By far the greatest killer of education in tertiary institutions in modern Nigeria is the sex/gratification-for-marks syndrome. It is a situation where lecturers demand sexual or monetary gratification from students in return for marks. While it is mostly the female students that are made to offer sex, the males are required to pay certain amounts of money. Failure to sleep with, or pay the lecturers usually results in such students failing their exams. Such extortions come in other guises too. Oftentimes students contribute money to pay their project supervisors, just as they are forced to buy lecturers’ textbooks in other instances. Sometimes too, students are asked to buy such things as plasma television, air conditioners, electricity generators and refrigerators, among others, for their lecturers or face a backlash.
Sometimes it does not matter whether the victims are brilliant. The lecturers involved, somehow contrive to fail them; citing such excuses as missing scripts and others.
Lazy, desperate or rich students have keyed into this to give such lecturers what they want as long as they also get what they want: marks. There is no doubt that this syndrome is killing education faster than anything as undeserving students who can meet their lecturers’ demands get high grades and graduate without meriting the certificates they possess.
Concerned Nigerians have been condemning this phenomenon but their condemnations have achieved very little, either because the institutions are not addressing the issue properly, or those involved have developed a foolproof way of evading detection.
But after the British Broadcasting Corporation’s release of its ground breaking documentary on sexual harassment and molestation in several West African universities, including Nigeria, through undercover reporters, hope has risen that this monster can finally be contained.
It is on the back of this that some well-meaning ex-students of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), took it upon themselves to liberate their institution from the shackles of such syndrome by conducting their own investigations into such practices in their alma mater.
From the findings and testimonies they gathered from their former and current female students, they discovered that such acts were predominant in some departments (names withheld).
They also claimed to have identified some lecturers, neck deep in such acts, whose names they made public on the social media.
They said the lecturers involved had sexually harassed a huge percentage of female students under their care, while witch-hunting those that refused their sexual advances.
As a solution to the menace, they recommended the mounting of Close Circuit Television, CCTV cameras, in and around the staff offices.
They appealed to the University Management to deal ruthlessly with lecturers found guilty, even as they signaled their readiness to organize seminars for students to highlight the evils of sex-for-grades syndrome to the students.
We have nothing but praise for these ex-students who have taken the bull by the horns to fight this menace in a manner that we deem very effective.
We urge other former students of the various institutions, as well as civil society organizations, to emulate this example. While this happens, we urge the Management of the various institutions where this may be replicated to not just cooperate but to descend hard on lecturers found guilty of such offences.
Our tertiary institutions should remain centres of excellence and not where certificates are traded for sex and money. It is the only way the country can hope to produce future good leaders.