The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commissioner for Education, Science and Culture, Leopoldo Amado, has said the 'manipulation' of young girls is prevalent in the West African educational system.
Mr Amado said this on Wednesday at the Transparency International sub-regional meeting in Abuja. At the meeting, policy papers on "land corruption" and "corruption in education systems in West Africa" were also presented.
According to him, "the three major kinds of corruption prevalent in the region's education system is manipulation of girls, favoritism when it comes to admission into higher institutions and sex-for-marks."
Mr Amado said young girls often fall prey to teachers, among others, "who make the education sector the worst hit by corruption."
He said the commission has put in place some schemes to prevent the trend and strengthen the educational terrain.
According to him, in order to help vulnerable young girls who may fall prey, a scholarship programme has been put in place.
In his remarks, the Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani, said that learning to read and write is a fundamental right.
A recent 2017 UNESCO report, showed that 38 per cent of African adults were illiterate and two-thirds of these are women.
According to him, having large numbers of girls outside the formal schooling system, "for whatever underlying reasons, brings developmental challenges to both current and future generations."
"Until equal numbers of girls and boys are in school, it would be impossible to wholesomely build the knowledge necessary to eradicate poverty and hunger, combat disease and ensure environmental sustainability.
"Instances of forgeries, seeking of bribes for admission into institutions, cloning of land documents, allocating lands without following due process, land grabbing, sex for marks in higher institutions, discrimination against women, amongst others, are critical issues that need to be addressed across Africa," he said.
'Corruption at basic level'
Transparency International, Africa Regional Advisor, Samuel Kaninda, said the issue of governance must be addressed, "especially corruption, as it affects development at the very basic level."
'Manipulation' of young girls prevalent in West Africa's educational system - ECOWAS Official'Manipulation' of young girls prevalent in West Africa's educational system - ECOWAS Official
He said the organisation is making moves to ensure the implementation of policies on education and land. He assured that the policy will curb the sex-for-marks trend and see to it that teachers pass grades on merit.
The event was attended by delegates from Transparency International chapters from 10 West African countries, the European Union (EU), Canadian High Commission, Transparency International UK, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Nigeria and Dakar, Technical Unit on Governance & Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR) and the MacArthur Foundation.