I would rather not name names in this article. The matter under consideration has been in the public domain, and would make sense to those who relate to the headline. The investigation these days, where hidden cameras bug subjects of inquiry, makes it hard for the subjects to deny glaring pictures and facts. Social media has widened the scope of journalism, in spite of the infusion of fake news in the process.
Citizen reporting has gained ascendancy. Phone cameras now record policemen taking bribes, drinking in beer parlours and fighting on the streets with colleagues over sharing formula, beating innocent civilians and so forth. Citizen reporting has become so prime that some law enforcement agents confiscate phones found in the vicinity of their operation.
But such recordings are discreet ventures to the chagrin of the victim, or when the victims are set up as happened in the recent work by a British Broadcast Corporation journalist who set up a lecturer at a university I would rather not name. A governor was also recorded collecting dollars but the evidence came to nothing when it mattered.
The said lecturer invited the “student” to his office to give her the cold room experience. The investigation spread to Ghana, where another lecturer was implicated. This is on the heels of the sack of another lecturer in a Nigerian university after his student had recorded their conversation, revealed same to the public, and implicated the man for demanding sexual gratification in exchange for marks.
As I have noted, these things are in the public domain, and they are not a strange societal misdemeanor. Male lecturers have tended to see female students as tools to satisfy their biological needs as pertains to sex. But they seem to intimidate the students into submission, which invalidates arguments that both are consenting adults. One ofthe dangers of that prevalent situation, wherein students get cold room treatment, as exemplified in the BBC video, is that the students know they can have their way if they do the bidding of thepredatory lecturers.
The greater implication, for which I have the feeling that Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb, is that people can get whatever they want in the educational sector by paying for it. The converse scenario to that video is that female students also offer themselves to sexually gratify their teachers in exchange for grades. There was the case of one lecturer who I would not name, given the resolve not to name names here, who spent his sabbatical from a university in America in our University of Cold Room, who reported that he was also sexually harassed by students who told him on his decline of their offer that his colleagues gladly take the offer. He reported the matter in this newspaper column. No one took the matter beyond that report, but the concept of punishment in bribery and gratification is that the giver is as guilty as the taker.
Our society is sitting on a time bomb on account of this and related rot in the educational sector. In secondary schools, it is an open secret that some schools organise to help their students cheat during public examinations, in order to give the erroneous imression that the school is topnotch, going by the equally false results that the students cannot defend.
Private schools do that to shore up their profile, and thus attract more patronage from parents, who, ironically, turn a blind eye to such practices that make their children half baked. These same parents would organise that their children take the university entrance examinations in ‘miracle centres’ to enter the university.
The wrath continues to the university, where some private universities ensure that the students graduate in due time irrespective of their performance and standard. Some private universities stand out in discipline and academics, just as some secondary schools, but they seem to be in the minority.
Regulatory bodies in this sector need to overhaul their monitoring mechanism so that we do not have graduates who ‘settled’ their way through school. This is even more worrying because parents wilfully aid and abet these things. I was baffled to see a parent kneel to beg my vice chancellor for a boy who was handed one semester suspension for cheating in examination. The VC stood his ground and threatened that any further appeal could lead to expulsion. The parent was sowing a terrible seed in the boy if he had escaped with the act. He could have cheated his way through school and turned out a fake certificate holder given that he knows nothing about the discipline he is presumed to have studied.
The VC in question is just one among many. He admonished the parent that the student would be lost for good if he does not serve the punishmentfor cheating because he would see it as a way of life. Some schools, in their desperation for students, may have treated such acts with kid gloves. The boy who cheated may have come through the mill I described above, which would have turned him out to a vulnerable society had he not been stopped in his tracks.
Maybe the parent who came to beg bought the boy’s way through conniving schools and miracle centres. Now the chicken has come home to roost.
Education is so fundamental a tenet in development index that no sane government would treat it with levity. Private and public secondary schools and universities who engage in such compromise must face the book.
Young girls in university who offer themselves for marks should be punished with the teacher who indulges them to avoid a circle that eventually spirals into the society.
The ugly signs now show across the polity, and if it continues we would have doctors who would literally kill their patients and other professionals whose certificates are not worth the paper they are printed on. It is beyond the cold room video. Education is sinking. We must rescue it.