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Student prostitution: Cancer in colleges, schools

25 May 2018 at 06:51hrs | Views
Government and parents invest heavily in education. Often times education receives the lion's share of government's annual budget. It is not surprising. Education manufactures the nation's human capital and is the cardinal driver of national development. It is education that determines life's natural development, social and economic efficiency.

Yet Zimbabwean schools and colleges, instead of becoming role models of moral discipline and growth, they are every day literally growing into brothels. Instead of the students being a good behavioural example to those coming up, they are daily sinking into undressed debauchery and brave sinning. If an education system becomes a meeting point of academic development and celebration of student prostitution there is something fundamentally wrong with that education. Those whose integrity makes them survive the vortex of college or university student prostitution find this narrative unpalatable, rightly so, but if the truth be told, the issue of moral decay in institutions of higher learning which visibly begin in high schools, needs to be addressed head-on.

Recently one reputable newspaper in Zimbabwe ran a story about a ban on 'undressed' university girls using its library facility. I asked myself, 'If they are not wanted in the library, where are they wanted at all?'

His Excellency Comrade Emmerson Munangagwa recently did not mince his words about his worry and concern about the standards of moral behaviour at institutions of higher learning, no matter who is the willing hunter or willing hunted. Nothing can be a stronger sign of responsibility on the part of a national leader. Speaking to women from all walks of life at an interface organised by the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe in Harare recently, he recommended serious but careful research or investigation of girl-student abuse and harassment in order to understand it better so as to take informed measures to address the behavioural pandemic.

"We will suggest that perhaps we should include in the charter of these universities regulations regulating the prohibition of sexual harassment, "said President ED.

"It should also be necessary for the Ministry of Justice to have a conversation with girls in higher institutions so that we get to understand how it is perpetuated in order for us to adequately address it," he said.

The nation is also aware that the first lady, Mrs Auxillia Munangagwa, is on record pledging her active involvement in alleviating challenges facing female students in institutions of higher learning and even on internship.

We are also aware that the Minister of Women and Youth Affairs Sithembiso Nyoni has recently expressed concern about incidences of HIV and STI among young women in Zimbabwe particularly in tertiary institutions.

"As the minister responsible for women and girls empowerment in all sectors, my ministry is seized with implementing programmes to raise awareness and help curb infections in young women," said Minister Sithembiso Nyoni.

That is the way to go. When people in high offices, including the president and the first lady begin to focus on real social issues or challenges like behavioural transformation and socio-economic vulnerability, the country is assured of comprehensive leadership.

Morris Mtisi, this your Manica Post education materials journalist and guest columnist, also Diamond FM Radio teacher and presenter, wrote and published a book that handles the theme of student prostitution. The book, Studying For The Grave, written in the form of a creative story was launched in November 2016. It carefully and squarely exposes the president of Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa's worries and concerns with a uniquely artistic eye for detail. Mtisi believes that while other reasons like vulnerability of the female students and a weak national economy cannot be overlooked or ignored, sheer student prostitution is a real pandemic. Read the following reviews by two Zimbabwean distinguished educationists and scholars:

The novel Studying For The Grave is a chilling portrayal of the vulnerability of the girl child to sexual abuse and the grave consequences that result from loose moral behaviour that is rampant in institutions of higher learning. Mr Mtisi spares no one in his scathing criticism. The gross social malaise that bedevils NU is spawned not only by the deplorable social conditions that prevail but also through endemic poverty, crisis of governance, national, financial and political crises as well as serious flaws of personality across all sections of society, rich and poor.

The writer profiles the three undergraduate girls' background, circumstance and destiny with such an eye for detail that the characters are real life imaginative recreations of lost souls, horrible products of a corrupt, permissive and promiscuous society that has gone to the dogs. Caroline, the nymphomaniac, is a hardened prostitute-the typical sex worker. Batsy is a doomed colleague whose gruesome fate is sudden and brutal. Wendy is the principled one who is inexorably drawn into the vortex of the goings on and survives to recoup some integrity through a growing awareness of pride in her identity.

The story unfolds through Mtisi's powerful linguistic abilities and apt choice of word.

The sexual encounters are detailed with abandon, a source of gleeful joy to adolescent minds. But the moral revulsion and distance come through in the running comments, supported by Biblical references, universal pithy statements and aphorisms. Furthermore, the story acquires a sense of verisimilitude through reference to dated specifics such as the 2008 and 2009 hyper-inflationary national debacle.

The theme of HIV and AIDS and its devastating impact on university undergraduates is fully explored. Through Literature and Language, Studying For The Grave cross-cuts or traverses into other curriculum disciplines including Guidance and Counselling, History, Culture and Heritage Studies, Ubunthu/Hunhu and related subjects. The need for behaviour change at school and beyond has never been so crucial. I find this novel touching.

Mr Moses Mukoyi is the headmaster of St Faith's High School in Rusape- Manicaland-Zimbabwe

Professor Charles-PFukwa writes:

This is an honest and brutal expose of prostitution in tertiary institutions. The book exposes how morally weak and degenerate today's generation is. Gone are old traditional values, in comes materialism and easy, short-lived comforts that destroy character-building that should be an essential part of the learning process of a university student. Mtisi forces society to critically examine a social malady that most Zimbabweans have blatantly ignored, turned a deaf ear to and hoped would somehow disappear into thin air: the issue of student prostitution.

It is an open secret that our children are engaging in morally unacceptable activities while studying at universities and that HIV and AIDS are rife in these institutions.

After reading the book one is left with an uneasy feeling of having somehow aided to the problem directly or indirectly. We are responsible as parents, as sugar daddies and sugar mummies and all other things that we do to accelerate that fateful journey to the grave. The issue of moral decadence needs to be addressed head-on from grassroots level to national level otherwise out children are indeed 'Studying For The Grave,' as the title befittingly suggests.

Written in simple everyday language, the novel should be a must-read for Zimbabwean high school youths who need to make moral-correct decisions before they come face to face with the harsh realities that lie in wait for the Zimbabwe university student.

 Professor Charles-PFukwa is the executive dean at Bindura University of Science Education, also editor-in-chief of The Patriot.

Source - manicapost
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