In the last two weeks, the Nigerian social media has been agog with the tale of a leaked audio/video recording of a professor in the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, demanding sex from a female student to help her pass her examination. As expected, the disclosure has generated instant outrage, vituperation and condemnations from the Nigerian public.
Some of the reactions spotlight the challenges sexual harassment pose to female students. But this trending incident is not an isolated case. Last October, a married lecturer at the Cross River State College of Technology, Ogoja, was seen in a video that went viral soliciting sex from a female student assigned to him for her project.
He was arrested by law enforcement agents. Another was caught in his underpants with an Auchi Polytechnic student. The lecturer claimed that it was a set-up. Not unlikely, considering the desperation of some of the not too serious female students. In 2005, the Lagos State University, Ojo, sacked a lecturer, who was also caught in his underpants in a Lagos hotel room in the process of having sex with a 200-level undergraduate.
Sex for marks in schools is without doubt, an act that is not only shameful and worrisome, but calls to question the quality of academic instructions and the certificates the graduates bandy around.
We are afraid that this latest sex for mark scandal allegedly involving Professor Richard Akindele of the Accounting Department of the OAU and an unnamed female student, though not the first, may not likely be the last. The reason is not far-fetched.
It is simply because the university system has not done enough or taken steps to check its occurrence. Even though the institutions of higher learning consider sexual harassment an offence punishable by extant laws governing the schools, they have proved reluctant to act on previous cases so as to deter any future misdeed along that line.
The lack of political and even moral will on the part of universities to vigorously tackle sexual harassment and other forms of sexual assaults such as sex-for-marks, coupled with a lack of faith in the system to impartially dispense justice, have seen some students resort to taking the law into their own hands. Some lecturers have been set up, stripped, beaten and humiliated by students desperate for revenge.
On the face value, it can be blamed on the societal attitude and practice that tends to stereotype women as sex objects–for men’s pleasure. But there is also an angle that is very obvious in which the women make themselves vulnerable to sexual exploitation. That, too, must be condemned. However, this newspaper will stridently fight against sexual abuse targeted at women wherever it rears its ugly head be it in the streets, in the market place, schools and workplaces.
Though, sexual harassment in universities is mostly viewed from the angle of male philandering lecturers running after female students, little is often spoken about female students deliberately seducing male lecturers, mainly for good grades. We also have a situation whereby male students, offer lecturers inducements for better grades. All these scenario must be put in their proper perspective so as to engender a holistic solution to the problem.
In our considered opinion, most, if not all of the problems bedevilling the society have their roots in the quality of family upbringing. Or even lack of it. A good upbringing goes a long way in moulding a good character.
Parents should nurture and train their children in sound moral and religious upbringing, and for their male children, not to see females as perks of office when they grow up and are in a position of authority.
The failure to adequately address this cankerworm eating deep into the societal fabrics is unfortunate. It calls for better governance of schools and the recalibration of the incentive mechanisms of these institutions.
There are major governance failures in the way the schools are managed. Many lecturers are not subjected to any form of oversight or certification that they should go through and until the authorities create a merit-based school system, the problem will persist and fester.
Experts warn that bargaining for marks through money or sex deserves serious scrutiny condemnable as it is. Students too should always take their academics seriously to avoid some lecturers taking advantage of their weak academic performances to make unfavourable demands.
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