By Victor Chijioke, Samuel Oluwasegun Emmanuel, Morayo Koku, Ajoke Dabiri, and Ajayi Ifeoluwa Olamide
The deployment of a biometric attendance system appears to be the magic wand which the university needs to tame the problem of students’ poor class attendance and attitude to learning.
Professor Ige Omotayo Bolodeoku, Dean of the Faculty of Law, who extols the value of this technology in an interview with UNILAG SUN reporters, explained that the deployment of that technology now makes it possible to enforce the university’s mandatory 65 per cent attendance rule in an impersonal manner.
Now in his second tenure as faculty dean, Bolodeoku listed his other achievements: the introduction of a sustainable public address system, e-learning and research tools, and the new attendance system with the help of faculty alumni.
According to him, these technological enhancements have not only created a better environment for students to learn effectively but also ensured that students experience this environment by making it possible for the faculty to enforce attendance rules.
He said the switch from manual recording of class attendance was necessary to prevent students from signing for their mates who deliberately stay away from classes and to eliminate situations where students beg and lobby to be allowed to take exams when they do not meet the attendance requirement.
He explained the problem that motivated the solution, saying, “The value of learning in the university system is presence, participation, and interaction, and students can’t be out of class and achieve this. The idea of being a full-time student and working outside school while you have a life here poorly attended to is not acceptable. We have a bouquet of students all across [the university], not only the law faculty, who stay away from school and then walk into the examination hall to write their exams. Those kinds of attitudes devalue the quality of an undergraduate in the university.”
Speaking further on the motivation for the solution, he touched on student dishonesty, saying, “Some students are not honest; they commit crimes every day by signing and forging signatures for people who are not present, which is a criminal act. Even with this, some students still don’t meet the attendance requirement, which leads to a lot of begging and disruptions. So I started thinking that there should be a better approach to this issue, and just in that season a set of the alumni ’91 came in and I gave them an assignment to deliver me from this mess. I told them we needed a biometric attendance system and they promised to look into it—which they did.”
He recounted problems he met on the ground upon assuming office in his first tenure, noting that the lecturers faced problems communicating with students in the classrooms. “We have large classes and what that meant was that we couldn’t teach without half of our students disconnected because they couldn’t hear us. With a class of over 450, one wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively to every member of that class except for those who sat at the front, which shouldn’t be.”
But now, with the introduction of ACs, address systems, amplifiers with mixers, and good microphones with good range” to make the classes conducive for learning, this problem is solved.
To further enhance students’ learning capacities within the faculty, an e-library consisting of computers with electronic databases for research was provided with the help of alumni.
In addition, Bolodeoku also noted how, in concert with faculty alumni, his administration has improved the welfare and working conditions of teaching staff. With the equipping of lecturers with 1TB ROM and 8GB RAM smart laptops to help their research and the introduction of digital interactive boards that allow them to teach from home, teaching staff are better placed to perform their duties.
Not discounting the indispensable role the faculty’s old students have played in the technological enhancement of learning at the faculty, Bolodeoku noted that his vision and track record play no small part in strengthening the alumni-faculty relationship and nudging alumni beneficence in the right direction. He also used the opportunity to call for further support in erecting a digital notice board in the faculty.
Commenting on the recent student fee increment across some public universities, the Dean pointed out that if there is to be an optimal level of infrastructure development in public universities, the education these institutions offer cannot be free.
“The university is not funded; there is no tuition,” he said. “Tuition is the money that is assured to the university to build and rebuild. Suppose you graduate from a university and you can still recognise it years later. In that case, there is something wrong with the university.”