Corruption in Education Sector

Education is a driver of development however corruption and under funding weaken this function.

When this occurs, a central function of the education sector – to teach moral values and behavior – becomes impossible|. Instead, education contributes to corruption changing into the norm in any levels of the society. Social belief is eroded, and the development potential {of countries is sabotaged.

In 2015, countries agreed to pursue 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal four requires ‘inclusive and equitable quality education for all.’ However, the 2017 progress report on SDG four revealed that worldwide, 263 million children of school-going age were not enrolled in school, together with sixty one million of primary school age. The 2018 progress report confirmed that only 41% of children in sub-Saharan Africa and 52% in North Africa and Western Asia attend school. Moreover, many who are in school especially in Africa and Latin America do not| acquire essential skills. The 2018 report found that about 617 million youth worldwide of primary and lower secondary school age – 58% of that age group – are not attaining minimal proficiency in studying and arithmetic}. The reasons include lack of trained academics and poor school amenities.

Corruption, ‘the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain,’ contributes to poor education outcomes in several ways. Embezzlement or diversion of college funds deprives colleges of needed resources. Nepotism and favouritism can lead to poorly certified teachers being appointed, whereas corruption in procurement can lead to school textbooks and other supplies of inferior quality. Children, especially girl youngsters, who are harassed for sex by their teachers could drop out of school. When families must pay bribes or fraudulent ‘charges’ for educational services which are supposed to be free, this acts as an added tax, placing poor students at a disadvantage and reducing equal access to education. Tackling corruption is therefore essential if SDG 4 is to be attained.

An underfunded sector

Governments need a lot of money to supply quality and inclusive education, but domestic funding is limited. Many poor countries rely on development assistance to fund their education programmes.

According to Donor Tracker, development assistance for education reached $12.4 billion in 2016, after some years of stagnation. Even though assistance to the sector has increased in volume, it’s only 7% of whole ODA on average. This amount is lower than the estimated $39 billion per year in further external financing that low-income and lower-middle-income countries would want to attain the SDG on education. Donor countries provided 72%, or $8.9 billion, of the aid obtained in 2016, whereas the rest came from multilateral funding bodies such as the Global Partnership for Education, the World Bank, and the European Union.

Examples of corruption within the education sector

  • Illegal charges are levied on youngsters’s school admission forms, which are supposed to be free.
  • School locations are ‘auctioned’ to the highest bidder.
  • Children from certain communities are favoured for admission, whereas others are subjected to additional payments.
  • Good grades and exam results are obtained through bribes to lecturers and public officers. The costs are sometimes well-known, and candidates are expected to pay up front.
  • Examination results are only released upon payment.
  • School property is used for personal business purposes.
  • Pupils perform unpaid labour for {the benefit of employees.
  • Teacher recruitment and postings are influenced by nepotism, favouritism, bribes, or sexual favours.
  • Teachers or officials take advantage of their office to to acquire} sexual favours in exchange for employment, promotion, good grades, or any other educational good.
  • Bribes are paid to auditors for not disclosing the misuse of funds.
  • There is embezzlement of funds allocated by the government| or raised by local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and parents’ organisations.

The role of ICTs

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become necessary in promoting transparency in governance. This has been achieved through email and SMS mechanisms for complaints and feedback, open data initiatives, digital right-to-information platforms, interactive geo-mapping, voice reporting and citizen journalism, blogs, wikis, and data management techniques. Social media platforms {such as Facebook and Twitter have also improved the interaction between service delivery companies and the general public. Many public companies’ websites include links that citizens can use to ask questions or complain about service delivery. India’s ‘I Paid a Bribe’ website is one of the best-recognized platforms for crowdsourcing complaints about bribery. Additionally, digitisation and automation can reduce opportunities for bribery by eliminating or reducing face-to-face interactions between citizens and bureaucrats. Mobile money transfers, for instance, facilitate direct money transfers to the poor and displaced, tremendously reducing the chance of leakage, diversion, and theft in social safety programmes.


The choice of which anti-corruption strategy to adopt ought to emerge from the evaluation process, considering the political context, civic engagement and capacity, value of interventions, and some other relevant socioeconomic components. There is no blueprint or magic bullet that can solve corruption |issues, however progress can be and has been made in reducing resource leakage and wastage and in controlling |legal and unethical behaviour that compromises learning outcomes.