Developed countries attained their present status by making the best of their human resources, and training them to become productive members of their respective societies. In Nigeria, despite the hubbub about moving from third world to first world status, our human capital development strategy is abysmal. Why else would our ivory towers be bastions of neglect and reprehensible evil?
Last week, The Punch Newspaper ran a story that focused on Auchi Polytechnic, one of the numerous tertiary institutions in Nigeria. In this story, the polytechnic was alleged to have transformed into a huge glorified brothel. Lecturers were alleged to demand money from students before such students can pass their courses. Interviewed students also alleged that lecturers (male) demand “sex for passing”, leading to a thriving commercial sex industry covering male students, female students, students’ girlfriends and external prostitutes.
After using “alleged” severally, it would seem like this is just another unproven allegation. However, I have spoken with some graduates of the school, and they confirmed the allegations published by The Punch. Some female graduates even alleged that some perverted lecturers require anal sex as a route to getting good grades. Although a representative of the school management told The Punch that the school takes extortion and sexual harassment very seriously, and awaits reports from students, both past and present students agree that the school is simple playing to the gallery. Some lecturers are so “larger than life” that no one dares spill the beans, knowing that the cook would not even consider the rottenness of the spilled beans.
Although The Punch focused on Auchi Polytechnic, the occurrences there are representative of an entrenched malaise in the Nigerian educational system. From colleges of education, to polytechnics, to universities, systemic “educational corruption” stymies proper development of much of Nigeria’s talent. In some places, it is so rampant, that it becomes one of the cancerous pillars of such schools, essentially made an official culture. In some other places, it is not so widespread, but it still exists. I spent a good part of my undergraduate years believing that educational corruption did not exist in my school. My trust was shaken when I heard of corrupt incidences in some faculties and departments. If Great Ife, with its “glorious” reputation can suffer from educational corruption, what would one say about “less glamorous” schools?
Educational corruption is one of the factors entrenching corruption in the society. It is both a cause, and a result of widespread corruption in Nigeria. When smart students are forced to believe that talent is useless, that they have to pay in cash or kind in order to pass courses, it builds gradual loss of confidence. With time, these students would see diligence and hard work as a waste of time and effort. Why bother to read when your grades are independent of your level of studiousness? After educational corruption has cracked these students, when they graduate, they so without any moral resolve, making them susceptible to corrupt requests. Who suffers this? Nigeria!
Hypocritically, lecturers are quick to accuse politicians of corruption, and argue that the educational system is grossly underfunded. While these accusations are true, they fail to look inwards at their own contributions to the behemothian corruption. Instead of focusing on grooming knowledgeable, astute graduate, many focus on fighting for administrative positions in order to get some of the corrupt pie. This corruption is killing the educational system, yet, the concerned parties sanctimoniously look elsewhere, burying their heads, like ostriches in the sand.
While Nigeria proceeds in this “fight against corruption”, all eyes must not be on the politicians alone. Politicians represent Nigeria; they are drawn from different sectors of the country. If we fight the politicians, without addressing their breeding factories, a new set of smarter corruptionists would simply replace the ejected set. The ivory towers are part of the corrupt factories conglomerate. They need systemic cleansing to suppress the engrained evil, and produce the qualified human capital needed to develop Nigeria.
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