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Social distancing impossible at Nigerian universities

Chinalurumogu Eze/YJI

Enugu, NIGERIA – Of all the preventive measures to help contain the coronavirus, I find social distancing comical.

It amuses me most in a school setting, especially a university.

Private universities may not really have a problem with practicing social distancing, but a federal or state university? That’s a dead end.

Federal or state universities in Nigeria have approximately 10,000 students.

Take my school and department as a case study. As a fresher in the Department of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria, I have more than 300 fellow students studying the same courses.

We have a classroom that can fit at most 50 students comfortably. How do we survive? Do we? A row meant for five people contains about 10 students.

The aisle of the classroom is crammed with students as well, either standing up or sitting on the bare floor. This hinders the lecturer from pacing back and forth.

The front of the classroom is also heaped with students standing or sitting on the floor behind and beside the lecturer.

This means you get close to a lot of people and breathe in different kinds of air.

In a combined setting, there is a general study course which my department takes together with eight other departments. Most of these departments have a large population. This makes the general study classes flooded with students.

The lecture is held in a hall with stadium-like seats and the hall is usually filled to the brim.

Due to the large mass of students taking the lecture, there are limited seats and this means some students sit on the high concrete platform meant for the lecturer to stand on and give lectures.

A hall meant to contain approximately 1,000 students instead is crammed with twice as many.

Hostel accommodation for students is another populated assembly. Five pairs of bunk beds meant to house 10 students houses as many as 20 students.

With these conditions for living and learning, can it be said that social distancing is feasible in a Nigerian university?

I’m sure you know the answer to that.

Chinalurumogu Eze is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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