Covenant University is known for releasing many first-class graduates into the society. In 2013, out of 1, 466 graduating students, 114 made the first-class list. 2014 saw 82 first-class graduates from 1, 429 graduating students. In 2015, there were 104 of them out of the 1, 315 that graduated. Then, in 2017, 2018, and 2019, Covenant University graduated 188, 238, and 215 first-class graduates out of the 1125, 1887, and 1580 graduating students, respectively. This would not have been considered as a big deal if not that the school is situated in a country where making a first-class is described as a mission almost impossible. So, as the university continues to release many graduates with first-class, questions concerning their strategies or lack of have arisen.
The first thing that comes to the mind of anyone that understands how the Nigerian education system runs is that Covenant University awards grades carelessly. People that assume such claim that, since it is a private university, it needs to keep its customers happy, especially considering the huge amount of money paid as fees in the school. Those with this ideology will compare the school to federal higher institutions, where lecturers are “strict” with marking and grading scripts without the fear of losing their jobs if students fail. But these people have not asked themselves why other private universities in the country do not produce the same percentage of first-class graduates. Or, do they?
Another argument surrounding this matter is that these schools have facilities that make teaching and learning easier for students. For instance, students do not need to cook in private universities because the institutions have cafeterias that take care of that. In other words, these students spend their time cooking to study. Well, those of us that cooked our own meals while in school know that this does not hold water. Maybe students can be distracted by worries of what to eat but never by preparing the food when they finally find it. However, the claims that students do well in private universities because they have access to facilities, which are missing in public schools, should further be studied.
There is also this claim that private universities have better lecturers than public ones. I once met a graduate of a private university that told me that all their lecturers, even the newly recruited ones, were professors. Well, it is possible. But then, who assessed those young professors? What modalities were used in turning them into one? There is no need to go deep into this but let’s just say that there is no university in Nigeria that recruits only professors as their lecturers, unless it is not following the Nigerian system of promotion into professorship, which comes through a series of assessments and years of on-the-job experiences. Apart from that, tests and grading are internal affairs, so, the quality of lecturers does not count here. Grading is done at lecturers’ discretion so their qualifications do not count. Hence, you cannot compare the output quality of different schools based on grades because they do not write the same exam neither were they graded by the same persons.
We also cannot say that students that attend private universities are more intelligent than those in public ones. We know that the majority of JAMB candidates first opt for federal and state-owned schools. They only consider private ones when they miss admissions in government-owned schools. In fact, it is right to say that students in federal universities are the most intelligent. But then, they hardly graduate with exceptionally good grades. This should bother us.
Anyone that attends Nigerian universities or any other higher institutions knows how frustrating the system could be. Sometimes it appears as if the system was primary designed to stress students. There are speculations that the stress students pass through in the public higher institutions contribute to their low grades. This may be possible if you check it thoroughly.
Of course, those in private schools do not need to fight for seats in lecture halls, struggle for transportation to their various lectures held from one end of the school to the other. Private university students do not understand that ventilation in lecture halls comes through windows without louvers and that air conditioners are only found in offices. How do you tell someone in a private university that it is unheard of in public institutions that schools provide Wi-Fi for students to do their research and write their assignments? How about victimization by lecturers, students, and non-academic staff? Have students in private universities ever heard of that?
There is no need to go over reasons private-held schools, such as Covenant Universities, produce many first-class graduates but know it now that the students over there have all they needed to make such grades. They have conducive environments that are suitable for education to take place. Their school attends to their complaints and needs. Their lecturers are qualified. And the students have enough funds to finance their academic and personal projects. These students have what those in the public schools have and more. So, yes, their first class is expected. Put any student that graduated with a low grade in a public school in Covenant University and, believe me, he will do better because he stands a better chance to make good grades.