University life comes with all the liberty, fun, excitement, drama and all the interesting things one would wish for. For students fresh from high school, the freedom is like that of a bird that has been set free from a cage. However, when one gets too consumed in the fun, academic concentration is compromised and in many cases retakes are an obvious occurrence.
A retake is basically a scenario where a student has to redo a paper or course unit, and it sometimes comes with expenses. There are many reasons that might cause these retakes but nevertheless there are ways to minimise or avoid them.
Education experts share views
According to Prof Danson Musyoki, the acting vice chancellor of University of Kigali, the Higher Education Council sets the standards which the university follows while grading students. For a student to get a retake, they will have scored below 50 per cent at undergraduate level and below 60 per cent for master’s level.
“Each trimester has four modules, if a student fails a module, they are supposed to retake that specific module, but if they fail all the modules, it is a must to retake all of them. For students who don’t sit these exams for various reasons, for instance sickness or court sessions, they are given special exams different from the ones their colleagues did,” he says.
Musyoki explains that for a student to sit final exams they must have attended over 85 per cent of classes, which is the reason they carry out roll calls.
He adds that regarding assessment, assignments fetch 20 per cent, tests carry 40 per cent, while final exams carry 40 per cent.
“Retakes occur due to failure of students to research, having less or no time for revision, lack of enough time for consultation, having no time for discussions, misuse of freedom where by some students use their free time for other issues instead of focusing on their academics and lack of proper monitoring by university authorities,” he says.
Musyoki urges students to work hard and be disciplined to avoid such inconveniences, especially because the job market has become more competitive.
For Alphonse Uworwayeho, a lecturer of mathematics at University of Rwanda, the main cause of retakes is delayed feedback from the lecturers where some students sit their final exams without knowing their assessment marks.
“This leaves them with no idea of what they are working for, yet this course assessment feedback is supposed to be given before final exams to allow students prepare for their final exams with an idea of what they must score to pass,” he says.
Uworwayeho adds that economic factors also hinder students from excelling as some have to fend for themselves and their siblings with no one to render a helping hand. This leads to lack of concentration in class because their thoughts are scattered, hence getting retakes.
Uworwayeho encourages students to focus on their studies and urges the lecturers to give feedback to students in time so that they can know what they are working for in their final exams.
Prof Dr Gustave Tombola, the deputy vice chancellor academics at the University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies, says passing is determined by credit accumulation from different modules, adding that some retakes are paid for while others are not.
“For instance, if a student sits and fails a paper, they are supposed to pay for the retake, whereas if they fail to sit a paper due to tuition issues, they can do a retake without paying for it.
He notes that for some of the causes of these retakes might be due to family, psychological, health or even economic issues, while some students are just weak in different areas. The students are key in causing a retake; the lecturers are the second cause, while the last cause is issues beyond these two parties.
Teddy Asiimwe, a university student, says her first time to get a retake was frustrating and time wasting since she was juggling school and work.
“Sometimes it would be hard for me to manage both, so I ended up not giving studies my whole because I missed some classes and tests,” she says.
Asiimwe adds that as long as one has either a parent or guardian to cater for their tuition, they should first concentrate on studies because sometimes it can be tricky handling both school and work successfully.
Joel Gasigwa, a masters’ student of science and finance at University of Kigali, says retakes are rampant and are caused by different factors, especially on the part of students.
“Students have different motives; some just come to get papers just to be promoted at their work places while others just take studies for granted. But those who genuinely yearn for knowledge and concentrate have lower chances of retaking,” he says.
Gasigwa adds that higher possibilities of retakes are regular among students who are usually absent from school, especially the working class people. “Sometimes these people are off for work and miss out on tests, yet without test marks one cannot sit the final exams.”
He urges students not to take studies for granted but rather do their best to get knowledgeable because no one desires to fail.
“I call upon students to be disciplined, aim higher and to maximise all avenues of acquiring knowledge and skills while at the university because this is the key to a better Rwanda and the entire world,” says Gasigwa.
Patience Uwase, a student at the Adventist University of Central Africa in Kigali, says what helps her excel are majorly two things; teamwork through discussions with a number of people to share different ideas and using her time efficiently for revision and research.
She calls upon her fellow students to follow her model in order to acquire good grades and steer clear of retakes.
Parents speak out
Ann Abayisenga, a mother whose child studies at the Catholic University of Rwanda says since she is a single mother who strains a lot looking for tuition fees, she would not want to spend more money paying for a retake.
“As a mother, I would not be pleased if any student got a retake because it distracts their concentration since instead of focusing on a new module, they are busy reading for the old one they failed. It is expensive and time consuming in addition to delaying one’s graduation,” she says.
Paul Muhire, a father of four, notes that before his children report to school, they pledge to perform well. He advises parents to try this approach since it has worked wonders for his children.
“Retakes do not mean that a child is stupid; sometimes these students need to create a good relationship with their parents for support whenever they face a problem instead of keeping quiet which breeds failure,” he explains.