Lecturers in BBC sex-for-grades documentary face probe

Two lecturers of the University of Ghana have been interdicted by the Business and Executive Committee of the university after they were featured in a BBC documentary that implicated them in an alleged sex-for-grades scandal, a statement issued by the institution’s public affairs directorate has said.

Head of the European Studies programme, Ransford Edward Gyampo, and a lecturer at the College of Education, Paul Butakor, have been told to appear before the Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee in the next few days in line with the university’s regulations.

Gyampo and Butakor have denied any wrongdoing, with Gyampo claiming that the documentary was “bogus and an attempt by some people to bring me down”. He has promised to sue the BBC.

The documentary was made by BBC Africa Eye which sent undercover journalists posing as students inside the University of Lagos in Nigeria and the University of Ghana.

In a statement the university said it would not shield any employee or student found to have engaged in sexual harassment or misconduct. “No member of the university is considered above the law,” it said.

‘Stereotypical coverage of Africa’

However, reacting to the documentary, Kwesi Yankah, Ghana’s minister of state in charge of tertiary education, described it as “stereotypical” and questioned how many stories that have come from the international media organisations gave a positive image of higher education in Africa.

While acknowledging that the revelations in the documentary are important – “it does not, however, mean we should rest on our oars,” he said.

Yankah also said: "We would rather want to see more refreshing stories about strides that African universities are making, not painting them black.”

Chairperson of the university’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee, Margaret Amoakohene, admitted in an earlier interview on independent radio station, Joy FM, that sexual harassment at the University of Ghana was “pervasive”, not only among lecturers and students but among students and co-workers.

Amoakohene said the committee she heads investigates all reports of sexual harassment brought to its attention but said they “cannot chase after the wind". However, she admitted that there had been cases in the past and those who were found culpable were dismissed. “In some cases of students likely to suffer victimisation, [they] had their scripts sent elsewhere to be marked,” she said in the interview.

Twin evils

Last year, the former director of the Academic Quality Assurance Unit, Esther Odofoley Sakyi-Dawson, told University World News that “sex for grades” and sexual harassment were twin evils that the authorities do not tolerate and had taken steps to fight by putting in place avenues for those who may be victims to seek redress.

Sakyi-Dawson said: “Sex for grades is a no-no and we are strong on that.” She said the institution had produced a policy on sexual harassment which was available to students and staff.

She said the university had created “secure channels” to give people the opportunity to report the perpetrators without fear of reprisal.

“It is an issue we do not take lightly in the quest to keep a high standard for education as well as a sound quality assurance environment,” she said.