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We Don’t Condone Examination Malpractices At Taraba Poly- Rector, Dr Ayuba Abarshi



 Dr  Ayuba Ibrahim Abarshi is the Rector Taraba State Polytechnic, Suntia in this interview with Taraba Truth and Fact Reporter in Jalingo, Dr Abarshi said the Polytechnic under his management does not condone examination malpractice in any form, saying  the administration of Governor Darius  Ishaku is working round the clock to ensure more courses are accredited for the institution.

Sir, how is the school under your leadership tackling cases of examination malpractice and other misconduct among students and staff?

  I want to first of all appreciate the person of the Executive Governor of Taraba State, Arch Darius Ishaku, for giving me the privilege and opportunity to serve in this capacity. When I came in, we have an existing handbook and this handbook covers all the issues and administrative matters as far as students are concerned. One of the salient issues is the handbook is that of exam malpractice and that is something that I stood against even when I was just an ordinary lecturer, whenever I was selected among invigilators and the students sees me in the class during either tests or examinations, they know already that their show is spoilt. As a person, I don't tolerate it when I was a lecturer, Head of Department and Dean before becoming the Rector of the Institution, so it is natural that I don't tolerate it.  

Now that I am the Rector, I have made sure every necessary machinery is put in place to checkmate exam malpractices. At this juncture, I think we need to establish that examination malpractice has different dimension and I have ensure things have to be done appropriately in the venues of the exams and we make sure that all other things are taken care of so as to ensure that exam malpractice if not eliminated can be reduced to the barest minimum. So, we have committees that are normally set up and the committees present reports to the academic board and the academic board now check those reports and give appropriate decisions to ensure students are not victimized and objectivity is upheld in the institution. Once a student is found to be guilty, whatever the handbook says, that is the punishment that will be meted out to such student. The student handbook explicitly states the punishment for malpractices which includes expulsion, suspension for a semester or two as the case may be and the punishment differs depending on the gravity of the offences committed. All this is to show that the administration has zero tolerance for examination malpractices and any other misconduct generally and we made sure machineries are put in place to checkmate all those inappropriate actions.

Sexual harassment is common in public institutions and Taraba Poly is not an exemption, but what is your management doing to tackle this in the school?

The issue of sexual harassment as you've said, I agree with you, is somewhat an international phenomenon and the Taraba State Polytechnic is not an exemption. Therefore, machineries have been put in place and the Student Affairs Officer's office is there and of course, they directly deal with the students. Also, sensitization is ongoing and we organize school orientations to tell them their rights and privileges and if there is anything impending such, it should be promptly reported and once they report such rights infringement, investigations are carried out and if any lecturer or student if found guilty, they will be punished according to whatever the students handbook stipulated. Not only students, that of the staff is also there and we make sure that students are not just maltreated by staff just because they have the privilege of teaching them or marking their scripts and they now use such opportunities for converting them to maybe prostitutes or whatever. So, we make sure machineries are put in place and any students that reports, and you know in the issue of sexual harassment, if there's no reporting, then we will not be able to know, but once an issue comes up and it is reported, the investigations are carried out and if the staff is found guilty, then the necessary punishment will be meted out to the erring staff or lecturer.

And I remember we have supervisory ministry, so normally we channel all these issues through them any issues concerning the institution's staff cannot be locally concluded or handled independently, so we will have to write the ministry and get their permission before the final decision or action is taken. So, ours here is just to ensure committees are formed to look into such allegations, investigations carried out with necessary recommendations from then before we it is tabled before the academic board and the board will meet, look at the reports and recommendations by the investigative panel and then we will forward it to the school council, but now that there is no council, we forward the reports and recommendations to the Ministry of Tertiary Education where further action would be taken. Sexual harassment is something that cannot be condone and we have never condoned it and we will never condone it.

Recently we reported a case of a lecturer in the institution who was indicted for aiding examination malpractice but the school management didn't act on the report of a committee recommending his sack, what exactly happened?

These issues have been there and as you are aware, I came in as the Rector in 2019, although I was here in 2017 when the case came up and the committee was set up by the immediate administration and findings and recommendations were made, but from my knowledge of it, I think the case ended there. And the academic board never concluded on it and we don't even know what happened why it remained so. Even though the punishment were spelled out on demoting the staff by one level if found guilty and the students involved were taken care of by the laws as spelt out in the handbook and it is unfortunate that some people look at it from different angle and I know that the school had done what it is supposed to be done by setting up a committee to investigate the case and came up with its recommendations and actions were taken to a particular level, but I don't know what later transpired but it is not as if the school condoned the action or was protecting the staff in question.

Sir some projects were awarded several months ago but yet to be implemented,  what exactly is the true position delaying some projects implementation?

 Well, I don't know how of any project delaying, but as you can see on your way to my office, several developmental projects are ongoing and I don't know the particular project you are referring to. As far as TETFund projects are concerned, they are external interventions and you know we have guidelines and we follow the guidelines to the latter to ensure that things are done appropriately. So, except you come out clearer. Some completed projects and ongoing projects that you see now did not even start during my tenure and when I came on board, I have to ensure the projects are enhanced and we supervise it to go in the right direction and if you may know, no TETFund projects can be delayed, because it is a meticulous organization which sends consultants, supervisors and anybody saying a TETFund projects was not executed or the funds were syphoned is only trying to create unrest and spreading unsubstantiated claims around because TETFund comes at different stages for supervision and every payment is done with evidence of ensuring that something is on ground. And if somebody is saying money was approved for the institution and such money was diverted is just trying to rubbish the image of the school, as TETFund won't approve money and sit down in Abuja without monitoring the progress of such funds because it is tax payers money and they ensure the money is appropriately used for the projects it is meant for. Like you can see, projects are ongoing and more are still coming after the lockdown is lifted and we will make sure we follow up and the project are done in appropriate manners.

There have been complains that some courses are not accredited for the Polytechnic, what are you doing to address this and bring the school to global standard?

We have been doing a lot and the issue had been a major thrust of my administration. You know that a school where few courses are just accredited are at a disadvantage point and I can tell you five more courses had been accredited and the most joyful one is that the Governor had graciously asked the planning commission to include accreditation of all the institution's courses in the 2020 budget and the issue of accreditation will soon be a thing of the past because the governor through his rescue mission has been able to entertain and that had been done since last year and the approval had been given from him on the issue of courses accreditation and it was captured in the budget. So I don't see the issue of accreditation as a big deal anymore as it will be achieved anytime soon. So, what is left now is just the implementation and as I see it now, it will soon be done as work had been ongoing on it since last year.

I am convinced that the administration of Governor Ishaku is one that place importance on education that shows in the percentage we now record in our external exams and compare it to what we used to record during his predecessors. I know the administration is working tenaciously to improve the education sector as a whole and ensure our courses are accredited. And it is pertinent to use this opportunity to explain that accreditation is not a one-way traffic that can just be done by a singular entity. We have the regulatory body; the government and the school are there. So, I am giving this balance picture for the people to understand what course accreditation entails so they just don't see it from one perspective because the government as our proprietor is doing its work, so also is the regulatory bodies and we are in touch with them.

All the courses have been listed for accreditation and for your information, we just introduced more courses and that is why we have more students now and I know within a short period, everything will be finalized.

What have you done on the issue of institution's land encroachment?

That has been there before my coming into office and it is unfortunate that until now it is still there. We have to put up some structures to checkmate the land encroachment. So, on the issue of encroachment, we have contact with the community leaders and we are dialoging with them and they are showing understanding already though compensation may still be paid by the time we are able to arrive at a reasonable conclusion. We have been discussing with the community leaders about it and I know that the encroachment will not go beyond this and it will be reverse by time with understanding, constant dialoguing and not by force because they said they have a case with some documents they are presenting and we have to also listen to them and, in fact, summarily the Commissioner is already aware and has also taken it up. And at our own level, we are dialoguing with the community leaders and it is likely we may even have to meet; the school, community and ministry to work possible solution out of the present quagmire we found ourselves.

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