Sex for Marks Scandal: Focus must go beyond Institutions of Higher Learning

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The undercover journalist, Kikki Mordi of the BBC, who brought to light what has now been trademarked  as ‘Sex for marks’ in the nation’s citadel of learning, has without a doubt opened a can of worms.  Nigerians and indeed the world were alarmed to learn that   female students are no longer being groomed and honed in both character and learning in the nation’s institutions of higher learning but are being turned into objects  of a noxious practice of exchanging sex for marks by some irresponsible lecturers.

Though the nation may be losing it on many fronts, of all the ills that have befallen the country, the most damaging may well be what is happening to the education sector. This is underscored by what a lecturer in a South African University reportedly posted on the entrance to the University for his students to contemplate on:

“Collapsing any Nation does not require use of Atomic bombs or the use of Long range missiles. But it requires lowering the quality of Education and allowing cheating in the exams by the students.
“The patient dies in the hands of the doctor who passed his exams through cheating.
“And the buildings collapse in the hands of an engineer who passed his exams through cheating.
“And the money is lost in the hands of an accountant who passed his exams through cheating.
“And humanity dies in the hands of a religious scholar who passed his exams through cheating.
“And justice is lost in the hands of a judge who passed his exams through cheating.
“And ignorance is rampant in the minds of children who are under the care of a teacher who passed exams through cheating.
“The collapse of education is the collapse of the Nation

The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation because without integrity, nothing can stand as something cannot be built on nothing. The moral decadence exposed in our tertiary institutions by the documentary therefore raises grave concern and should worry all patriotic citizens.

Truly, the vulnerability of the students, especially the female students, is real as many are under pervasive psychological control in many instances. Sometimes called psychological intrusiveness, psychological control in this context, is the extent to which some lecturers negatively try to control the students’ emotionality. The core of psychological control is that it assaults the students’ self-esteem and exploits their helplessness. Some female students may even become suicidal because of the harrowing experience of sexual harassment if they are unable to cope with the pressure.  Sadly many of our institutions lack mechanisms for early detection of this malaise and necessary intervention.

It must be pointed out that what was discovered by the BBC undercover journalist at the University of Lagos is not an isolated case. It obtains in other tertiary institutions in the country as well, perhaps down also to secondary schools. What is more, the unfortunate practice has been around for quite a while and actually mirrors what is happening in the wider society.  Of course not all the girls harassed are victims as some, such as the so-called ‘Runs girls’, (or student prostitutes to put it more coarsely), who hardly attend lectures literally throw themselves at their lecturers in exchange for marks.

While not justifying the moral depravity pervading the nation’s institutions of Higher learning, TNC is calling attention to the fact that what was unearthed at the University of Lagos is not an isolated case and as such, efforts at finding solutions will fail if the focus is only on educational institutions.

Solutions should start from homes. Parents have to teach their children emotional intelligence – so that their daughters will be better able to handle such threats in their schools and other places. Many female students are vulnerable for lack of social skills, a deficit which they carried to school from home.Additionally, institutions across the country should emulate the example of the University of Lagos, which quickly raised a task force to tackle the ‘sex for marks’ peril reported by the BBC undercover reporter. Protecting girls from sexual harassment should be seen as part of measures for protecting the weak and vulnerable in our society.  Sexual predators, in all facets of our national life, must not be allowed to go scot free.

Finally, the moral crisis rocking the Nigerian national life needs to be confronted head-on. It is time the federal government considered re-launching Ethical Revolution to restore integrity and morality to national life as no nation can survive, let alone develop,  without integrity and morality.



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