By Maxwell Ofori
Barely forty-eight hours after the premiere of the much-publicised ‘Sex for Grades’ documentary by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which implicated two University of Ghana, Legon, lecturers, some Ghanaians believe the exposé was not worth the headline.
Social media went agog with comments condemning the undercover piece, which was to expose sexual harassment in tertiary institutions in West Africa.
Since the broadcast yesterday, comments indicate the investigative team could have done more to establish the facts of the documentary, as captured in the title, ‘Sex for Grades’.
Among those who hold this school of thought is investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni, who argued that the BBC Africa Eye exposé ought to be rejected, because it did not focus on how undeserved grades were offered to female students in exchange for sex.
The award-winning West Africa Journalist of the Year observed that the BBC should have focused on the subject of its investigation, which it failed to do.
He took to his Facebook to write: “Investigative journalism is like academic research. If you have randomly or purposively (as in Prof. Gyampo’s case) sampled a university lecturer who allegedly offers undeserved grades to his sexually harassed students, then you can only use one approach to test your hypothesis: let your engagement focus on the subject of the investigation. “Go to the Lecturer and tell him you are one of his over one thousand students and you have failed his subject, or you are not sure of passing his subject. If he asks for sex in order to give you the grade, you have your story,” he explained.
Mr Azure suffered criticism over his investigative work, ‘Militia in heart of the Nation,’ as people said the content failed to establish the headline, thus his submission on the BBC work was an ironic twist.
Rampant in the comments on the sex for grades exposé was the fact that Prof. Gyampo, as shown in the video, made advances to a student who wanted to be mentored, contrary to lecturers demanding sex for grades.
Many commentators believe that at the end of the documentary, the BBC had only deceived the public on the subject.
An email sent to Prof Ransford Gyampo on September 24, 2019 by the BBC on the subject, asked the lecturer to respond to evidence that he attempted to exploit an academic relationship with a woman.
The letter said Prof Gyampo engaged in inappropriate amorous behaviour with the woman he believed was an undergraduate at the university, seeking academic and career advice from him.
It added that during conversations with her, Prof Gyampo made intimidating, unwelcome, sexually-oriented comments alluding to her sexual experience.
The letter noted that other contributors to the documentary said Prof Gyampo was a lecturer of power and influence, and have been at the centre of sexual harassment allegations on social and local media in the past.
Cementing their findings on Prof Gyampo, BBC said contributors alleged he sexually harassed female students on campus between 2015 and 2019, among others.
Ostensibly, the bone of contention amongst Ghanaians is that nowhere in the video was it portrayed that the lady gave her body for academic favours.
Adding to the barrage of rejections of the investigative piece, which caught international attention, the Chairperson of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee of the university, Dr. Margaret Amoakohene stated that the Committee finds no case of sex for grades in the documentary.
She was reported to have told Starr FM, an Accra-based radio station; “Per the analysis of the video, there’s no direct correlation between [the] lecturer’s conduct and the allegations made by the video. The evidence does not point to sex for grade. When we talk of sex for grade, we didn’t see much involvement of the lecturers of the University of Ghana.
“Our VC wrote to the BBC for their evidence, they declined and asked that we write to their legal department and we will do that today.
“Whether the BBC agrees or not, what we saw in the video constitutes gross misconduct, and so the two of them are subjects of investigations, and then we can establish their level of culpability,” she added.