Using Data Analytics to cut through the noise. #SexForGrades
When conversations get heated with the emotional dimensions, it can become difficult to cut through to the issue at stake. The recent #SexForGrades expose by BBC Africa, and Kiki Mordi was not immune to this. Beyond the revelations about #SexForGrades and the actions that institutions involved have taken since then, a post-mortem is still necessary to help us develop an intelligent picture of the discussion, the emotions involved, and factors behind this.
The Future of Work Africa used data and analytics to conduct a sentiment analysis of #SexForGrades. The following is what we found.
We collected data using keyword #SexForGrades from Twitter. The total came to 438, 860. After data cleaning processes to remove unrelated tweets like ads; promotional tweets and unrelated discussions, we arrived at a total of 270,937 relevant tweets, from a total of 67,706 handles. These tweets went out between October 7 and 10, 2019. The activity was at its peak on the 7th, with over 240,000 tweets coming out that day. From then, it declined till it fizzled out. This decline was because the documentary was published on the 7 of October 2019 There was also sufficient publicity before it was released, so a large number of netizens expected it. We found that most of the conversations revolved around lecturers, BBC Africa, sex, and Dr. Boniface Gbeneghu, one of the lecturers exposed by the documentary.
In tweets that mentioned Kiki Mordi, the investigative journalist behind this reveal, the most common words were ‘sexual harassment’ and ‘predator.’ To this end, we can say that the documentary elicited the expected reactions, as that was what it sought to shed light. Another essential word associated with Kiki Mordi mentions was ‘dropout.’ She dropped out of school due to sexual harassment from lecturers. This narrative must have given the documentary a stronger, personal appeal.
The Nigerian university at the centre of the storm was the University of Lagos, and it showed in the online conversations – it was mentioned 6,534 times in the period analysed. The next school didn’t even get up to a quarter of this ‘attention.’ It was tweeted about 330 times in total. What school was that? You’ll have to read the full report to find out.
SexForGrades also proved one often repeated truth – the internet never forgets. ASUU, the umbrella body for Nigerian university lecturers, was ‘dragged’ into the conversation, even though the documentary did not mention it.
ASUU mentions were in connection to their opposition to the Sexual Anti-Harassment Bill proposed by the previous National Assembly. Most tweets condemned the association for its position. Fortunately, the current National Assembly has pledged to revive the bill, and the executive has given its support to this move. Either way, the negative association of ASUU with sexual harassment is a tool that can be used against it, as the #SexForGrades trend revealed.
The #SexForGrades conversation also involved influential members of the public, mostly current and former public officers, with the capacity to effect change. Oby Ezekwesili’s tweets were in connection with the measures she implemented to deal with sexual harassment in universities. She was a Minister of Education under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
Overall, the #SexForGrades trend generated varied emotional responses ranging from disgust, fear, positivity, anger, and surprise, to name a few. Most of these sentiments were equally shared. Most tweets also reflected mixed emotional responses. Irrespective, the most common emotional response was positivism directed towards the Foursquare Gospel Church for their swift response, BBC Africa for producing the documentary, and Kiki Mordi for bringing this ugly happening to national light. Generally, the audience is more receptive to exposes like this.
For the full array of emotions involved, you can follow this link to download the comprehensive report.