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Corruption in education steals the future from the next generation

Stealing the Future – Corruption in the Classroom – new publication launched by TI

Corruption in education seriously undermines political, economic and social, development and has a devastating effect on the lives of students and parents, according to Stealing the Future – Corruption in the Classroom, launched today by Transparency International.

Bribes and other illegal fees required for admission to schools, to ensure good grades or for lessons in the required curriculum are a heavy burden on families, particularly for the poor, and help explain low school enrollment and high drop-out rates.

“A basic textbook and a good grade should not depend on greasing the palm of a corrupt teacher or administrator,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International. “Poor parents who are forced to pay up may choose instead to feed their families, leaving a generation of students without a proper education and perpetuating the poverty trap.”

Studies carried out by Transparency International chapters in Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Georgia, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Sierra Leone and Zambia show the extent and forms of corruption in schools, universities and in education administration, and illustrate the need for civil society to work hand-in-hand with parents, students and teachers to hold governments, schools and universities accountable for good education.

Stealing the Future, an 85-page booklet, is being launched as part of International Anti-Corruption Day. It presents the local reality of corruption in education and documents hands-on tools to prevent it. Through public opinion polls, household surveys and tracking of expenditures at the local level, the studies present a panorama of views and experiences.

Corruption in textbook and school building procurement deprives students of the materials and supportive learning environment they need to succeed. Corruption in teaching appointments and promotions allows poorly qualified educators to reach positions they do not deserve, and significantly lowers the quality of teaching. But most importantly, corruption at schools and universities contradicts basic values of integrity, equity and the public good, ultimately destroying the trust in government that is necessary for social and economic development.

At the World Education Forum in Dakar in April 2000, 180 nations committed to achieving quality education for all the world’s children by 2015. In the same year, the United Nations Millennium Summit endorsed the achievement of universal primary education as the second Millennium Development Goal. Corruption in education severely diminishes the chances of achieving these important goals.

What are the most prevalent forms of corruption in education? How widespread is it? How do ordinary people feel about it? And most important, what can be done about it? Stealing the Future – Corruption in the Classroom provides the answers:

  • The Argentina study shows how conflicts of interest and corruption were prevented in the awarding of a US$ 14 million contract for school textbooks for 2 million school children.
  • An opinion poll conducted at two major universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina reveals that bribes for passing exams and the selling of diplomas are the most common forms of corruption on campus.
  • In Brazil, a study found that poor municipalities lose up to 55 percent of their federal school subsidies due to fraud in procurement.
  • In Georgia, a new centralised university admission exam is considered fair and impartial by most parents, students and administrators, leaving no opportunities for corruption.
  • In Mexico, the average household is found to pay US$ 30 per year in kickbacks and bribes for access to education that is legally free.
  • The Nepal study examined non-formal education programmes for child labourers run by NGOs, and reveals a lack of clear criteria for the selection of beneficiaries, leaving scope for abuse and fraud.
  • In Nicaragua, the education ministry lost US$ 800,000 in six major school upgrade and repair projects due to a lack of checks and balances in project implementation.
  • An opinion poll conducted in Niger’s capital found that corruption is rampant at schools and universities, revealing illegal payments for school entrance, grades and scholarships.
  • In Sierra Leone, only 70 percent of pupils say they have received textbooks and teaching materials that they were entitled to, despite the fact that schools received all the materials in question.
  • In Zambia, parent-teacher associations that run schools’ finances were found to be an effective deterrent to misappropriation and fraud.

Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.

The pdf version of Stealing the Future and the flyer are available here.

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