Africa We Want : 2063 is Now

Education is considered to be the greatest key to success. But one must be willing to sacrifice their whole if they are to open doors of success with education. 

Sleepless night of studying, missing meals to attend lectures, and sometimes balancing schedules to write assignments, conduct research and study for continuous assessment tests. This is the everyday ordeal that students in university face.

It is an exhilarating experience to be in college or university. It is a whole new experience of life that opens many doors for students. The vast tanks of diverse knowledge offer students a variety of schools of life to learn from. It is a community where we learn about the world and its dynamics from different perspectives. 

Studying and making good grades is the lifeblood in tertiary education. Many students boast good grades and it’s quite a huge milestone and beautiful experience to pass exams and clear courses to go to the next semester.

However, between these walls of universities is a dark world hinged to the academic life of some students. One can say there is a market where sex is exchanged for grades.

Many young female students have found themselves in this predicament, either as victims of abuse or as victimizers who carry bottom power on them. In some instances, a transactional operation where both parties, the student and lecturer consent to having sex in exchange for grades to pass a course happens.

The diabolical activity has been on the rampant rise in universities in most African countries.

Last year in November, the BBC Africa Eye released an undercover documentary dubbed ‘Sex for Grades’ which drew massive attention across the continent. The documentary carried out by BBC Africa Eye investigative journalists, unearthed some of the darkest sexual harassments on campus in two of Africa’s most prestigious universities in West Africa.

Delicate and heart-wrenching, sex for grades is quite a complex topic to demystify because there are many factors that are hinged to this dark world of academic life. 

Observational studies in learning institutions in many African countries have shown that quite a number of students engage less in studies and more in social activities hence finding it difficult to pass their exams or continuous assessments. Such students have little time to prepare for exams. As a result, they fail to get good grades, hence throwing themselves in a risky situation where they offer sex to lecturers in order to pass the course.

However, the focus is on students who are forcefully thrown into this diabolical predicament because the repercussions of sexual abuse and harassment in universities do more damage than we see it on the surface.

Some students have complained of being failed intentionally by lecturers because they did not accept to offer themselves for sex. 

One student I had a chat with lamented how she failed a course she adequately prepared for. But after enquiring from the lecturer how she had failed the course, the lecturer said to her that he can either make her pass or make her fail. The final decision was with him. He added that if she would accept sleeping with him, she would get good grades, even better than the entire class. 

Many female students have been marked unfairly because they did not agree to exchange sex for grades and this has proved to have a great negative effect on students. It’s like denying you the right to education because someone demands to have a piece of your body so that you can have access to what is already yours.

Students who have been victims of sexual harassment often have a traumatic academic life because for someone to demand sex in exchange for good grades undermines every effort they put into their studies and the vast knowledge they poses. 

Some students come from poor backgrounds and it is a real struggle for them to make it by supporting themselves through various income generating activities. They invest so much in getting their degrees, diplomas, PhDs etc. only for a lecturer to demand for sex or else he would make them fail. 

Studies have shown that many female students who have been victims of sexual abuse in exchange for grades have mental health challenges such as depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or even leading to suicide. Some have lost self-confidence in themselves because they believe that even if they put more effort into their studies to pass a particular course, the lecturer would still want to have a relationship with them in order to make them pass. 

Lazy students who find an easy way out by engaging in sexual activities with lecturers in exchange for good grades have to be condemned and counseled so that they can achieve their success without selling their body. 

University administrations and educational bodies need to put up measures to address the misconduct of lecturers involved in sexual harassment and abuse of female students. Students should deservedly boast their academic progress without any coercion from lecturers to exchange sex for grades. It’s an unforgivable atrocity to the religion of education.  



Written by

Chanda Chongo

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