A friend of mine, several years ago was a graduate assistant in a South Western university. He was beside himself at the way female students were throwing themselves at him. He must have had his hands full at the time and beaconed to his close friends to come have some in a bid to satisfy the deluge of offers of sex for grades from the female students.

In his youthful exuberance at the time, we may have laughed over it over as part of the pegs of office, but our educational standards started waning when female students found an easier way out of passing their exams. It is interesting how a law student, for example would pay sex for grades for sixteen law courses over a period of four to five years, perhaps through ten or more lecturers. Or perhaps she would read for some of the courses and buy some paying sex for grades to become a graduate? What sort of “graduate” lawyer would we have produced in such a scenario?

I do not recall any student’s script(s) being remarked or re-examined, scrutinized, because a student scored an A, under the suspicion that perhaps she may have paid sex for grades. It is usually if there was a protest against undeserving grades. Once a lecturer has graded his students, that’s final. Grades are published after approval by the School’s Senate.

Some have made bold to say that education is not the true test of knowledge. They’ve argued that education is a means to an end and not an end by itself. I worry, because I’ve interacted with so many supposed “graduates” and even undergraduates, the level and standard of spoken English is applauding. Watch any Pulse TV Strivia with Chuey Chu and have a feel of how some graduates and adults struggle to spell words we often take for granted.

so many years ago, I was heading an Interview Panel to recruit entry level staff for a Bank in Nigeria. I came across this result from one of the applicants/ candidates- yes, a female applicant/ candidate. She scored virtually all As in her West African Schools Certificate Examinations. I was intrigued by the fact that she scored A in English Literature, whereas I was virtually the best in my class at the time but scored a C4!.

In that excitement, I started to engage the young applicant, hoping to have some intellectual stimulation in English Literature. She appeared very blank when I was discussing drama texts like Othello, Merchant of Venice, Tempest, Romeo & Juliet, Trials of Brother Jero and the likes. I was embarrassed for her to say the least. So I stepped it down a bit and hoped to discuss her views on the popular question Julius Caesar question; whether Julius Caesar was stronger in death than alive and why?

This A graduate applicant student in English Literature was just staring into space, lost. She had no idea what I was going on about, let alone quoting famous lines in Julius Caesar. Frustrated, and trying to safe the embarrassment caused by my earlier excitement at the Interview Panel, I just asked the lady to at least tell me who wrote the drama text , Julius Caesar. She looked at the ceiling boards for help and said she used to know it with a finger held by her clenched teeth as though she had truly forgotten what was obvious, she never knew. Needless to say that we walked her out and the panel interview session and she just scored a big zero with several comments that she was not able to defend her grades.

We were thrown into inquiry at this point how it was possible for a graduate to have more than 7As in School Certificate Examination, yet couldn’t defend the grades or at least discuss intelligently on any subject at an interview for a job!? A panel member enlightened us by informing that in the Nigerian educational system of today, grades were for sale. The male students paid equivalent of USD$840 or more, while the female students paid money and sometimes sex for grades or both.

We were further informed that students no longer saw the need to be studious in school. A further excuse was given of lecturers who were owed salaries for months and they made do by selling handouts and in addition would accept sex for grades. 

In a bid to confirm this discussion, the next applicant candidate to the same interview panel also had 7As and a distinction in Banking & Finance from a Nigerian Polytechnic. His was worse than the first candidate, because he couldn’t even construct a correct sentence. We just sat back in amazement watching a candidate with distinction wrestle with tenses. He was looking at expressions on our faces as a hint on whether he was constructing the tenses properly. It was riddled with expressions like “sha”, “shei you understand”? “You know sha”… It was like a scene out of Jenifa’s Diari. He managed to explain that with distinction he was an accountant at a pure water factory.

I asked if he was surprised that (with distinction, having “studied” banking and finance and attended over seven interviews) he was not hired? The young man owned up, by admitting that the distinction was neither his efforts nor grades at the examinations. He confirmed that he paid his way through school.

So, while he may not have sold sex for grades, there’s also money for grades. Before we begin to shout to high heavens that there are millions of graduates out of school and there are no jobs, let’s begin to examine the quality of graduates being churned out of schools.

A private school, worried that its successful candidates’ performance(s) at the Junior West African Examination, was less than 10% invited a consultant to evaluate, appraise and give a considered report on what he perceived the issues where. The consultant interacted with the lecturers and immediately knew what the problem was. To proof it to the Directress, he set the same Junior Examination for all the lecturers and they all failed. The Directress was shocked. The question then was, how could the lecturers teach what they themselves did not know ? The school fired more than 75% of the teachers.

These days, there are no more Teachers Training Colleges and Schools no longer set exams for employment. Something similar happened in Kaduna State of Nigeria where nearly all the teachers were sacked for not passing an entrance examination. In Edo State of Nigeria, the erstwhile Governor discovered a female lecturer couldn’t spell a very simple term in a meeting. She tried to gloss over it but the Governor would not have of it. He asked her to spell it and she couldn’t. I do not recall what actions he took.

So where do we begin to fix our educational system? How do we teach or female students hard work and to desist from sex for grades? It is scary to begin to evaluate the thousands of graduates in the society today to ascertain the quality of education they obtained and or if there were any sex for grades or grades for sex practiced.

But is all hopes lost? No! There are still a few good men of honor. When we were in Law School in the 1990s. We heard a rumor that one of the examination question papers may have leaked. We had a very randy lecturer who made no pretenses about accepting sex for grades. There were at least two lecturers to each course who were expected to set six questions per exam section. The Director of Studies of blessed memories had the prerogative to select any three per section of the questions. The lecturer’s integrity was not supposed to be in doubt. Wrong!! The randy lecturer “freely” sold his six sex for grades questions. I don’t know where he took the “payment”, but his office was a beehive of activities after hours. So we arrived in the morning for our examinations. We were told there would be an hour thirty minutes delay to the commencement of the examinations.

The Director of Studies had reset completely new questions and gone to the Security Printing and Minting, Victoria Island, Lagos to reprint the question papers. He did this for all the exams and this completely derailed all those who had paid sex for questions/ grades. Of course the failure rate was very high. The hard working students like us who had burnt the mid night oil had no issues with all that. One of the culprits later recounted how she was thrown off balance by the new questions and she had to go to the bathroom to cry for nearly an hour because she knew she had failed. She failed. Woefully too. She had to use other means. She was advised to go sit down and study for her referral exams as the only option.

…to be continued. 

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