For some time now, there had been an upsurge in the number of reported cases of harassment of female students by their teachers in the country’s ivory towers. This is even as the public had been inundated with claims and counter claims by the victims and their assailants, with some of them leaving sour taste in the mouth of the discerning public.
While there had been a loud outcry against sex-for-mark, victimisation and harassment of female students by these randy lecturers and the apparent lackadaisical attitude of some of the authorities of the affected institutions in handling of this disturbing development, some universities had, however, taken decisive actions.
We commend the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University, the Lagos State University and the Federal University of Technology, Minna for sanctioning erring varsity teachers found guilty of sex-for-mark, sexual harassment and other abominable acts. The management of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, also dismissed one of its lecturers after the outcome of investigation into alleged sexual assault on a female student in the department who took a course taught by him.
We, however, frown at the unhealthy act perpetuated by these teachers which we see as tantamount to betrayal and gross abuse of the trust vested in them.
We feel a sense of repulsion at the behaviour that has not only cast aspersion on the image of the university system but has also dragged into mud the high regard in which the esteemed profession they belong to is held.
While we note with satisfaction the dismissal of the perpetrators of the disgraceful act by the concerned authorities, we enjoin them to also hand over these culprits to law enforcement agents for prosecution and eventual conviction. Whether their conviction was effected or not, a step should be taken further to ensure that these men do not find their way back into other hallowed enclaves of knowledge and continue dispensing their accursed acts to hapless female students.
This could be facilitated by opening a sexual offenders’ register for erring male lecturers caught and found culpable in the act of desecrating their female students. These lecturers should be blacklisted and forbidden to work or parade themselves as such again.
Teachers, lecturers, instructors, tutors or whichever name they are known as the custodian of academic and moral excellence are expected to live above board while imparting knowledge as members of the noble profession. Also, the punishment for rape and other non-consensual act of having carnal knowledge of students who are deemed as their wards should also attract stiffer penalties.
The legislature is enjoined to promulgate laws against this despicable act.
To further guard against this unbecoming act, school authorities should ensure and enforce strict adherence to the school calendar. Doing this will discourage factors that put the students at a disadvantage position in pursuing rigorously their academic tasks. Also, authorities of tertiary institutions should cause the enactment of a code of conduct for their academic staff which the different trade unions these workers belong to would encourage their members to comply with. It is of utmost importance to caution female students who for reasons ranging from poor academic performance, absenteeism and indecent dressing lure their male teachers to seek canal favours from them to stop their unbecoming acts. These students have advertently or inadvertently helped in escalating sexual harassment as it obtains now in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
In our opinion, the Ivory Tower, historically is hallowed in its conception and perception. When sordid stories of the type described above begin to be heard about these institutions, the public, and parents in particular, begin to worry about the moral safety of their wards they sent there to acquire the proverbial Golden Fleece.
It is from this perspective that we insist that the government at all levels and school authorities join forces to vigorously pursue measures aimed at nipping in the bud acts that do not conduce to learning and proper moral character. We appreciate the despatch at which the schools concerned handled identified cases. However, we will, with all sense responsibility, prefer a more proactive measure that will prevent the act from taking place at all. We make this demand because no punishment can make up for the humiliation the victims and their parents suffer. On the part of parents and guardians, we believe that inculcating adequate moral upbringing in their children and wards will make them less vulnerable to such temptations.
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