Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
Two university dons, Prof Patricia Donli of the University of Maiduguri and the University of Lagos’ Dr Akiyode Abiola-Afolabi have advocated a review of the school system which they said encourages sexual abuse and harassment of female students in the country’s tertiary institutions.
The two varsity teachers who spoke to our correspondent at the weekend in Maiduguri on the sideline of a training support for lecturers and administrators on leadership and protection of female students against gender-based violence in tertiary institutions in Borno State, said the current school system provids avenue for sexual exploitation, inducement and abuse of female students by lecturers and non-teaching staff.
“The students are under pressure to pass exams or class tests even when they do not receive enough teachings and mentoring. Many teachers see their positions as more advantageous and they use all these to demand sex for marks. This is what is going on and such cases are still prevalent,” Prof Donli said.
She urged the authorities to develop support system for female students and create referral centres for victims of sexual abuse or sex-for-marks and gender-based violence to report to without fear. She said her experience as head of a university committee on sexual harassment opened her mind on the prevalence of the vice on our tertiary schools.
On her part, Dr Abiola-Afolabi who is the executive director of a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organisation, Women Advocacy Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) the organiser of the training, identified inadequate hostel accommodation, crowded lecture halls, gaps in the legal systems among others as the challenges in the education system that require urgent review and solution.
“When students go for accommodation in the hostels which are mostly inadequate, they are desperate and this gives room for either the porter or any official to harass them sexually,” she stated.
She said many female students fall victims of gender-based violence or are sexually induced while they seek to have private audience with their lecturers over the subject treated in the classroom but which they have difficulty in comprehending due to poor attention in a crowded lecture.
She appealed to the Nigeria University Commission (NUC) and other organs of government regulating tertiary schools in Nigeria to formulate protocol on ways students can meet their lecturers outside of classroom.
She said her centre organised the training because sexual harassment was still prevalent in the nation’s institutions of higher learning. She said the North East has its challenge caused by Boko Haram violence.