NAIROBI Egerton University in Kenya has suspended four senior lecturers for sexually harassing female students and demanding bribes in return for good grades.
The four lecturers were named last week by students who presented a list of seven dons alleged "sex pests" to the university administration. More than 2,500 students protested and accused lecturers of blackmailing them and demanding sexual favours and cash bribes.
The university council last week appointed a nine-man sub- committee to probe sex-for-marks scandals. The team, headed by Catholic prelate Alfred Rotich, will investigate allegations and report in two weeks' time.
However, 42 lecturers from the university claimed that sexual harassment and soliciting bribes were criminal offences that should not be left to the university council.
"Thorough investigations should be carried out by police and if found to be true, offenders should be taken to a court of law," said the lecturers' spokesman.
The group said charges of sexual harassment and bribery were a smoke-screen to cover up a scam whereby 38 students who had failed final examinations were eventually awarded honours degree certificates.
"When culprits in the administration realised some academics were going to blow the whistle on them, they incited students to demonstrate and level charges of extortion and immorality against the lecturers," said the spokesman.
But deputy vice-chancellor Alfred Mutema denied that students had been awarded degrees without having passed.
Academic registrar Nephat Kathuri accused the four lecturers of using their colleagues to divert attention from the sex scandal.
A senate report, however, has revealed that demands by lecturers for sexual favours were the cause of poor performance among female students at Egerton.
The report says female students were commonly pestered by male lecturers and this contributed to their poor performance.
"If the students do not oblige, they are downgraded," says the report, which was compiled in August by a senate committee of investigating courses with failure rate of 25 per cent and above.