From improper budget spending and insufficient access to education, to poor teaching practices and nepotism, corruption in education is rampant across Africa, robbing millions of young people of their right to knowledge and a decent future.
In the recently released Global Corruption Report: Education, Transparency International showed that corruption has a devastating impact on developing nations, particularly in Africa, hindering progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and jeopardising social and economic development.
Almost one in three Africans paid bribes to education services last year, according to Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer and education is perceived as a very corrupt sector.
The Global Corruption Report: Education shines light on the multiple manifestations of corrupt and unethical practices in education, be they the embezzlement of national education funds in Kenya, the selling of fake diplomas in Niger, teacher absenteeism in Cameroon, or sexual harassment by male lecturers in Nigeria.
The report also shows that if not addressed, corruption may even lead to the collapse of a country’s entire education system, and the waste of scarce public resources.
Taking bold steps to prevent the abuse of power, bribery and secret dealings from corroding the educational experience is particularly important not only to keep children in school but also to help them acquire the skills and knowledge that will enable them to contribute to their country's development.
“Most indicators from the United Nations and other institutions show that Africa is way behind other regions as far as education is concerned. We lack good educational structures and basic infrastructures, and there are not enough schools for the growing numbers of children. For those in school, corruption is learnt from a young age, and even accepted as a norm for them and society,” said Chantal Uwimana, Director of the Sub-Saharan Africa Department at Transparency International.
“Governments should account for the huge sums of money that are invested in the education sector and be serious about teaching children the value of honesty,” Uwimana added.
Implementing measures such as access to information on education policy, codes of conduct for educators, parent and student participation in governance, and clear systems of oversight and accountability on expenditures would ensure that resources end up where they should: building schools, paying teachers and buying textbooks.
In assessing the way forward, the Global Corruption Report: Education highlights new approaches to halting corruption in education. The report explores:
To prevent corruption from becoming commonplace, Transparency International calls on governments, international organisations, businesses and civil society in the region to strengthen governance at all levels of education.
Transparency International’s chapters in Africa demonstrate that developing wide-ranging approaches such as citizen reporting and strengthening oversight in education management systems can go a long way in ending corruption.
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption
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