Skip to content

My Story: Fighting the Perversion of Academia

2014 January 9
by sfcg

By Mohammed Foboi

MOHAMMEDMy most important teacher is an outlier in the traditional academic sense: my illiterate mother.

“No condition is permanent. You must keep focused and get a good education,” she usually says to me. I listen.

My mother knows quite a bit about reversals of fortune. I grew up in a very large family. My father married seven wives, with my mother being the last. I have 23 siblings, not counting the ones who passed away.

Before I was born, I am told that my father was relatively well off, which explains his ability to take on so many wives. However, my father didn’t store his money in a bank; he used his mattress.

He lost everything during the Liberian civil war.

My mother believes that had my father received a decent education, he would have been smarter with his money. So she dedicated her life to ensuring that my siblings and I achieve higher education.

I know that education is the surest way out of poverty. I choose to pursue academic excellence to the fullest, because education transforms not only individuals, but also nations.

I apply my mother’s advice not only in my own life but as an inspiration to positively impact my country’s educational system.

Academic malpractices – sex for grades, bribes, etc. – pervade Liberian schools, and have the potential to stifle long-term development in my country.

Teachers collect tens of thousands of dollars from students in exchange for grades. Some teachers even demanding sex from students in exchange for better grades. This appalling phenomenon is so entrenched in Liberian schools that it is now accepted as a way of life.

Liberia suffered massive brain drain during the civil war, when hundreds of thousands of Liberians, including teachers and school administrators, fled the country for safety. Today, most of the teachers are people who cannot get jobs in other sectors. As a result of malpractices, the education sector produces graduates who lack the capacity to positively contribute to society. This, in turn, creates a vicious cycle of corruption, bad governance, and lawlessness at the national scale.

Violence is another major factor. The country’s population is 3.5 million people and the young people make up 68% of this number. 74% of those who fought the 14-year civil war are young people, and today their only way out is still violence.

I am determined to eliminate violence and violent malpractices in Liberia.

In March of 2008, I founded a student organization called Students Against Destructive Actions and Decisions (SADAD), which aims to eliminate academic malpractices and violence from Liberian society.

First, I used my personal resources to run the organization, including mobilizing volunteers and conducting community and media outreach. Upon my graduation in 2010, SADAD became a registered NGO with networking structures as peace clubs in ten schools in Montserrado County.

During the May 2012 national exams, SADAD assigned 73 monitoring agents at various testing centers to supervise the exams. Due to our intervention and the Exam Council’s efforts, we saw an unprecedented drop in fraud cases – below 1985 levels. It was a huge victory for us. The organization again had 67 members in the field during the May-June 2013 WAEC Exams and the results was again one of Liberia’s best results ever.


Courtsey of Student Against Destructive Action and Decisions (SADAD)

SADAD is a member of the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY), based in The Hague, and now has more than 300 young people dedicated to ending violence, many of whom are far higher than me in education and age.

Today, I am a second year student at the University of Liberia, studying Mass Communication and Sociology. I am the youngest member of the Liberia Association of Writers (LAW).

I live away from my parents in a room without even a bathroom or toilet, I go to sleep hungry some days and have to travel one and a half hours to school, spend another six hours in classes and then another hour and a half to come home. But I am focused on my vision and goal of helping to make a peaceful and an inclusive environment for all, which I can only accomplish with a good education.

I am passionate about this quest to end violence especially among youth.

When I reflect on my personal trajectory and the factors that have nudged me along, my mother has been the single most influential figure in my life. She did not have the opportunity to get a formal education but she taught me everything I need to look into the future.

If you’re inspired by Mohammed’s story and want to get involved, Join the Search.  Join the Search is a global movement to end violent conflict. Just go to to learn more and sign the pledge.


Mohammed Foboi is a university student at the University of Liberia and the founder of Students Against Destructive Actions and Decisions, which is apart of the United Network of Young Peacebuilders and a participating organization in Join the Search, the movement to end violent conflict. 

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS