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Education with a Touch of Molestation

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Having spent 5 years of my secondary education in a girl’s only boarding school in Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State, I feel that gives me a little credential to address this issue (recent QC issue). In a girls only school where you have both male and female teachers, the common issue I noticed then was numerous stories of some male teachers either asking students out, or the “come into my office, I need to see you”, or making gestures such “as you look good” *in an uncomfortable manner possibly followed by a wink* or ‘oni idi nla’- which means big butt (yes, I have heard a male teacher say this!) Mind you, they say all these things in a funny way, but little do you realize that this rather silly gesture begins the onset of the molestation and sexual abuse often noted in secondary schools.  I can recollect times I saw some male teachers in a corner of the school especially during break or after school hours doing unnecessary ‘counselling’, or getting intimate with female students. Please, do not deny these things, they really do happen. There were also times where these male teachers had their private offices and that was worse. I remember a friend who had to go clean up a certain teachers office in the morning, it was her daily school routine commonly referred to as ‘portion’ and she alerted us to the sight of used condoms. Well, I will be too quick to judge and say he used it on a female student(s). It also could be looked at differently that he brought someone in from the outside. The truth is, he was known to have a history of sleeping with his students. You also possibly can relate to that one male teacher students call ‘ashewo’. Yes, you do; or maybe not! In this QC situation, after reading numerous blogs and following the post of others who had an encounter with this Mr Seni, they reported seeing this coming and a particular comment that struck me was of someone who said it is an issue that has been going on for a while which the school administration never took time to address. Now, let me break it down real good. The student in question reported to her mum about the situation. First, I applaud this girl and her confidence so much. I do not know her, but one has to be very courageous to speak on sensitive issues like this. Not forgetting Nigeria being a country where victim shaming is the order of the day. Ehn what was she looking for in the man’s office? Why did she go to meet him? Could she not run away as soon as he approached her? This and many more will be half the statement some misinformed persons might make. There really is no excuse to molest or sexually abuse someone. Victim blaming makes it worse and in turn can be very traumatic for the victim. Secondly, whether the man taught junior or senior school is not the matter. In my secondary school then, I knew some senior school teachers even while I was still in junior school. This was not because they shared a major staff room, but because some of them served as guardians to other students or I took coaching classes with them. He might not have taught her anything, but that does not mean he could not have had an access to her or know about her. The fact that some old girls of the school also commented on knowing this history of Mr Seni, and also the principal of the school attested that numerous complaints have also been made by previous administrators. However, all of it was ruled off as invalid and a way to bring the ‘ever-loving’ and multiple teaching award winning Mr Seni down speaks volumes to me. This means there is a history! What few people do not understand is the way this issue presents itself. Yes, he might be the best biology teacher ever, but that does not rule out his tendency of being a molester or pedophile. To say some people came out to vouch for him saddens me especially. Because he was the ‘fairest of all’ to you does not mean he was not the cause of frustration to another. Using his externally displayed characteristic as a yardstick to defend him is telling the victim in this case that her experience with Mr Seni is made up or did not/cannot possibly have happened. Having said this, I am grateful for how much social media has grown and the fact that it gives people the voice to now speak up and get help. A tighter security measure should be in place. A proper background check should also be used for both old and new hires that work in any school environment. And in cases where a male teacher for any reason has to visit the dorms, he must be there with the presence of other females and he definitely should not be visiting at night either. Also, adopting an open office policy will go a long way (no more ‘koro’ which means closed/secluded office). Whatever happens, I hope justice is served and a true light is shed on this story. P.S., I salute all QCOG and current students who have refused to be blinded by maintaining the integrity of the school and coming out to share this side of Mr Seni others do not see.  I have also been a victim of a male teacher who was fond of luring girls into his office. His office was right by my class and he would at times make uncomfortable comments such as, “Adams, ode wah rimi now”, meaning Adams, come and see me now, or him trying to inappropriately hold my hand in the corridor. I found my way out of that situation, but this is not the case for many others. Another teacher who was always picking on me for doing nothing and reporting to my mum things I never truly did. I am not saying this to say I was 100% trouble free during my secondary school days, but for the most part I never had any issues with my teachers. Later on, I found out that was his technique of luring students and starting relationships with them. He reports them to their parents for behaviors that are possibly not shown, only for parents to finally hand him over as a guardian for their kids without knowing his malicious intent.  On this note I say: STAND UP, SPEAK OUT AND LET THE GIRL CHILD BE GREAT!

-Bola Adams (adams.bolanle@gmail.com)

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