Bridget Thapwile Soko, a young Malawian woman, has had her degree from Exploits University revoked after she posted a TikTok video where she burnt her degree certificate.
In the video, Soko sings songs whose lyrics make mockery of the inability to get long-promised jobs after completing one’s degree. She playfully expressed her frustration at the apparent lack of value of the degree and capped it off by saying she was sticking to her marriage certificate.
“You reach a point of getting tired. Whenever I see this degree, it gives me fake promises that I will get a job,” she ruefully expressed in Chichewa.
The video went viral on the social media platform, garnering support and scorn alike. Those who did the latter deemed the act irresponsible and pointless.
Exploits University – a Malawian top 20 university – responded by stripping Soko of her degree. They expressed their disappointment with the video in a letter addressed to her, signed by University President Dr Bikoko dated 21st October, 2022.
“We have learnt with disappointment that you recorded a video clip burning a degree that we awarded to you upon completion of your studies with Exploits University and posted on social media. It is our interpretation that you did this to disgrace and tarnish the image of the university.
“The university is therefore revoking the degree of business administration awarded to you. Our decision will also be made public through the media. Consequently, you are no longer a graduate of Exploits University and as such, your degree certificate is invalidated with immediate effect.”
The university has since been under fire as Malawians have taken to social media to lambast their decision to revoke Ms. Soko’s degree.
Facebook user Kondwanie Chirembo said, “For me, the reaction of the university actually brings the institution into disrepute! This was an opportunity for the university to show the country (and the world) that it’s not as useless as it claims 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.”
In the same vein, other Facebook users said the wiser step for the university to take would have been to employ her and prove that her degree was not useless.
“If I were a top administrator at the University, I would have facilitated the employment of the destitute and frustrated female youth”, wrote Elia Mwalwanda.
Some have urged Soko to sue the university as she earned the degree, and it is hers to do with as she pleases. There were no grounds for the revocation as this was not an honorary degree which could be terminated in the event of improper conduct. This was a degree that she invested her financial resources and 4 years of her time into.
Consequently, some opine that it is only right that the university refund all her tuition fees.
Ms. Soko is not the only one to suffer unemployment in the East African country. Malawi’s unemployment rate reached a peak of 7.02% in 2021, according to Statista. For context, countries like the UK and US have unemployment rates below 5%, while Qatar has an unemployment rate of 0.3%, the lowest in the world.
Malawians have called on the government to intervene and find ways to tackle rising unemployment in the country.
Sources: Nyasa Times, IOL