By Soumaila T. Diarra, 28 May 2014
Bamako — A government report has revealed widespread fraud and bribery among high-level professors at universities in Mali and degrees awarded in exchange for cash.
The general auditor’s report issued on May 14 alleges financial mismanagement involving billions in public money, including management irregularities at the University of Bamako between 2010 and 2012 that it said cost the public treasury 2.4 billion CFA ($3.66 million) of which nearly one quarter of the losses were due to fraud.
The findings have left students concerned that corruption will undermine the value of their degrees and make it harder for them to get jobs in a competitive global marketplace.
„It puts at risk our future careers,“ said Amadou Maiga, 23, a student activist at the Bamako University of Social Science and Management. He said he feels ashamed of his education compared with other universities in West Africa.
„In this university if you have money, 100 000 or 200 000 CFA ($200-$300), you won’t fail the exams. Everyone knows that,“ he said while sitting under a tree with his friends near parking lot for motorbikes.
„I know some students who used to be informed about the exam results before they were officially published. It’s clear that those who informed them are professors who received money,“ he said.
According to Maiga, 2,000 of the 40,000 students enrolled in the schools of law and political science have been for allegedly bribing university officials.
Fraud is so widespread and well known at universities in Mali that some graduates are treated with suspicion when they enter the workplace, students said.
„They were delivering degree certificates on which the signatures were scanned, and some students had problems with that. A friend of mine failed to get into a training programme because of one of those scanned degrees, as the boss thought it was a false document,“ said Moussa Sangare, another student at the Bamako University of Social Science and Management in talking about practices at his school.