Report says Mak dons demand sex from students

Spotlight. Makerere students relax in the Freedom Square. The report recommends a platform for engaging learners. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • Other findings included declining enrollment of international students. According to the Makerere University Fact Book 2016, other than science colleges, which had recorded an increase in enrolment of international students, the rest of the colleges experienced a decline of between eight per cent in 2008/9 and one per cent by 2015/16.
  • The committee attributed the drop to the declining quality of education at Makerere University, the poor image caused by strikes and the university’s inadequately structured and resourced International Office that can hardly provide the required support for international students.

KAMPALA. The Visitation Committee investigating alleged rot at Makerere has pointed out continuous incidents of sexual harassment and exploitation of female students mostly by lecturers as one of the causes that have been triggering incessant strikes at the country’s oldest university.
“The students affirmed that sexual harassment was rampant on campus, and this was either undesired or self-inflicted. The proposals for the status quo range from poor security, intimidation, poor enforcement of university regulations to personal accountability of the victims,” the committee observed in its report presented to President Museveni last week.

The committee was appointed by Mr Museveni in November 2016 to study the cause of persistent strikes and financial mischief at the university. It was chaired by the late Dr Abel Rwendeire.
In the report, the committee says its interaction with the students’ leadership during the investigations revealed that the lecturers are the top perpetuators of sexual harassment and exploitation of female students through intimidation and blackmail.

The report reveals that lecturers sexually exploit female students by uncivil punishments such as confiscating their mobile phones or demanding that they present their course work in person at specified places, which exposes the learners to sexual harassment.
In November last year when the new Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, assumed office, he vowed to fight the sex-for-marks scam and promised to set up communication channels for affected female students to report the vice.
The report states that lecturers often demand sex from the female students in exchange for marks which has become a common practice in some of the university’s constituent colleges. The committee observed that the vice has persisted at the university for many years.

Security loopholes
The committee further noted that sexual abuse against female students is escalated by inadequate security lighting at the campus which increases insecurity due to dark walkways, ignorance or naivety of some students, poor enforcement of university policies.
In other instances, female students are forced into sex or sexually abused when they visit their male counterparts in the latter’s halls of residence at campus or hostels for academic discussions.
However, the female students were also blamed.

The report says some female students wear sexually provocative dresses that tempt or entice the lecturers and male students to make sexual advances to them.
The committee recommended that the university creates a platform for engaging students, parents, guardians, university administration and strengthen the “grievance management system” for students.
On Wednesday, Prof Nawangwe said he would not make further comments on the findings of the committee until the 11-member taskforce appointed by the university to study the report has given its official response.

“I have appointed a committee to draft the university’s response to the findings and recommendations of the visitation committee, which handed its report to President and visitor to Makerere University on December 29, 2017. The committee will carefully study the recommendations and guide the University Council and management accordingly. It is important that issues concerning Africa’s most prestigious university are handled with utmost seriousness,” Prof Nawangwe said.
The committee partly attributed the persistent student strikes to the pathetic state of halls of residence.
The committee said the walls are leaking in majority of the halls. It asked government to draw plans for expeditious rehabilitation of all the halls of residence.

The committee further cited absenteeism of lecturers. It singled out part-time lecturers as the biggest culprits.
It further observed that some lecturers are absent either due to sickness, advanced age or arrogance towards students.
It was also noted that the money the university spends on students for meals is little.
The committee noted that the university had spent Shs1.6b on meals for students in the last two years.

However, the committee said the university payments were not verified by supporting documents to prove accountability.
The payments were supported by the total number of students ‘expected’ or ‘planned’ to receive the services instead of the actual number of students who received the services.
The committee noted that using ‘expected’ rather than ‘actual’ numbers creates a risk of paying for meals not consumed as students attendance is not consistent every day.