Investigators Release Plagiarism File against USL Vice Chancellor

Investigators have released a dossier containing cases of alleged plagiarism contained in a dissertation submitted to the University of South Africa in 2004 by Ekundayo J. D. Thompson, the current acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone.

The dossier’s release follows media reports last week that the University of South Africa (UNISA) has commenced an internal investigation into a report which listed cases of plagiarism found in a dissertation submitted to its College of Education by one of its former students, Ekundayo Jonathan David Thompson from Sierra Leone.

The University of South Africa, through a long-distance learning program, awarded Ekundayo Thompson a Doctorate degree in Education in 2004, and President Ernest Bai Koroma appointed him Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone in 2013.

He had submitted a dissertation titled, “An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Non-Formal Schools and Centers in the Urban Areas of Kenya” as part of the requirements for the award of the long-distance doctorate degree in education from the University of South Africa. But a recent report by a team of international investigators in the United States of America has uncovered numerous cases of evidence suggesting that the said dissertation is the result of serious cases of plagiarism.

The report clearly stated that the dissertation submitted by Ekundayo Thompson to the University of South Africa for his doctorate degree has been found to contain passages and sentences that constitute overwhelming cases of plagiarism.

The plagiarism allegations listed in the report have been sent to the University of South Africa by a team of international journalists and researchers seeking clarification on the charges.

The report is attached below.

https://africanistpress.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/ejd-thompson-evidence-numbered-file.pdf
EJD Thompson Plagiarism Numbered Evidence

 

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UNISA opens plagiarism investigation against USL Vice Chancellor

The University of South Africa (UNISA) has commenced an internal investigation into a report which listed cases of plagiarism found in a dissertation submitted to its College of Education by one of its former students, Ekundayo Jonathan David Thompson from Sierra Leone.

The University of South Africa, through a long-distance learning program, awarded Ekundayo Thompson a Doctorate degree in Education in 2004, and President Ernest Bai Koroma appointed him Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone in 2013.

He had submitted a dissertation titled, “An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Non-Formal Schools and Centers in the Urban Areas of Kenya” as part of the requirements for the award of the long-distance doctorate degree in education from the University of South Africa. But a recent report by a team of international investigators in the United States of America has uncovered numerous cases of evidence suggesting that the said dissertation is the result of serious cases of plagiarism.

The report clearly stated that the dissertation submitted by Ekundayo Thompson to the University of South Africa for his doctorate degree has been found to contain passages and sentences that constitute overwhelming cases of plagiarism.

The plagiarism allegations listed in the report have been sent to the University of South Africa by a team of international journalists and researchers seeking clarification on the charges.

“Over the last couple of months, we have been looking at various aspects of E.J.D. Thompson’s “scholarship” and educational background, including a verification of the “Dissertation” he submitted to UNISA in fulfillment of the requirement for the award of his D.Ed. in 2004. Our investigation, has revealed evidence of several cases of plagiarism in the “Dissertation” submitted to UNISA by Thompson,” the investigators said in a recent correspondence to UNISA.

They pointed out that Thompson’s dissertation contains between 32% and 37% evidence of plagiarism.

“We focused only on overwhelming cases that can be easily found in conventionally published literature. Limiting our scope on this type of evidential material found in Chapters 1 and 2, we are able to safely say that the whole “Dissertation” in question contains between 32% and 37% passages and sentences that were found to be not unique to the author, and are therefore treated as cases of obvious plagiarism,” they stated in the report.

UNISA records indicated that Professor Eleanor Lemmer, a research professor in the College of Education, supervised Thompson’s dissertation in 2004. Investigators said they had earlier presented the plagiarism evidence to Professor Lemmer, the supervisor, but she offered no comments on the evidence.

In a correspondence dated May 16, 2016 Professor Lemmer only suggested that the matter be referred to the Research Directorate of the University of South Africa.

“I am in the process of retiring from the University of South Africa and I will have to refer your complaint to the Research Directorate of UNISA,” she wrote.

Earlier information from Professor Lemmer, however, revealed that Ekundayo Thompson scored only a pass in his dissertation evaluation in 2004.

Following months of communication and exchange of correspondences between investigators and UNISA authorities, the matter has now been sent to the University’s Vice Principal of Research and Innovation, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.

In a correspondence dated June 15, 2016 Professor Phakeng has ordered an investigation into the findings of the report.

“I request that you investigate these allegations. I am copying the Dean of the College of Education (Prof McKay) for information since the allegations are about a graduate for CEDU and the Vice Principal for Teaching and Learning so that at least another member of Management is aware of this,” she wrote to Professor Michelle Havenga, the Acting Executive Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

“My view is that this is a very serious matter and I trust that you colleagues will deal with it well,” Prof. Phakeng said.

Observers say the UNISA investigation might recommend the withdrawal of the doctorate degree awarded to Ekundayo Thompson if the allegations in the report are corroborated by the University’s internal investigation.

The international investigation team, however, stated in its report that the evidence contained in the plagiarism report was verified through multiple checking tools used by the publishing industry, and that the clinical verification carried out on Thompson’s dissertation show that the document cannot pass any plagiarism check regardless of the tool employed.

“Our overall findings are that, the entire “Dissertation”, from the above evidence in Chapters 1 & 2, cannot pass any plagiarism test regardless of the method of verification or the plagiarism tool(s) employed,” the report concluded.

Investigators said they had sent the report of the said plagiarism findings to Ekundayo Thompson himself nearly two months ago for his reaction, but he refused to offer any comment on the matter.

“I will not talk to you or anyone concerning this matter. I know the reason why you people are after me,” Ekundayo Thompson said angrily on the phone when he was contacted for a response.

The international investigation, which uncovered the plagiarism evidence, has also been looking at other aspects relating to Ekundayo Thompson’s academic qualifications and the many problems affecting higher education in Sierra Leone.

In a separate investigation report released in early May 2016, they had earlier questioned Thompson’s academic qualifications and the criteria used in his professorial promotion. That report also revealed significant findings, which seriously challenged the credibility of the academic publications listed against Thompson’s name, which they said, might have formed part of the folio that was probably used to determine his qualifications for a professorial position.

Those earlier findings equally pointed to a long chain of irregularities ranging from academic fraud and intellectual deception. It also gave a clear case of how Ekundayo Thompson’s listed publications on Amazon, for instance, did not qualify as academic publications because they failed to meet the publishing industry’s publication standards and distribution requirements. That report also stated, among other things, that Thompson’s listed publications are not formally published academic materials or standard trade publications.

A senior lecturer at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) described the Thompson story as staggering.

“It is the germ of an international disgrace in the making,” he said. “These are serious allegations that call into question the whole basis of integrity in academe. It raises questions about how Thompson was hired; who hired him; and how he got promoted to a professorship in the space of six years after his long-distance degree,” he emphasized, adding that the situation is unprecedented and deserves to be investigated at all levels.

The University of Sierra Leone itself has been at the center of serious controversy since Thompson was appointed to head the country’s premier institution of higher learning by Ernest Bai Koroma, the president of Sierra Leone.

In early April 2016, a report by the London-based Economist Magazine revealed that the university’s student population of over seven thousand has only a total of nine academic professors. All but two are due to retire in the next two years.

University of Sierra Leone suffers another setback over Prof. Abdullah’s case

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has postponed an international workshop for Sierra Leonean scholars scheduled for June 15 and 16, 2016 in Freetown because of ongoing international protests against the University of Sierra Leone over the case of Professor Ibrahim Abdullah.

For several months now, the University of Sierra Leone has come under severe national and international criticisms for its failure to uphold academic freedom and its acts of injustice against the notable academic, Professor Ibrahim Abdullah.

The latest development followed attempts by the University Registrar, Sorie Dumbuya and Memunatu Pratt, the head of the Fourah Bay College Peace and Conflict Studies Program, to exclude Professor Abdullah from participation in a workshop for Sierra Leonean scholars that would have been held next week.

The said international workshop was to be organized by the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) of the Social Science Research Council, which supports independent African research on conflict-affected countries and neighboring regions of the continent. The organization seeks to integrate African knowledge into global policy communities.

The postponed workshop in Freetown was designed to help Sierra Leonean scholars who are interested in updating their knowledge of various aspects of proposal writing, such as framing research questions, research methods and ethics, literature review and proposal budgeting to be able to compete in SSRC-APN grant competitions.

The organizers said peacebuilding researchers in Sierra Leone have had historically low participation and success rates for SSRC-APN grant competitions.

“It was hoped that the workshop will give participants the opportunity to learn more about the various APN grant opportunities, including the application process and proposal requirements, and how to submit a good grant application,” one of the organizers stated.

The postponement came after, Memunatu Pratt, the current head of Fourah Bay College’s Department of Peace and Conflict Studies objected to the inclusion of Professor Ibrahim Abdullah in the workshop.

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) had invited Professor Abdullah to serve as a resource person for the said workshop in Freetown.

“As a leading peacebuilding scholar and researcher, we believe that your insights and experience would be invaluable to participants and wish to extend an invitation to you to serve as a resource person for the workshop. The expectation is that you will make presentation on Contextualizing Research in Existing Literature and hold one-on-one sessions with three proposal writers/participants on ways to improve the quality of the proposal or their papers,” the SSRC had written to Prof. Ibrahim Abdullah on May 4, 2016.
But Head of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Memunatu Pratt protested against the SSRC’s decision to include Prof. Abdullah as a resource person. She alleged that the Registrar of University of Sierra Leone, Sorie Dumbuya does not want the renowned international academic to be included in any of its programs.

“The university administration has made it clear that Prof Abdullah must not participate in any activity that has to do directly with the University or its constituent colleges or departments. In this regard and in the interest of the partnership, it will be our mutual interest for him not to be involved in this program,” she wrote to the SSRC.

Dr. Cyril Obi of the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) and Memunatu Pratt had earlier signed the letter of invitation sent to Professor Abdullah, but Madame Pratt objected to the inclusion of Professor Abdullah without consulting the SSRC.

Professor Ibrahim Abdullah described the University’s decision as an act of war against academic freedom in Sierra Leone. He said his struggle for academic freedom and justice is a battle against “academic jihadists” who want to run a university without regards for law.

“The powers vested in the Registrar has to be exercised within the laws of Sierra Leone—- not any arbitrary norm or illegalities designed by Mr. Dumbuya or any of his subalterns to undermine democratic institutions and practices. Neither the Registrar nor you, Ms. Pratt has any instrument on which you could stand in excluding me from participating in any meeting. At issue here is the continued violation of my academic rights of which you Ms. Pratt is now a party,” Prof. Abdullah wrote to Memunatu Pratt and the University Registrar, Sorie Dumbuya.

Following the evolving controversy, the SSRC has resolved to postpone the workshop and there are now concerns that this would result to sour relations with Fourah Bay College.

Observers say this latest development will also have severe impacts on the University’s relationship with other partner institutions around the world.

A lecturer in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies expressed anger over the action of Memunatu Pratt and the University Registrar, Sorie Dumbuya on the matter saying that the SSRC’s decision to postpone the workshop is not good for the University of Sierra Leone.

“The University must respect academic freedom and standards and it must address the case of Prof. Abdullah,” he said.

Professor Abdullah is one of Africa’s leading contemporary historians and also renowned conflict scholar in West Africa. Between 2002-2004, he was awarded a prestigious SSRC grant as part of his research on issues around the conflicts of the 1990s in West Africa.

Since January 2016, he has been engaged in a protracted struggle against university administrators at Fourah Bay College over decline in teaching and learning standards in the University of Sierra Leone. University authorities retaliated against his open criticisms of the current status of the university by suspending his salary and took an illegitimate decision to revoke his tenured professorial position. The case has drawn national and international attention with several petitions sent to the president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma who technically serves as the head of the University of Sierra Leone.

In early April 2016, an international conference of academics meeting in Lilongwe, Malawi described Prof. Abdullah’s case as a violation of national and international laws relating to academic freedom and justice.

“We believe that Professor Ibrahim Abdullah, a distinguished scholar of high international repute, raised questions of academic standards because of his deep commitment to his university and country,” they said in a letter sent to Sierra Leone president through the Council for the Development of Social Science Research (CODESRIA) on April 20, 2016.

Report on Ekundayo Thompson’s Amazon Findings

 

 

 

The higher education crisis in Sierra Leone is the focus of an international investigation, which sheds light into the history of an ongoing practice of questionable promotions criteria that is a key factor in the ineptitude and management problems bedeviling the university.

The recent investigation centered, in particular, on the academic records and qualifications of the current Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, Ekundayo J. D. Thompson. Thompson’s professorial promotion and subsequent appointment to head the university are at the heart of two separate investigations. The said investigations’ reports seriously question the credibility of the academic publications listed against Thompson’s name, which may have formed part of the folio that was probably used to determine his qualifications for a professorial position.

The investigation report uncovered evidence that challenges both the validity of Thompson’s qualifications and his promotion. The findings, which are contained in the above report entitled “Ekundayo Thompson’s Amazon Findings”, point to a long chain of irregularities ranging from academic fraud and intellectual deception. It gives a clear case of how Ekundayo Thompson’s listed publications on Amazon, for instance, do not qualify as academic publications because they failed to meet the publishing industry’s publication standards and distribution requirements. The report states, among other things, that Thompson’s listed publications are not formally published academic materials or standard trade publications.

It raises a question regarding the list of publications that were used as materials to determine his suitability for a professorial promotion. The report clearly states that if the listed publications on Amazon were part of the material, then the scoring criteria used failed to meet the university’s required benchmarks for professorial promotions. Ekundayo Thompson had listed four publications on Amazon, claiming the titles were all published between 1992 and 1997. The listed titles include “The Prince of AALAE: Corruption and Mismanagement in an African NGO”, “Curriculum Development in Non-formal Education, Some Thoughts on Adult Education: A Collection of Papers and Articles”, and “The Umm Kedddada [sic] Experience: Report of a People-to- People Visit to Umm Keddada Province, North Darfur, Republic of Sudan, January 25-February 9, 1995.”

The investigation report, however, states that the Amazon records do not show evidence that any of the listed items were actually bought or sold on the Amazon’s space where they were listed. And there is no record on Amazon to indicate that the items were actually re-published.

“Ekundayo Thompson’s listings on Amazon were placed through the third method,” the report stated. It was discovered that an independent squatter trader on Amazon listed Thompson’s supposed publication as general commodities for sale and not as books. This actually meant that the so-called publications did not meet any of the industry standards used for book publication and distribution.

It adds that Thompson’s listed publications have “no ISBN numbers, which every published book requires. In addition, they are not in any book format. They are in an unknown binding format. This being the case, they were never published through any method: traditional or self-publishing.”
“If such items were to be actually available, it means that a third party can only sell them as used items (supposedly used books) or as republished books. The records on Amazon show that at no time were any of the listed items actually bought or sold on the Amazon space that they were listed. And there is no record on Amazon to indicate that the items were republished. This only means that the items were listed but were not truly available and cannot be accessed or bought from any retailer,” the investigators reported.

The report clearly disputes claims on the availability of Thompson’s publications on Amazon’s book distribution channels or any place whatsoever.

It concludes that “Ekundayo Thompson, has no conventionally published book on Amazon.com at present. The listed books do not exist on Amazon, and they were never made available on Amazon for actual sale. It is possible that the information was placed on Amazon for a specific purpose other than trade, which is unusual with the procedures of listings followed by Amazon booksellers.”

In one case, the investigation pointed out a serious case of ISBN theft by Thompson. It was found that one of the identifiers stitched on one of Thompson’s supposed publications, carried identifier numbers that belonged to a book on non-formal education published in Mexico.

This raises a significant question: Did Ekundayo Thompson set out to create the impression that he owned academic publications in order to achieve academic positions without due merit?

 

 

Corruption in the Sierra Leone Academe: Who is Ekundayo J. D. Thompson?

A recent independent investigation into the operations of the University of Sierra Leone, and of Fourah Bay College in particular, has unearthed the root causes of the crisis that now plagues higher education in Sierra Leone. The investigation, which focused on the causes of decline in teaching and learning standards in the oldest western-style institution of higher learning in Sub-Saharan Africa, exposes a chronically corrupt practice, spanning decades, of how certain academic staff in the University of Sierra Leone (lecturers and university administrators) were hired and promoted through questionable circumstances.

In early April, London-based The Economist Magazine published an alarming news story detailing the ways in which the rising student population in the University of Sierra Leone lacks the required number of academic professors to attend to their teaching needs. The current population of seven thousand students, according to The Economist, has only seven academic professors to cater to their educational needs. The disturbing news report came at the heels of a protracted case between a renowned African historian, Professor Ibrahim Abdullah and the Fourah Bay College administration.

Professor Abdullah, a reputable international scholar and the only academic with a PhD in history in the Department of History and African Studies of Fourah Bay College, had his tenured professorial position revoked in January 2016 by university administrators through unprecedented and illegal procedures. The illegal and unfair decision, condemned by national and international groups, was in response to Professor Abdullah’s ongoing call for academic standards and excellence. University records indicate that Professor Abdullah has been critical of the way the university operates. He has spoken openly against declining teaching and learning standards in the university: a position that angered leading university administrators. In retaliation, they resorted to dubious and questionable procedures aimed at removing the revered professor from the campus as part of, what many say is, a strategy to cover-up the ills afflicting university education in the country.

Professor Abdullah’s matter, which began as a struggle against the illegal decision of the university administration, quickly turned into an international affair with serious interests. International and national protests followed the decisions of university administrators to remove him from the campus. In April, a group of international academics that met in Lilongwe, Malawi under the auspices of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) sent a petition to the president of Sierra Leone condemning the unfair treatment of Professor Abdullah.

While protests over Professor Abdullah’s matter still hangs on the heads of the university, the floodlights have now been turned on the decaying status of Fourah Bay College and the questionable qualifications and promotions of leading administrators in the university.

The higher education crisis in Sierra Leone is the focus of an international investigation, which sheds light into the history of an ongoing practice of questionable promotions criteria that is a key factor in the ineptitude and management problems bedeviling the university.

The recent investigation centered, in particular, on the academic records and qualifications of the current Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, Ekundayo J. D. Thompson. Thompson’s professorial promotion and subsequent appointment to head the university are at the heart of two separate investigations. The said investigations’ reports seriously question the credibility of the academic publications listed against Thompson’s name, which may have formed part of the folio that was probably used to determine his qualifications for a professorial position.

One of the reports of the investigation contains damning information that sheds significant doubts on Thompson’s academic qualifications and casts suspicions on the overall methodology used to elevate Thompson into the ranks of professors in the country. The said investigation report raised a fundamental question relating to the publication requirement normally used as “scoring” criteria by university authorities to determine academic promotions. It seeks to determine whether Thompson’s academic publications, which are listed on Amazon, sufficiently met the “scoring criteria” supposedly used to determine his promotion into the ranks of professors in the country?

The investigation report uncovered evidence that challenges both the validity of Thompson’s qualifications and his promotion. The findings, which are contained in a report titled “Ekundayo Thompson’s Amazon Findings”, point to a long chain of irregularities ranging from academic fraud and intellectual deception. It gives a clear case of how Ekundayo Thompson’s listed publications on Amazon, for instance, do not qualify as academic publications because they failed to meet the publishing industry’s publication standards and distribution requirements. The report states, among other things, that Thompson’s listed publications are not formally published academic materials or standard trade publications.

It raises a question regarding the list of publications that were used as materials to determine his suitability for a professorial promotion. The report clearly states that if the listed publications on Amazon were part of the material, then the scoring criteria used failed to meet the university’s required benchmarks for professorial promotions. Ekundayo Thompson had listed four publications on Amazon, claiming the titles were all published between 1992 and 1997. The listed titles include “The Prince of AALAE: Corruption and Mismanagement in an African NGO”, “Curriculum Development in Non-formal Education, Some Thoughts on Adult Education: A Collection of Papers and Articles”, and “The Umm Kedddada [sic] Experience: Report of a People-to- People Visit to Umm Keddada Province, North Darfur, Republic of Sudan, January 25-February 9, 1995.”

The investigation report, however, states that the Amazon records do not show evidence that any of the listed items were actually bought or sold on the Amazon’s space where they were listed. And there is no record on Amazon to indicate that the items were actually re-published.

“Ekundayo Thompson’s listings on Amazon were placed through the third method,” the report stated. It was discovered that an independent squatter trader on Amazon listed Thompson’s supposed publication as general commodities for sale and not as books. This actually meant that the so-called publications did not meet any of the industry standards used for book publication and distribution.

It adds that Thompson’s listed publications have “no ISBN numbers, which every published book requires. In addition, they are not in any book format. They are in an unknown binding format. This being the case, they were never published through any method: traditional or self-publishing.”
“If such items were to be actually available, it means that a third party can only sell them as used items (supposedly used books) or as republished books. The records on Amazon show that at no time were any of the listed items actually bought or sold on the Amazon space that they were listed. And there is no record on Amazon to indicate that the items were republished. This only means that the items were listed but were not truly available and cannot be accessed or bought from any retailer,” the investigators reported.

The report clearly disputes claims on the availability of Thompson’s publications on Amazon’s book distribution channels or any place whatsoever.

It concludes that “Ekundayo Thompson, has no conventionally published book on Amazon.com at present. The listed books do not exist on Amazon, and they were never made available on Amazon for actual sale. It is possible that the information was placed on Amazon for a specific purpose other than trade, which is unusual with the procedures of listings followed by Amazon booksellers.”

In one case, the investigation pointed out a serious case of ISBN theft by Thompson. It was found that one of the identifiers stitched on one of Thompson’s supposed publications, carried identifier numbers that belonged to a book on non-formal education published in Mexico.

This raises a significant question: Did Ekundayo Thompson set out to create the impression that he owned academic publications in order to achieve academic positions without due merit?

The investigators state clearly that they found no evidence of Thompson owning any published book that is readily accessible in the book industry, whether through traditional publishers or independent publishers. This fact poses a serious question on the criteria used to promote Ekundayo Thompson into the rank of a professor and subsequently to head of the University of Sierra Leone. University records show that Thompson’s assessment and promotion was made on a score done by one Dr. Vidal Godwin, who is alleged to have used a questionable and non-transparent method to elevate Thompson’s status within the ranks of the academic community in Sierra Leone.

The University of Sierra Leone’s “scoring system” has come under severe criticisms in recent decades because of the obviously rising evidence of nepotism and favoritism that privileges individuals for academic promotion based on certain political and other interests and considerations.

“It allows for individuals without any publications to be promoted if only they have a godfather. The university has become a decadent rotten civil service where knowledge is devalorized and mediocrity extolled as the norm” a senior academic in the University of Sierra Leone explained.

Ekundayo Thompson refuses to comment on the evidence contained in the report.

“I will not talk to you or anyone concerning this matter. I know the reason why you people are after me,” Thompson said angrily on the phone when he was contacted for a response.