If there is one thing that kills scholarship in Nigeria's higher institutions today, that thing is ''sorting''. It is a situation whereby lecturers demand gratification from students to either approve or go through their projects/papers, or to give them good marks. It also involves subtly forcing students to buy their textbooks, despite official ban on such by the school authorities. In this instance, students are required to write their examination numbers and names after buying such textbooks, an indication that those whose names and numbers are not seen will face punitive measures such as failing the lecturers' courses. Conversely, those who comply hardly fail.
Another bad aspect of ''sorting'' is a situation where some male lecturers literally force female students to sleep with them in order to give them pass marks in courses they fail. They have also been known to purposely fail female students for refusing to sleep with them, even if they pass their courses.
While the female students are sexually harassed, the male students often pay money to the lecturers through their proxies, who are often course representatives.
Many students are today forced to put money in envelopes, accompanied by bottles of wine, and forward to lecturers through their proxies after every examination. It is especially rife among final year students.
A recent case which was brought to the notice of this paper was a female student whose project supervisor refused to approve her topic because she did not ''drop'' money. It was only after she did so that the lecturer, a woman, looked her way and approved her project topic.
This is indeed, a very sad phenomenon in our schools today. It has in no small way, contributed in rubbishing education and enthroning mediocrity.
Although the various school authorities claim to be against such a phenomenon, it has continued to hold sway and Fides understands that those involved in this scam have a well organised racket aimed at protecting themselves.
Thus, students who obey the directive of their institutions by reporting their ordeal are often victimised because their identities are often leaked. Thus many students are afraid of reporting such incidents.
Fides frowns at such practice which does not augur well for the growth of education in the country. Under this practice, mediocrity is enthroned when otherwise brilliant students are failed, while the dullards are passed because they gave the lecturers what they wanted.
We recommend that the various administrations of our institutions of higher learning set up credible panels to look into this anomaly and terminate the appointments of lecturers found guilty. But whereas these institutions cannot do this, and where they fail to guarantee the safety of students who report such cases, the affected students can report their ordeals to the media who will carry out independent investigations and expose the culprits.
This practice should not be treated with kid gloves and must be treated with the seriousness it deserves, seeing that many students have been made to suffer through no fault of theirs.
The higher institutions are not places where cash and carry business thrives. They are hallowed places from where the leaders of tomorrow are produced. When such potential leaders are deprived of their marks or given undue advantages, the future of the country can only be doomed.
We however commend the few institutions which have managed to contain this phenomenon and urge them to continue to resist it.