Stealing the future: corruption in the classroom. Ten real world experiences

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


Stealing the Future - Corruption in the Classroom presents 10 studies carried out by national chapters in Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Georgia, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Sierra Leone and Zambia. The studies assess the extent of corruption in schools, universities and education administration, providing examples of how civil society can help curb corrupt practices

Text of Stealing the future: corruption in the classroom. Ten real world experiences

  • Stealing the FutureCorruption in the Classroom

    Ten Real World Experiences

  • Title Page: Photo: Anissa ThompsonBack Cover: Hazel Arguello Valverde

  • Ten Real World Experiences

    Stealing the FutureCorruption in the Classroom

  • 2 | C O P Y R I G H T N O T I C E

    Copyright 2005 by Transparency InternationalAll rights reserved

    Stealing the Future: Corruption in the Classroom can be reproduced, in partor in its entirety, only with the due acknowledgement of Transparency Inter-national and the author of the respective text.

    Every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information containedin this booklet. The authors are responsible for the accuracy and completenessof the content of their texts. Transparency International does not accept re-sponsibility for the consequences of the use of this booklet in other contextsor for other purposes.

    Edited by Bettina Meier and Michael Griffin

    Transparency InternationalAlt Moabit 9610559 BerlinGermany

    This publication was made possible with the support of the German Ministryfor Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ).

  • T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S | 3

    Table of Contents

    Foreword Muriel Poisson and Jacques Hallak

    Corruption in Education: An Introduction Bettina Meier

    ArgentinaProcurement: A Textbook Case 16

    Bosnia and HerzegovinaA Copy-and-Paste Approach to University Success 24

    BrazilThe Hidden Cost of Decentralised Education 31

    GeorgiaA New Beginning for Georgias University Admissions 36

    MexicoThe Price of a Place in School 44

    NepalMissing the Target on Child Labour 50

    NicaraguaBuilding Better Schools 57

    NigerCorruption in Higher Education: Peoples Perceptions 62

    Sierra LeoneExpenditure Tracking: Detecting Leakages at Primary Schools 70

    ZambiaLocal Administration: A Recipe for Success? 77

    Contact Details of Contributors 84

  • 4 | A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S

    AcknowledgementsI would like to thank the many individuals who have helped develop this booklet, above all the authors of the reports. I am grateful to Hazel Mowbrayfor helping to prepare this publication and to Cobus de Swardt for his helpfulcomments. Thanks are also due to regional programme staff at the TI Secre-tariat for their support.

    Translations have been provided by Michele Bantz, Patricia Brutus and Yani-na Vega many thanks indeed! A special thank you goes to Milli Lake for herdedication and commitment to this publication, and her patience and goodhumour. Finally, thanks to Michael Griffin for editing the texts.

    The illustrations on pages 21, 32, 46, 48, 61 and on the back cover derive froma drawing contest for youth in Nicaragua, organised by Deutsche Gesellschaftfr Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) in February 2004. Thanks for allowingus to use them.

    Bettina MeierTI SecretariatEducation Programme

    Stealing the Future: Corruption in the Classroom is available as pdf documenton the TI website at

    Please send feedback and comments to

  • F O R E W O R D | 5

    ForewordThe likelihood of achieving the Education for All goals1 has never been as gre-at as it is today: the international community is committed to attaining accessto primary education for all children by 2015 and international aid for edu-cation is on the increase. At the same time, however, there is a shared viewamong educational stakeholders that these goals may never be reached ontime, primarily because of the lack of instruments to curb corrupt practices inthe education sector. Indeed, in a context of decentralisation, diversification,privatisation and globalisation of educational services, ensuring that fundsallocated to education contribute effectively to achieving the goals set is a keyconcern.

    The work presented in this report, which was undertaken by 10 TransparencyInternational national chapters from across the globe, represents a valuableattempt at addressing this concern. It presents first-hand information on op-portunities for corruption in different education systems, and documents pro-mising approaches for reducing such opportunities in a variety of domains,including financing, textbook production, scholarships and examinations.Some of the issues discussed, such as procurements, are of relevance to thewhole public sector. Others, such as academic fraud, are more specific to edu-cation. All of them, however, plead for more transparency and accountabilityin the management of educational resources.

    The conclusions to be drawn from these studies are fully in line with workconducted worldwide on similar topics particularly, within the framework ofthe international programme on Ethics and corruption in education develo-ped by the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP). The crucialrole, for instance, played by teachers behaviour both in directly reducingcorrupt practices within the education sector and doing so indirectly, by pro-moting ethical values is confirmed by other studies.2

    The role that civil society organisations can play in this context is three-fold.First, due to their proximity to local communities and their exposure to school-level developments, they can provide information and provoke

    1 At the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000, 180 countries committed themselves to pro-viding quality education for all the worlds children by 2015. The UN Millennium Summit inNew York (2000) endorsed the achievement of universal primary education by 2015 as thesecond Millennium Development Goal.

    2 For more information on IIEPs project Ethics and Corruption in Education, please go to A list of studies produced by theproject can be found at

  • 6 | F O R E W O R D

    discussion on sensitive issues such as corruption. Second, thanks to the activist role they adopt, they have a powerful influence on a variety of stake-holders (pupils, parents, teachers, local authorities, decision-makers), contri-buting significantly to raising awareness. They are agents of change, increa-sing transparency in the daily routines of educational systems and helping todevelop and deploy appropriate monitoring mechanisms. Third, through theirwider network, they can serve as a bridge between users of educational servi-ces and public authorities so as to facilitate access to information, ensuringtransparency in educational management and financing, and preventing mal-practice.

    For all these reasons, we welcome the work conducted through TransparencyInternationals network and hope that its results will contribute to improvingtransparency and accountability in education and therefore to reaching theEducation for All goals.

    Jacques Hallak and Muriel PoissonInternational Institute for Educational Planning

  • I N T R O D U C T I O N | 7

    Corruption in Education: An IntroductionCorruption in education is a major drain on development

    and should be drastically curbedWorld Education Forum: Dakar Framework of Action (2000)

    Education is a human right. For people, it may often be the only way to es-cape a life of poverty; for nations, it is crucial to development and growth.Education ideally transmits values such as integrity, equality and social jus-tice, and the sense of shared responsibility that is key to social cohesion andgood governance.

    Corruption in education can have a devastating effect on a countrys well be-ing. Its costs - illegal fees and bribes for admission, examination or tuition are a heavy burden for poor parents. Corruption in the procurement of text-books or new school buildings is a strain on the education budget and deprivesstudents of the materials and learning environment they need. Corruption inteacher appointment and promotion impacts on the quality of teaching, al-lowing less qualified and possibly unfit teachers and administrators to reachpositions they do not merit. Students who manage to proceed with their edu-cation, despite these disadvantages, may be poorly skilled and thus add lessvalue to the economy and public sector during their professional life.

    Perhaps the highest cost of corruption in education is loss of trust. If people(especially the young) come to believe that school or university admission andmarks can be bought, a countrys economic and political future is in jeopardy.The education sector rightfully is expected to be fair and impartial. Schoolshould transmit concepts of political representation, human rights, solidarityand the public good. Corrupt practices at schools and universities directly con-tradict these concepts, destroying the trust that is necessary to the develop-ment of communities.

    Examples of corruption in educationEducation is often the only way a family can escape a life of poverty andachieve social advancement, so parents naturally want their children to suc-ceed at school. This leaves plenty of scope for abuse by teachers and officials.The most common forms of corruption in education are:

  • 8 | I N T R O D U C T I O N

    Parents may be recommended to buy a book or teaching aid that theirchilds present or future teacher has written

    Parents may be advised to pay for private tuition in which the teacher,after official school hours, teaches their child the essentials of the cur-riculum

    Parents may be asked to contribute voluntary donations for school in-frastructure or extra-curricular activities. Failure to do so might resultfor example in schools withholding students records or report cards.

    Since achieving Education for All (EFA) has been determined as key to devel-opment it forms par