By Augustine Aminu
Nigeria has a huge number of her citizens living in poverty who still struggle to send their wards to school.
One can imagine what the parents are going through directly or indirectly to pay a corrupt institution before their children get their projects done or graduate from such institutions.
Despite calls from authorities of higher institutions in Nigeria for schools to remain closed till a proper way of reducing the spread of COVID-19 is figured out, investigation by AUTHORITY NEWSPAPER learnt that the Proprietor of Dorben Polytechnic, Bwari in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Elder (Dr.) A.B Ekwere, has continued to defy the Federal Government’s directive on school closure and working from home by forcing his staff to report to work thereby exposing them to risks of contacting the Coronavirus.
Ekwere has within this period also relocated the polytechnic (Dorben) from Garam, Niger state to the nursery, primary and secondary school compound in Bwari, FCT without observing regulations of having up to 50 hectares of land as stipulated by National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
Aside this, the investigation revealed how students of the polytechnic are being extorted by the Proprietor of the institution, as they systematically pay to write exams and graduate.
Further investigation revealed that the Proprietor, pays lecturers in the school meagre amount as low as eight thousand (8,000) some unimaginably get one thousand (1,000) as salary while those on loan gets nothing.
How students pay for projects or thesis
The tertiary institution also engages in what could be described as an exploitation cutting across all the graduating students of the institution.
Project or thesis is a partial requirement for the award of university or polytechnic degree or higher diploma in Nigeria, which requires rigorous academic research by undergraduates under the supervision of a supervisor, is being traded for money in this institution.
To this end, Part Time students of HND were asked to pay N30,000 while the Full Time HND and ND students were asked to pay N40,000 and N20,000 respectively for project assessment.
In a Memo dated June 15, 2020 With the Subject: Academic Board’s Decision on Submission of FT Final Year ND Project reads:
At the emergency meeting of the Academic Board held on 15th June 2020 the board approved that graduating students be assisted to facilitate the timely completion of their programmes.
Consequently, each fulltime graduating ND Student who is due for the project defense is required to complete his/her project within 2 weeks (16th – 30th June, 2020) and make payment of N20,000 (Project Assessment Fee) to facilitate the Project evaluation that would involve the External Examiners.
Payment of the Project Assessment Fee is to be made to the following Accounts:
Zenith Bank (1011178443)
Fidelity Bank (4011199655)
The decision takes immediate effect and is strictly for the current FT graduating ND students (i.e February 2020 graduating set).
Findings revealed that most of the courses in the school have not gone 20% before the lockdown, some have not even started. In a Memo sited by AUTHORITY NEWSPAPER, all students are directed to sit for an e- exam by next week Wednesday without proper consultations with the relevant bodies that supervise Polytechnics in Nigeria.
According to another Memo sited, with the subject: e-examination for Part-Time Students reads:
At the Emergency meeting of Academic Board held on 15th June, 2020. The Board approved that part-time students be made to take non-real time (on-line) e-examination.
Consequently, the students are required to note that the non-real time e-examination for the semester shall commence effective from 1st July, 2020.
Students are also required to take note that only those who have completed payment of their tuition fees will be qualified to take e-examination. (The students should therefore complete payment of fees and obtain Exam Permit).
Each student is also required to pay N5,000 for the e-examination.
For details and other modalities, each student is expected to contact his/her HOD via phone/Whatsapp immediately. He/She should also furnish the HOD with his/her phone number WhatsApp number and e-mail address immediately and unfailingly.
No payment, no exam
Some of the requirements for the part time students for the examination are:
1. Settlement of outstanding school fees.
2. Online examination fees of N5,000 per student.
3. Semester registration N12,500 per student.
4. Departmental registration between N3,000 to N5,000 per student.
As at the time of filing this report, e- exams are going on in different business centers without any supervision. Exams are even written till midnights.
From some of the social media messages sited, some students lament this irregularities saying the standard of the school has been reduced to nothing.
The irregularities doesn’t stop there, the school also asks every student to pay the sum of N5000 for online exams for some lectures that never even started and for those that have started they have not covered half of the syllabus.
Furthermore, the investigation revealed that the practice of forcing students to pay unnecessary fees especially final year students who are most times asked to pay money for projects and other illegal fees before they are allowed to graduate without following the guidelines of graduating students academically as obtained in other higher institutions in Nigeria.
On the quest to get information from the lawmaker, calls placed to his phone line and messages sent to him by the reporter but were not answered up till the time of filing this report.
When the the Public Relations Officer of the school, Kareem Akanbi, was contacted on the issue, he said he was just hearing from the reporter for the first time.
The reporter also called the Registrar of the school Mr Victor Abianga, initially, he said he was not aware of the issues raised by the reporter but when heard the issue of payment of money for projects, he said he has issued a counter memo in respect to that.
Questions from concerned citizens
-How can the integrity of such exams be guaranteed (if it holds) as students are prepared to write from the comfort of their homes?
-How is such exams supervised or moderated?
-Why is the school still in operation as usual as against the Federal Governments order that schools be short for the time being?
-Is the NBTE regulating polytechnic education in Nigeria aware of what DORBEN Polytechnic is doing to the standard of Education?
-Has the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 issued or approved any protocol for re-opening of Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria?
Let the Federal Ministry of Education, the National Board for Technical Education, and the PTF on COVID-19 be up on their duties as to stem further damage to educational standards and safeguard the lives of staff and students.