tertiary institutions have facilities that oversee their students’ mental wellbeing. If this is an oversight, permit me to say that it is a costly one because it is absurd that, despite putting students through stress, these schools do not make provisions for them to seek help when they become overwhelmed. This issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible before we lose another student to suicide.
- Banning Students’ Social Activities: Most vice chancellors, rectors, and provosts do not allow students to have social lives while in school. Some see this as trivial while others see them as distractions. Unfortunately, some students misuse opportunities availed them to unwind by causing mayhem. Nevertheless, school administrators should endeavour to help students to strike a balance between their academic and social lives; they are both very necessary.
- Delay Tactics: This is commonly seen among lecturers, who deliberately delay the publication of students’ results until it is too late for those that failed those courses to re-write them. Most students have stayed in school longer than necessary because of this wicked act by the lecturers. We also see delay tactics in supervision and defence of thesis/projects. Some school administrations have devised tactics to battle this menace but there still exist loopholes that needs to be filled up.
- Heavy Course Load: One of the wrongs done in our tertiary institutions is using the total amount of credit loads to decide the number of courses students will offer in a semester or session. This has caused students to overwork themselves while studying. For instance, the credit load for a semester may be 28 but the courses that made up that amount may be assigned 2 or 3 credit loads, each. Based on this, the courses that will amount to 28 credit loads may be about ten or twelve in number. Note that these students will exact the same amount of energy in each of the courses, irrespective of its credit load. By the end of the day, the students have worked more than they should.
- Lack of Parental Support: Many parents are supportive; but some think that once their children enter higher institutions, they are adults that can sort themselves out. Maybe that was obtainable in those days but now that undergraduates are becoming younger by the day, parents should try to become parts and parcels of their children’s lives. Left for me, I will say that parents should still follow up their children during their undergraduate days and provide them with every kind of support they might need.
Finally, lecturers should do their best to make life easier for students. They should understand that stress does not increase people’s skills in any way. Yes, resilience is an important virtue everyone should imbibe but different people have different breaking points. Our tertiary institutions should not be a place of suffering.