Education: Missing marks linked to sex pests in universities
If there is one thing university students are anxious about, it is the end-of-semester exams. Will he or she pass? Will he or she have to repeat? Will he or she graduate?
By end of first semester each year, thousands of students have grade point averages that place their academic status in colleges at risk. In many universities, students are unable to graduate due to issues that are related to missing marks, failing in unit examinations and fees balances.
This is a question that faculty and academic administrators should be asking to help more students graduate while at the same time, make sure students’ academic standards remain high.
Prof Benedict Ongeri of the University of Nairobi’s Department of Economics, says cases of missing marks and delays in releasing results have been common in universities, putting to question the integrity of examination processes.
“This is a danger that can befall any student and it is one that creates a high risk in the academic status of students,” he says.
Marks for sex
Many women students are some male lecturers of withholding their marks in tests and end-of- year exams in a quest for sex. In fact, some of the 500 students of Moi University denied graduation last week say some tutors withheld their marks as bait for sex. They now want the government to probe tactics some male lecturers use for sexual advances in exchange for good marks.
The Moi University women students claim those who refused to play ball with such lecturers’ demands were denied marks resulting in their names missing from the graduation list.
“ I completed my Bachelors degree three years ago but to date I have never graduated after my lecturer hid my examination answer sheet when I refused his sexual advances,” said a female student who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.
Another student, Mercy Kang’ata (not her real name), said cases of missing marks are rampant at the institution, adding that the administration takes no action against the perpetrators of the vice. She asked why majority of the students who miss out on the graduation list on the pretext of missing marks are always women.
“We have raised the issue on several occasions and even tipped off the university management on the perpetrators of the vice, but the institution is yet to act on cases of sexual exploitation of female students at the hands of dons,” said Kang’ata.
However, the university administration has defended its decision to lock out the aggrieved students from the graduation list last week. Public Relations Officer Patricia Cherambos said: “The majority of students crying foul have huge fees balances while others have missing marks”.
Joyce N, a student from another university, having completed her studies in April, was all set for graduation. However, just before graduation in September, she realised she could not graduate as her marks for one unit were missing. Desperately, she started following up the matter with her male lecturer who asked her for “motivation” if she really wanted to get the missing marks.
“I did not really understand what he meant by ‘motivation’ but on asking other students, I was told the lecturer was in the habit of asking for money from male students and a night out from the girls in order to post their missing marks,’’ says the former student who was forced to graduate a year later.
Jennifer (not her real name) faced a similar fate at another university. She had to re-sit a first-year continual assessment test (CAT) after discovering she could not graduate on time due to her “missing marks”.
Tellingly, spokesmen for public universities and several male lecturers we approached declined to comment on the matter. However, Caleb Ratemo, a lecturer at Multimedia University said: “I grade students based on their effort and nothing else. Asking for sex favours is petty. It is my role to guide them and that includes becoming a role model and not compromising my integrity”.
Ratemo says new systems put in place by universities make it difficult for such evil to thrive. “Students do not write names on their answer sheets during exams. The computing system has been programmed such that you can only see a student’s name after you have saved their results. External examiners who ensure that the results have not been compromised,” said the lecturer.
Zachary Ochuro, a student pursing a PhD, accuses some women students of spreading “marks -for-sex” rumours to ruin the reputation of their well-performing peers. —Onkoba Barbara, Winstone Chirchir Mercy Gacheche and Gillian Seka