A Quest To Teach & Learn With Integrity (3)

Read the first two parts here I II

Nowadays, of the many students who graduate from high schools and universities, only few can truly prove they deserve what they got. This shows how our teachers have chosen to be the direct opposite of what being a teacher is supposed to be. Teachers are no longer allowing students to grow and develop through challenges and failure – the space is no longer built for our students to succeed. When students are not doing well, teachers choose to take their money or their bodies in exchange for grades instead of helping them grow academically. Our students are gaining “successes”, but failed ones. Most graduate without  any regard for copyrights and as a result, they plagiarize other people’s ideas and works, because they were never truly taught how to do the right thing. I had no idea about the implications of plagiarism until I was introduced to it at SMART Liberia during my one year in their Education Advancement Program, and later learned more about it after coming to Manchester. 

I have learned that life is more than just knowing the difference between a pen and a paper; it is more than just striving to put food on the table daily; it is more than just passing through the walls of high school(s) or university and waiting for someone to marry you. Unfortunately, some female students would not realize this until they start using their head instead of their bodies or money. 

I was devastated after watching the Syrian Civil War as many underprivileged girls are yearning for the opportunity to be educated. Girls as early as fourteen are getting married without any hope of gaining an education. Go to Pakistan, girls like Malala Yousafzai, are risking their lives just to get the education that is their right. Go to Iraq, girls like Nadia Murad are standing up against major terrorist groups and advocating for their rights against sexual violence. Coming to our own local setting, we have girls like Satta Sheriff, who are constantly involved in advocacy against injustices and domestic violence. She currently serves as a tangible role model for most Liberian girls, especially since we were all nurtured in the same system. With all this happening around the world, why can’t we see the reasons as to why we should stand up for ourselves to eliminate sex and cash for grades? Or, are we only good at complaining in the light but in the darkness, we get involved in those malpractices? We should be asking ourselves what makes others different from us, and why are they contributing to the development of society better than we are. 

Young students are impressionable, young and immature; they need guidance and mentorship from our teachers. Unfortunately, because they get the opposite of what they need, most of our girls have bought into the false notion that their bodies are a means of gaining success. True success comes from hard work and good morals, not from the prettiness of our faces or softness of our skins. If we want to be successful, we should learn to open our minds, not our legs. Both our country and families depend on us and the kind of future we work to build.  Some of our parents spend over 30,000 Liberian Dollars annually to pay school fees, buy books, and provide lunch daily; at the end, instead of learning to be better people for our society, some choose the easy way. 

All those staff who continue requesting for our bodies and cash in exchange for grades are but enemies to our future. I am not trying to degrade anyone, but it is the reality. I know everyone is different and no one is perfect, but we can work to make a difference in our own unique ways. Why should we keep doing the wrong things especially after knowing how it is destroying our beautiful futures? I agree that the system is broken, but we are also contributing massively to the failure of both ourselves and our country. 

They do not offer Corruption 101 in any school, but why do the actions of our teachers make it seem like they graduated with masters in corruption and malpractices? Teachers need to stop exploiting students. Teachers need to stop sleeping with impressionable girls (THEY ARE NOT WOMEN). If they are hardpressed for sex, they should find a wife, not a student whose parents struggle to send them to school. If a student does wrong or behaves unseriously, guide them like a parent would guide their child. Our students are sent to school to learn more about how to secure a brighter future, and not to satisfy selfish teachers sexual desires or financial crises. 

Questions to consider? Is low salary an excuse for coercing students for sex or cash in exchange for grades? Does speaking out make me any less proud of my school or my religion? Should saying the right thing ever result in Islamophobia? Does it help my nation and its future? Could this get any better? Why should we know the negative impacts of something and contribute massively to it?

Authored by Fatu M. Kaba
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