Combatting Corruption in the Academic Sector?

A new website was launched in Uganda yesterday (www.notinmycountry.org). The aim of the site is to provide a forum for students, lecturers, and administrators ‘to out’ corrupt people working the the field of academia. While this is an entirely laudable motive (and is indeed long overdue), the methodology used by the promoters of this site is questionable and could be open to misuse.

First, they have assigned a default score value of 3 out of 5 for all individual academics and institutions under the categories: ‘Worst Performing Individual’ and ‘Best Performing Individual’, ‘Worst Performing Universities’ and ‘Best Performing Universities’. The rationale for doing this is clearly explained. However, individuals and universities are listed alphabetically on the site, and automatically individuals and universities with names beginning with the letter ‘A’ are listed under ‘Best’, and individuals and universities with names beginning with the letters ‘W’ and ‘Z’ are listed under ‘Worst’.

Thus, even though individuals and universities have not yet received public ratings, the names and pictures of worst performers are there for all to see. What kind of message does this give to members of the public who do not take the time to read through the notes on the site? If my picture was there and I was listed under ‘Worst Performing Individual”, I would surely have a case for ‘notinmycountry’ to answer.

Suggestion: can ‘notinmycountry’ find another way to present the site without assigning pre-determined values? The way it is currently presented leaves its promoters open to prosecution by individuals and institutions.

Professor Deirdre Carabine

 

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2 thoughts on “Combatting Corruption in the Academic Sector?

  1. Good point. But there is more in my opinion.

    It is clear that we need to improve the standards of tertiary education in Uganda but blaming the lecturers anonymously is not the way to go in my opinion. E.g, a lecturer who hands out a low marks because the work is not good and is not willing to be bribed to improve the mark can easily be nailed on this site (unless I overlook something). Do you really think that the students that actually bribe will report these
    lecturers? Is is not the case that lecturers that give the best marks are liked best?

    Before reporting a lecturer for not showing up in class one should know the reasons first. Maybe the administration failed to pay him or her (I have seen many of these cases). In that situation I think the
    lecturer should not be blamed (he does not have lecture when he is not properly paid), but the administration. Does the student in class know the difference?

    I can think of many more of such examples, but my main concern is that the underlying principles (blaiming and shaming) of the site does not acknowledge the complex reality in education in Uganda and fails to address false-blaming (or even promoting it?). I would have rather liked it the other way around – celebrate the lecturers/departments that do well. Start an award for best lecturer or best department in tertiary education in Uganda.

    Transform negative emotions into positive contributions.

  2. Dear Prof. Carabine,

    We greatly appreciate your comments, especially as they come from someone who is working hard to reform the tertiary education sector through the Virtual University of Uganda.

    We thought it would be appropriate to respond to this blog post given that it, and the associated comment by Victor, includes many of the most common critiques of our site.

    Please visit our blog to read the full reply:
    https://www.notinmycountry.org/blog/2012/05/our-response-virtual-university-uganda

    Best regards,
    NotInMyCountry.org

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