Lecturers promise to end extortion of students on campuses
Tiamiyu Saheed Oluwatosin
Stakeholders in some tertiary institutions in Lagos have agreed to stem the tide of unwholesome developments on their campuses so as to return them to their pride of place.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) over the weekend when it visited the University of Lagos(UNILAG), Yaba College of Technology and the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin in Lagos.
They said they were making efforts individually and collectively to stop cultism, extortion, exploitation, sexual harassment sales of course hand-outs and irrelevant text books as well as other vices on their campuses.
Lecturers had been alleged of being involved in sexually harassing their students, extorting monies and other inducements from them before they would pass them or made to but handouts that were not relevant to their courses.
Dr Adelaja Odukoya, Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos chapter, told NAN that the union was aware that there were reports of incessant sexual harassment against female students , extortion and intimidation of students by lecturers in universities across the country.
As stated by him, reports of such were becoming a common place in tertiary institutions in the country but he noted that the development must be tackled headlong if the country intends to attain its quest for qualitative and sound educational environment.
“Here in the University of Lagos, we frown at such things and tend to deal with it with all seriousness.
“Basically, there are standards and ethics expected to be seen in every university environment or any other institutions of higher learning.
“As lecturers, we must be seen as parents and role models to all the students and again we must realise that no lecturer is above the
law of the university. By virtue of this, it is only necessary that we come up with a code of conduct that will constantly check lecturers’ actions .
“Lecturers must strive to be the custodians of morals given the kind of environment within which they operate,’’ he said.
Adedoja said that lecturers must be able to comport themselves with a degree of self-esteem and integrity at all times in order to win the respect of the general public.
He noted that lecturers must also exhibit high moral standards in dealing with students ,especially the female students, in order to guarantee them secure and conducive teaching and learning environments.
“It also behooves on us to keep sensitising our members on the need to promote cordial teacher-student relationship at all time.
“We will also ensure through our various chapters that we will equally come down hard on any of our members who will want to take advantage of the students in an inappropriate way.
“As an academic body, we will not want to do anything that bring the name of the union or the university to disrepute as there are disciplinary committees that have equally been set aside to look into such matters,” he said.
Adekoya said that ASUU would continue to sensitise its members on the need to sustain cordial student-lecturer relationship.
Also, Mr Austin Okoh, the immediate past chairman, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP), Yaba College of Technology,Lagos, said that the authorities of the college have been doing all within its power to prevent crises on the campus.
Okoh said that the authorities had been operating an open door policy to ensure that issues that could lead to industrial dispute were promptly addressed by the stakeholders.
“In the area of sustaining peace on the campus, the management has really tried.
“There are crises on campus related to infrastructure, cultism, incessant power failure , insecurity and lack of water; the management of this institution has been trying to address.
“Sometimes, students would want to hide under the guise of incessant power failure to disrupt proposed semeter’s examination giving the excuse that they cannot study in the dark.
The school authorities have always addressed such agitations before they get out of hand, he said.
“The authorities of the college ensure that everything is in order ones the examination period is approaching to forestall anything that can disrupt it.’’
Okoh said that sexual harassment by lecturers was not common in Yaba College of Technology when compared with other tertiary institutions.
.“Sexual harassment of female students is not very common here on our campus and when such incidents are reported , the college has its mechanism in place to address them immediately.
“We have the senior staff investigation committee and the junior staff investigation committee, anytime such issue is reported, we direct it to the right committee.
“We have competent hands to handle such cases because the authorities are very concerned about anything that borders on sexual harassment .
“This is usually handled with the seriousness it deserves and culprits are brought to book after they must have faced the disciplinary committee.
He said that the authorities of the college had been very committed in eradicating cultism on the campus.
“It is not easy to wipe it off the system completely but the authorities have made efforts and must be commended.
“The security and awareness campaign is in top gear; many students had been killed or slain in the past by cult members who mostly came from outside the institutions to attack,’’ Okoh said.
Also, Mr Simeon Fowowe, Head of Department Early Childhood , Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, said that the issue of cultism at the college was becoming a thing of the past.
Fowowe said that the college authorities in 2010 introduced the Campus Martial specially trained to cope with cultism. Since then ,there has been relative peace on campus.
“Perhaps, if there are crises, it will be outside the campus ,” he said.
The lecturer said that to end the breakdown of ethics among students, there should be a synergy between the home and the school or what he called “home -school synergy’’.
Here, parents and school authorities should always engage themselves in effective communications on the progress or otherwise of the students as a feedback mechanism, Fowowe said .
Fowowe said that his department, the Early Childhood Department, had put in place some measures to checkmate total breakdown of ethics.
As stated by him, at every matriculation, the school authorities asked new students to submit their parents’ contact addresses to it which they do willingly without knowing the reason.
“At every matriculation day, the parents of the new intakes and members of the department do have a meeting.
“Right there, we exchange addresses and strategise on the betterment of the department, ” Fowowe said.
Fowowe said that corruption in the academia goes beyond the exploitation of students and the selling of course handout or irrelevant text books to them, adding that the college had placed a ban on the sales of handout or textbooks to its students since 2008.
He said that the corruption that existed in the academic sector ranges from lecturers not completing the course contents before the conduct of examinations .
“There are some perceived difficult courses that at times require a synergy from another department.
“But some arrogant lecturers who go about in an “all knowing posture” will not partner other departments with relevance in such courses to teach the perceived difficult courses.
“What they do is to gloss over the courses thereby teaching it haphazardly, that is corruption of the highest order,” he said.
Fowowe, in spite of that, said that cases of harassment of students by lecturers could not be ruled out but that any lecturers caught should be punished by either through demotion in rank, stagnation for three years, ostracised or placed on half salary for a given period.
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