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First semester examinations put on hold

- as Njala University students demand chairs and desks

By Victoria Saffa

Students of Njala University College, in both Mokonda and Bo Campuses, yesterday began a sit-down strike action. Information gathered from both campuses in Bo and Mokonda revealed that the strike action was as a result of lack to seating accommodation for students at the university.

Students were due to commence examinations on yesterday (Monday, 10th March), but that was put on hold after students refused to enter the campus if the college administration did not provide adequate furniture in all the lecture rooms to enable students to write their examinations comfortably.

Both campuses in Bo and Mokonda were at a standstill, and examiners who had gone to conduct examinations found empty lecture rooms as students stayed away, refusing to take the examinations until the college administration provide adequate seating accommodation for thousands of students enrolled at the university.

The action by the students, inevitably led to a cancelation of the examinations as no breakthrough could be reached with the students, who are adamant that university authorities provide them with basic furniture while they write their exams.

Students at the university have been coping with inadequate furniture, including chairs and desks for the past years, with many having to stand throughout lectures. Also, sanitary conditions at both campuses are said be in a deplorable condition with some students having to defecate in the bush.

According to students who spoke to our reporter, although they pay astronomical fees, the university has failed to provide a conducive learning environment.  “We cannot afford to stand whilst taking exams. This is an unfortunate situation and we are calling on the authorities to address this issue before we take the exams,” a students’ activist said, adding “We are not afraid of the examination but the right thing must be done, especially in the area of benches and chairs for students.”

Also, our sources reveal that the strike action may have been inspired by issues of payment of college fees as the college administration is reported to have issued a statement prior to the commencement of examinations that only students who have paid fifty percent of their fees will be allowed to take the first semester examinations.

Njala University is the second and first provincial university in the country. Dozens of students are admitted to pursue numerous degree and diploma courses in three campuses in Mokonde, Bo and Freetown. The university has been beset by several strike actions by both academic and non-academic staff in the past, but the current action by students has the potential to embarrass the college administration as the college prepares to celebrate its golden jubilee later year.

The college administration was yet to issue a statement as we went to press.