Two students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Osun State, have committed suicide while three others have reportedly suffered from pronounced mental health problems in a short space of time.
All 5 students mentioned above have, at one point or another, linked their academic performance to the state of their mental health. The two students who, unfortunately, committed suicide attributed their decision to poor academic performance, while the three who reported mental health issues noted it began as a result of trying to avoid failing their classes.
In October 2017, during the 2016/2017 session, Mercy Afolaranmi, a 100 level student of MicroBiology ingested the notorious ‘sniper’ after receiving an E in CHM101 (Chemistry for first-year students) course. Sniper is a DDVP, 2,2-Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate compound, marketed in Nigeria by Swiss-Nigerian Chemical Company as a synthetic organophosphorus substance, which many Nigerians have converted to an indoor insecticide and home suicide kit.
In OAU, CHM101 is a course that normally records a significant level of failure but, that session received a particular uptick in the number of students who failed and this is what many suspect drove the girl to commit suicide.
Kolapo Olowoporoku, an extra year student studying Computer Engineering recently committed suicide as a result of failing a course he failed before. In his final year, six students failed the course and only 1 passed it during their extra year.
Kolapo’s coursemate, Mayowa (surname withheld) however, confirmed in an interview with Campus Reporters that Kolapo was being pressured from home as a result of not meeting a specific target in his academics.
“He is not the only one that had issues with some courses. I also had but I have passed them. He wrote the course as an extra student. That was during the first semester during the last session. The result came out late because of the ASUU strike but was released in the second semester. The one he told me about is CVE- technical report writing. So when it was eventually released, he failed that one again.”
“So, he said they were going to the department to beg the lecturers. Out of six of them who took the course as extra year students, only one passed. So I feel that contributed to his depression.”
When asked if the deceased ever confided in him, Mayowa replied: “He never showed it. But I could remember in part four, he told me that there’s pressure from home and that they (the parents) don’t know what he is facing in school. They want him to graduate with a first class or Second class upper.”
Unfortunately, Mr Olowoporoku took his own life before graduating.
In the first semester of the 2017/2018 session, 3 students reported mental health problems during the examination period, as a result of excess reading. One was said to have been awake for over 42 hours reading, while another was as a result of ingesting a substance that would stop sleep.
The Obafemi Awolowo University is well-known and dreaded for its harsh academical structure, which is evident in the extremely low number of First Class degree holders. There is a general consensus among students that the academic staff are comfortable with the harsh structure and the unfair grades students receive. Lecturers are also notorious for boasting about how difficult it is to receive a good grade in their classes, even going ahead to intimidate students.
There have been cases in the Faculty of Sciences where lecturers intimidate students with high rates of failure in their courses from past classes. Geology, a famous department in the institution, is consensually regarded as the harshest department on the campus. This department is known for being one where receiving a First Class degree is abnormal and most sessions end with students receiving extra years to complete a course or more.
Noting this, Professor Aransi, the Dean of the Division of Students’ Association, was contacted by this correspondent. While speaking to Campus Reporter he assured that the school is working to curb the trend and that this will be revealed in due time.
“We are aware of it, we’ve started working on it. We will discuss the matter very soon and we will get back to students.
Meanwhile, Olowolafe Dunsin, a student of Computer Engineering, an activist and the acting coordinator of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) blamed the educational system in an interview with Campus Reporter.
“No one is talking of the poor academic arrangements that slowly but deeply contributes to failure. For example, the previous session was one that went with the writing of examinations without completing the stipulated hours of lecture due to ASUU strike,” he said.
“No one is talking about a calendar that doesn’t put into consideration the psychological stability of students.”
The institution is currently in the first semester of the 2018/2019 session with the management aiming to standardised the academic calendar.
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