By Bosede Edwards
The academic transcripts and reference letters saga is just another one of the many rots in the Nigerian system. What is special about it is the fact that it is happening in the education system, and in institutions under the leadership of academics themselves, who are also among the loudest in their criticism of others.
While this is not intended to discountenance the criticism of ridiculous performance, it is a call to the leadership of our tertiary institutions and other relevant bodies in the tone of ‘thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly…’. They need to be doing right for Nigerians to be right in taking up a fight from a righteous standpoint too.
With the desperation with which officers at the registries in our institutions operate, one is in no doubt that many of them might be adjusting and will willingly adjust, content in favour of those who can pay their prices. The questions begging answers are too many and it says a lot about leadership and quality assurance management in our institutions.
Why are our Vice Chancellors, Provosts, Rectors, Registrars and institutional governing board members looking the other way when registry staff are taking payments for transcripts through their personal bank accounts? Why are people made to wait for months and years just to get their transcripts?
Why does accessing one’s academic transcripts have to be a war? Why do people have to pay and never get their transcripts? How are certificates generated if transcripts are not already in place? If contents of transcripts determine what is expressed in certificates, why then does it take an entirely new and long process to get a copy of a document that is already on ground? And why can’t electronic copies of transcripts be made available within minutes or hours? Actually, why do electronic copies of transcripts have to be paid for differently from hard copies? Even as unscrupulous as our banking systems are, they still have the decency to not make us pay for email alerts.
This is the 21st century for crying out loud! Why do people have to travel several hundred kilometres to their former institutions just to request transcripts? We shop online for practically everything, including admission to these same tertiary institutions, so, why can’t we order transcripts online? Aren’t the leaders of these institutions aware there is something called the internet? If WAEC and JAMB can make it possible for students to access their transcripts online and give access codes to institutions who require verification, what is the problem with our tertiary institutions? Are the managers not living in the same country? Why are we all suffering and nobody is saying or doing anything?
A transcript is not a favour, it is the right of every student who has gone through, and completed a programme, or part of it. Dear Registrars, please help educate your staff regarding this, as it appears most of them have no idea this is part of the job they are paid to do. Academic transcripts are part and parcel of the instructional feedback that certificates represent. So, why shouldn’t student copies be included with the certificate when it is issued? Sometimes, you can hardly read what is written on some transcripts, the question is why can’t they be as decent as the certificates? That is what is done in saner climes. When you see academic transcripts from some universities, you can’t help wonder how the leaders of such institutions are not ashamed to send out such. As ridiculous as it sounds, some fellows actually still think using the typewriter makes for genuineness of some documents, and so, you may have to wait for, plead with or bribe the few or only typist remaining alive, who can type with a typewriter and who has become an institution at the registry to attend to your case. Seriously? In 2021? How funny can we get?
According to a colleague, in explaining why issuing student copies of transcript is a big issue, the academic secretary at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto argued that it is because students sometimes tamper with transcripts. The question then is, since people can also tamper with certificates, should we withhold them from graduates too? Why do we choose to ignore the simplest level of logical thinking just to defend misconducts and unlawful personal gains? Isn’t that officer living in the same country where WAEC and JAMB had been operating all these past years?
I am personally aware of many terrible cases, and I had personal experience at both University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University too. A friend is currently in a bad case that has been going on for more than one year at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. People have also brought up many dirty cases involving University of Port Harcourt, and professional bodies like the Nigerian Medical & Dental Association.
Just like a dear professor friend suggested, ‘what prevents the universities from using the same method WAEC and JAMB is using to give out their results?’. Why can’t people download and print their transcripts at will? And if any organisation needs to verify the authenticity of such documents, why can’t they simply request access codes from such candidates? Universities can issue access codes with payment of a small token, and it should be available online and not require people to travel to the institutions to purchase them. We have been using virtual recharge cards with our mobiles for several years now, so, why are the leaders in our academic institutions pretending solving the problem of transcripts is some big impossible issue? This is sincerely a big shame. This type of issue should be an integral part of the quality assurance work that bodies like the NUC is saddled with. Correction should also apply to all tertiary institutions, whether public or private, as well as professional bodies who also have similar functions.
In closing, it is high time our institutions and professional bodies got a mandate from their managers and overseers to issue decent, equally professional-looking copies of academic transcripts with the certificates upon graduation. They should also ensure academic transcripts requests can be accessed easily online using verification codes similar to what WAEC and JAMB currently use. Such access codes should be available and virtually accessible at reasonable, rather than ridiculous costs, requiring no physical cards, or contacts with registry staff. Requests for hard copies of academic transcripts to be mailed to institutions locally or internationally should also be made possible online and processed within a few working days.
I write in the hope that those in academics, especially the leadership of Nigerian public tertiary institutions, the NUC, NCCE, NBTE, and academic/professional accreditation bodies can begin to get it right from things as simple as academic transcripts. Then we can possibly dare to hope for something as big as a better Nigeria.
Bosede Edwards is a lecturer, Research Consultant & Int’l Student Placement ExpertFor information on Press Releases, Photos, Promotional Events and Adverts, Please Call or Send a Text to 09052129258, 08124662170 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org