The student hostel facilities in our tertiary institutions have been a major area of concern with increasing student population as a result of increasing interest in the higher institutions of learning over the years. In this article we take a critical look at the decaying state of student hostel in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions.
The rise in population of students admitted yearly into our tertiary institutions has led to various problematic conditions of student housing which range from inadequate infrastructure facilities to overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions thus leading to severe health problems amongst students residing in hostels.
Students are the main target for the establishment of any tertiary institution. All over the world, most of the tertiary institutions provide some kind of student hostels in the forms of residential halls, apartments, dormitories, and so on for their students.
It is expected of every tertiary institution to house not only the academic activities but the students seeking knowledge in various fields of endeavor, hence student hostel becomes essential.
Accommodating students in form of student hostel in a tertiary institution goes beyond finding a place to rest heads. As a facility, the design and housing style should address especially the internal space needs, highly needed by the residing students.
Also, other factors like health, safety and sanitation should form the core of shelter provision, this is necessary to harness students educational cultural and recreational needs.
Although student hostel in tertiary institutions is considered necessary in controlling students moral discipline and plays a vital role in increasing the academic performance of these students, but it remains an exigent venture for institutions to manage.
Like many other tertiary institutions in the world, tertiary institutions in Nigeria are facing problems in providing comfortable and affordable accommodation to their ever increasing students’ population.
In recent years, tertiary institutions are facing real cuts in the level of public funding. Thus, the level of flexible funding that could be allocated to major infrastructure projects such as accommodation was reduced.
On other hand, the demand for high quality education is fast growing in a crowded education market. Nigeria has the biggest tertiary education system in sub-saharan Africa, with well over 300 accredited tertiary institutions.
More than 50% of these tertiary institutions have large student population. The tertiary institutions have continued to experience a tremendous rise in student enrolments over the past decades, the surge in students has not been matched by a corresponding growth in student accommodation.
Figures from the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) have shown that the provision of student hostel is less than 30% of the demand for student housing.
The vast majority of students live in privately rented accommodation. While the Federal Tertiary Institutions have failed to keep pace with student housing needs, most of the state tertiary institutions have not even tried!
This may not be unconnected with the fact that, at the inception, state-established tertiary institutions have relegated the idea of student housing to the background due to high maintenance cost. It may be assumed that the state governments concerned with the enormous budget that would be required in the provision of student housing would rather utilize it in providing academic facilities.
However, this claim will be at the expense of both the students and government, because the overall objective of training students in both character and learning will be compromised. It is an indisputable fact that only healthy student will be able to receive the type of training these tertiary institutions want to instill, but the state of facilities and condition of student housing in school hostels remains appalling.
Those who have lived in hostels provided by schools will confirm to the usefulness of the facility for students. Some of the benefits of student hostel in tertiary institutions include;
Facilitating Reading/Learning – At any level of education (primary, secondary or tertiary), staying in the hall of residence or hostel does enhance the desire to read.
In student hostel, there are fewer distractions, control (as in forced ‘prep’ classes in secondary schools), and the activities of studious colleagues can force less serious ones to read. It is also easier to relate with colleagues who are close by or teachers, in situations where a student has a difficulty on a subject matter.
Co-curricular Activities – Students in hostels have a greater opportunity of participating in sports, games, club, and social activities that are expected to make them more rounded individuals and citizens than those living off-campus who may find themselves forced into domestic activities once they are at home.
Security – Students are indeed more secure on campus than off-campus in spite of the menace of cult activities in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. This is because institutions maintain security personnel on campus and do monitor the activities of students.
Some private Universities are known to lock their gates early and to insist on students obtaining exit permits before they travel home.
Moral Training – Persons from tertiary institutions are graduated based on satisfactory performance ‘in character and in learning’. Moral training includes individual behaviour in group situations as in hostels.
Despite the obvious gains of living in a school hostel, the decaying state of the student hostel in most of our tertiary institutions have relegated the advantages of staying in a student hostel to the background.
Usually, the number of occupants per room in student hostel of tertiary institutions doubles or even triples the intended capacity. In a situation where the legal number of occupants per room in each hostel is put at eight, you will discover that at least 16 persons occupy that room. The extra occupants are usually referred to as squatters.
The hostel utilities and services are therefore over utilized.
In our tertiary institutions the problems associated with student hostel are enormous; ranging from bad state of the facilities, poor maintenance, shortage of housing unit, student population, unavailability of space for future development, shortage of utilities, service and poor structural condition of the buildings.
The poor state of student hostel in tertiary institutions can be identified in the condition of windows, doors, and even the roof
The initial objective of safety in the hostels as regard nearness and to avoid lateness to classrooms seem to have been neglected, this could be attributed to queues in the morning for the use of bathrooms and tap water.
There is also a place for health in all of these occasioned by overcrowding in student hostel of these tertiary institutions. Overcrowding is associated with increased physical and mental health problems and poor educational achievement by students.
Overcrowding is also associated with the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. Mental pressure and stress that can trigger irritation and aggression, sleep disturbance, interruption of speech and social interaction, disturbance of concentration and cardiovascular effects are other anomalies that can result from overcrowding.
To surmount these challenges, hence bring sanity to a decaying system, the existing housing facilities need to be rehabilitated. This involve improving the condition of the existing utilities and services that are in poor state in the students housing.
Furthermore, more facilities should be provided in the hostels; ranging from toilet, bathroom, electricity, and water supply for the students.