Campaign to halt widespread university corruption

An awareness campaign against widespread corruption in universities, which includes bribery by students to get good results, false diplomas and sex to gain promotion, has been launched by CONAC, the national anti-corruption commission.

The Cameroon Tribune collected examples of corruption at the University of Yaoundé 1.

“The main kind of corruption here is the sale of grades by certain teachers. Students whose work is bad get teachers or education officials to improve their grades,” a source named as ‘Basile B’ told the paper.

A teacher said: “Some members of the university community do not hesitate to prostitute themselves to improve their grades, have favourable reports written or get promoted.”

Not far from the university, the neighbourhood of Bonamoussadi had a “well established reputation”. The manager of a barber’s shop in the area told the Cameroon Tribune: “Here, you will easily find people who will provide you with any degree or grade results.”

Other misdemeanours included illegal sharing of electricity between tenants, fraudulent distribution of cable and internet scams, reported the Cameroon Tribune.

CONAC found instances of nepotism, counterfeiting of results, false diplomas, promotions in return for sex, and abuse of power.

Writing in the Cameroon Tribune, Serges Olivier Okole said: “Between the phenomenon of 'sexually transmitted grades', the cases of 277 fraudulent officials identified in 2014 at the University of Yaoundé 1, numerous cases of breach of ethics, honour, university codes of morality within the community as a whole, despicable practices are rife.”

According to the commission, the perception index for corruption in education ranged between 6.5 and 7.5 out of 10. “That indicates it is quite high and it’s very serious,” said Dieudonné Massi Gams, CONAC’s president.

CONAC’s campaign is being held until 6 December, and includes the establishment of 'integrity clubs' in universities and private higher education institutions. In an interview with the Cameroon Tribune, Gams explained the thinking behind the clubs.

“It’s necessary to teach children and show them the right way to behave, and when they grow up they won’t be diverted. If you teach a child from the start that they must not take what does not belong to them, they will understand that a public thing is not a private thing; and learn to earn a diploma, a promotion or a responsible post.

“So for CONAC, university is the laboratory of an individual’s education regarding knowledge and social skills. We depend on students and academics who will be tomorrow’s decision-makers. The integrity clubs will be places of reflection and enlightenment which will ensure future decision-makers are honest in themselves and in their actions.”

Gams said the new penal code covered protection of whistle-blowers who exposed corruption on campus, and it was possible to make denunciations anonymously, and to approach him directly. Telephone numbers and email access to CONAC would be available. If institutions assumed their responsibilities, many flaws would disappear, he said – “financial losses, delays in treatment of applications, publication of results and promotions within the university community”.

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.