Cheat sheets

True story accompanying image

In the end the teachers didn’t come out. It was too late. The officers from the Examination Council were already in the school building observing the exams in progress. Despite having quickly worked out the solutions to the exam in a back room, the teachers wouldn’t be able to feed them to their students after all.

For years teachers at a senior high school in Ghana reportedly demanded bribes of around US$35 from students in exchange for helping them pass their final exams. Students and their families faced a difficult choice given these exams must be passed in order to enter university. While already a devastating practice, the situation worsened when a few teachers allegedly decided to boost their earnings by demanding US$5,900 directly from the school itself, knowing the exam pass rate shapes its reputation.

Kofi* had taught maths at the school for a long time and thought such demands were not only wrong, but also something the school simply couldn’t afford - US$5,900 could pay the annual tuition contributions for 15 students.

The end of year exams were already in progress when Kofi came to our centre to report what was going on, and we had to move quickly. Our centre immediately called and sent an official letter to the local examination authorities. They also responded quickly and sent officers to the school the following day.

Because the teachers demanding the bribe were warned about the officers, they stayed in the back room and didn’t help students cheat after all, but nor could they collect their bribes. Thanks to one teacher speaking out, the intervention from our centre and the local authorities stopped their intended extortion dead in its tracks. Still, this is just one case of a wider problem, which is exactly why Transparency International is working with schools and education authorities in Ghana and other countries to keep classrooms corruption free.

* Names have been changed.

This case is one of thousands processed by Transparency International’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres. The centres, now in more than 50 countries, provide free assistance to victims and witnesses of corruption, helping them to pursue their complaints.

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