The Federal and State Government Agencies and Institutions are joining forces in a new inter-agency offensive to stamp out cultism and sex-for-grades in education.
Mr Ike Onyechere, Founding Chairman, Exams Ethic Marshall International (EEMI) disclosed this in a statement made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.
Onyechere noted that it was important to formulate strategic action plans for combating cultism and sex-for-grade in the country’s educational system.
According to him, the first step in the renewed effort is the National Consultative Conference of Education Leaders which is scheduled to hold in Abuja from December 9th to 13th.
He said the forum would facilitate the formulation of the plans which would be implemented under the inter-agency collaborative framework with the Federal Ministry of Education.
“Other agencies involved in supporting and facilitating the consultative conference include Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), National Commission of Colleges of Education (NCCE), Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
” Others are the National University Commission (NUC) and State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), Tertiary Institutions and Education MDAs, Unions and Associations as well as Education Committees of Federal and State Legislative Houses are also participating.
” This consultative forum is a follow-up of the first phase held in Abuja in September in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education which identified cultism and sex-for-grade as catalysts of exam malpractice and “ticking time bombs in the belly of education”.
Onyechere said the menace in our educational system needed to be diffused before they explode and irreparably shatter the system.
He noted that the challenge of cultism in the education system had become existential saying at present, a total of over 40 different cult groups with a total of over 12,000 chapters are operational in campuses across the country.
“At least 10,000 people have been killed in cult-related violence within and outside campuses between 1996 and 2019. Over 100,000 have been injured, harassed, raped, arrested, detained, suspended and expelled.
” Lecturers are intimidated and blackmailed into awarding underserved high grades by cultists fuelling examination malpractice and academic dishonesty.
“The matter is made worse with cult groups moving their operations beyond tertiary institutions into streets and creeks with extensive connections to alumni members in positions of power in academia, politics, business, judiciary and public and private sector organisations who serve as godfathers, sponsors, financiers and protectors.
” Most alarming is the fact that cultism is now spreading fast to primary and secondary schools.”
He added that Sex-for-Grade had become so worrisome to stakeholders in tertiary institutions that the Sexual Harassment Prohibition Legislation Movement was convened under Exam Ethics Marshals on 1st November, 2019 to petition the National Assembly for fast track action on passing the Sexual Harassment Prohibition Bill.
Onyechere said the online petition had already been signed by 5000 people as at the time of this statement with the link https://www.change.org/p/the-national-assemby-abuja-join-the-movement-petititon-against-sex-for-grade-in-tertiary-schools
He said that Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy President of the Senate who is the sponsor of the Sexual Harassment Prohibition Bill which had passed second reading at the Senate had also been invited to address the December Conference on “Understanding and Supporting the Sexual Harassment Prohibition Bill”.
He emphasised that the major outcomes of the conference would include: action plans in terms of specific roles and responsibilities of critical stakeholders; frame work for sustained inter-agency coordination of implementation of action plans, among others.