Kaduna and Abuja — The spate of teacher malpractices in Kaduna Polytechnic, including sexual abuse, doctoring in exams and falsification of documents, has come under the spotlight as acts detrimental to the education pursuit of students and capable of corrupting values in the wider society.
The account that many lecturers have failed to meet expected standards of practice, with a number of them extorting monies as well as having sexual affairs with their students has compelled the new management to impose sanctions, including terminating the appointments of those found guilty of serious misconduct or posed a threat to the health and safety of students in their educational pursuit in the institution. Findings at the institution revealed that the effort of the rector, Professor Idris Bugaje, to rid it of all kinds of educator misconduct has seen some heads rolling already.
The management has frowned at the bad behavior by personnel such as truancy, selling handouts, extortion of money and harassment by teaching and non-teaching staff of the polytechnic.
At a recent Rector to Students' interaction held in the school, Prof Bugaje urged the students to join in the fight, assuring them of proper investigation and punishment of offenders when reported. He also assured them of protection from victimization. He crowned it all with promise of reward for genuine whistle blowers.
To address these, the management has introduced the 'Whistle Blowing Provision and Guidelines 2018', to help expose all doers of evil in the polytechnic.
The rector disclosed that policy has kicked off in earnest, noting that some lecturers have been arrested and punished for extorting money from students, a Head of Department dismissed and another lecturer arrested in a hotel facing a charge of sexual harassment and was facing the disciplinary committee. "We shall boot him out if found guilty," he said, adding that all lecturers absent from classrooms last semester were queried.
Meantime, the polytechnic community has adjudged the fight against bad behaviors in the institution as worthwhile, saying a serene atmosphere for learning is now gradually being created in the polytechnic.
A former ASUP chairman of Kadpoly, Comrade Mustapha Y. Bida, said the fight is not restricted to only contract corruption but also on the general moral and well being of the polytechnic.
"It is quite disheartening that some of our colleagues have been engaged in unholy practices. The whistle blowing exercise is worthwhile as it has exposed so many bad behaviors and it will help reduce such acts in the future," he said.
He however noted that punishments should not be restricted to lecturers only, saying lecturers too should be given opportunity to blow the whistle on lazy students who approached them for unnecessary favour or who try to enticed them.
"So far, so good, there has been reasonable headway and there will be much more if the fight continues sincerely," he said while commending the rector and the current management for the move to sanitize the system.
A staff of the polytechnic who was an ex-student confirmed that a certain HOD of Chemical Engineering had been dismissed after he was found guilty of collecting money and allowing students who did not write their exams well to re-write. He also said some lecturers and other staff have been issued query and warning letters for one misbehaviour or the other.
"I think I like what is happening as staff are very dedicated to their work now unlike what was obtainable in the past. Students are also heaving sigh of relief now because no lecturer can force them to buy handout or textbook.
"The rector has warned that if any of them authored a textbook, he should keep a copy in the library where anybody can read it and those interested can buy but it. It must not be forced on any student. I wish I enjoyed such protection when I was a student," he said.
A student of the polytechnic who does not want his name mentioned appreciated the new policy, saying the system is institution is becoming sanitized. "Now, lecturers come to classrooms promptly, even in the rain, they come and the selling of handouts has reduced drastically," he said.
Professor Bugaje, as part of his reforms, has introduced a unit called the Policy and Transparency Unit (PTU), which tries to improve the system of the polytechnic by checking both financial and academic corruption.
With the effort of the PTU, a software was put up that allows every income of the polytechnic to be visible to every stakeholder including leaders of the unions, members of the Governing Council while others can also monitor what the polytechnic gets and how it spends it. This makes the flow of financial information available to everybody.
The unit, according to the rector in a recent interview, is investigating cases of certificate forgery. "We have gotten two staff already on suspension because of that while the matter is being investigated and may eventually involve the police.
"If you cannot ensure the sanctity of exams, then there is no need to even run a school and if anybody can get a certificate without attending the polytechnic, then, we will become a laughing stock and we will be endangering the society by allowing this kind of persons to infiltrate the society," Bugaje said.
The rector said the management is gradually addressing security challenges in the students' hostels. A student has confirmed this, saying security around their hostel is tighter than it used to be.