Malawi’s Exploits University is being condemned for revoking the degree of a graduate who went viral on social media after she posted a video of her burning what appeared to be her certificate.
According to Nyasa Times, the graduate, identified as Bridget Thapwile Soko, posted a TikTok video that showed her setting ablaze her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (BBA) to register her anger over being unemployed after graduating about four years ago.
In the video, Soko reportedly said she opted to hold on to her marriage certificate and rather burn her certificate because she had neither secured a job nor even an interview from any institution.
But her alma mater took issue with her action and sent her a letter to notify her about her degree revocation. In the October 21-dated letter, the private university reportedly claimed that Soko burnt her degree “to disgrace and tarnish the image of the university”.
“Consequently, you are no longer a graduate of Exploits University and as such your degree certificate is invalidated with immediate effect,” the university’s president, Desmond Bikoko, told Soko in the letter. Bikoko also said the decision by the university will “be made public through the media.”
But some Malawians on Facebook condemned Bikoko’s action by claiming there was no basis for the revocation of Soko’s degree.
“For me, the reaction of the University actually brings the institution into disrepute!” Kondwani Chirembo wrote. “This was an opportunity for the university to show the country (and the world) that [the degree] is not as useless as the girl made it feel. Revoking an awarded degree is a serious matter that cannot be driven by emotions. This has been a big fail by the university if that letter is genuine.”
Another user, Francis Chiumia, also claimed that the degree conferred on Soko was not an honorary one, adding that what she did “is not an academic misconduct.”
“It will just take one crazy lawyer to finish the university” with a lawsuit,” Facebook user Kruger Bantuworld reportedly said, with Schulbz van Koleka also writing that Soko “earned that degree and she can sue the University for this gross misconduct.”
Others also questioned if the paper Soko was burning in the video was indeed her degree. “If indeed it’s true the revocation is genuine, then the university is more of a person as opposed to a well-regulated institution of higher education. The administrators themselves need to be censored on their credentials,” Madalitso Makwandu wrote.
Others also said that in the video, Soko did not accuse her alma mater of being the cause of her unemployment, Nyasa Times reported. While burning her degree, Soko was reportedly heard singing, “manyazi agwire inu osandilemba ntchito (shame to those that are failing to employ me.”)
Henry Chingaipe, who is a senior lecturer at the University of Malawi (UNIMA), also said that university officials “can only revoke in this way an Honorary degree — not an earned degree.”
“An earned degree can only be revoked if evidence comes up much later that the bearer did not satisfy the requirements for the award,” Chingaipe added. “This is the case because a university degree only certifies that the candidate completed a study program at the university and met competence requirements for the award of the degree.”
A university in Malawi has revoked a woman's degree, after she burned her certificate on TikTok for not being able to get a job with the certificate. pic.twitter.com/7klDEE2RMG
— Africa Facts Zone (@AfricaFactsZone) October 25, 2022