Khursheed Nabi

Saving education sector from corruption

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Corruption is a form of criminal offense undertaken by a person entrusted with a position of authority, to acquire illicit benefit or abuse power for one’s personal gain apart from organizational or mutual gain. It includes activities like bribery and embezzlement. Corruption can occur at a small scale (Between a few number of people) as well as at large scale that may affect the government of the state. It is an endemic sociological occurrence which appears with regular frequency in virtually all countries on a global scale in varying degree and proportion.

Education is a fundamental human right. All children , without  discrimination of creed, caste, colour and gender are entitled to free quality education and should have full access to education. Because education gives access to better opportunities in life since helps in economic stability as well as social mobility. Therefore education sector should be particularly exemplary and schooling fair. Every student should be given equal opportunities to avail different educational facilities.

Corruption in education is a serious threat to human race as it leads to unemployment, poverty, low level of education, poor technological development and sub-standard educational infrastructure. Corruption is endemic in education in many developed countries. The Dakar Framework of Action (2000) adopted by the world Education Forum remarked, ‘corruption is a major drain on the effective use of resources for education and should be drastically curbed.’

Corruption in education affects society more than the corruption in other sectors. Its harsh effects are particularly visible on poor, who have a little chance to escape a life of poverty without access to education, regardless of the quality of such education. The illegal payments for institutional admissions lead to deletion of candidates from the admission list, who despite being meritorious can’t afford to pay a handsome amount. That results in low school enrollment of poor students in schools. Corruption also occurs in the form of bribes paid by parents to ensure good grades of their wards keeping aside their actual performance and progress. It is therefore a bias towards pupil on ethical grounds. The students are awarded by bypassing student assessment criteria. Therefore corruption in education includes bribes, embezzlement, bypassing criteria for admission as well as assessment, academic fraud, favoritism, nepotism, which constitute abuse of power for private gain of an individual. The practices may take place in school management, admissions, examination as well as teacher recruitment and selection.

Educational institutions have become profit oriented in their struggle to survive, thus neglecting their basic services towards the society. Hence, it is being witnessed that educational institutions emerge uncontrollably, offering the similar or almost similar curricula in order to attract a large number of students, rather the curricula demanded to cater to the needs of the labour market, coping with the crisis the world is faced with nowadays. These institutions are recognized through a system of accreditation that is traditionally managed by the Government.

Corruption may thus occur in the process of accreditation and licensing. The institutions may exercise an unfair practice in getting the necessary authorization or recognition bypassing the criteria for such authorization. The corrupt accreditation will lead to poor institutional standard and may place society at risk by producing students with poor professional standards.

Corruption in education threatens the wellbeing of society as it erodes social trust and promotes inequality. It affects development by undermining the formation of educated, competent and ethical individuals for future leadership and the labour force. At school level corruption affects policy making and planning, school management and teacher conduct. That include academic violations, favoritism in school admission and teacher appointments, procurement of substandard school textbooks and material, diversion of funds and equipments, teacher absenteeism etc. Favoritism can put incompetent and unqualified teachers in the classes. Thus the behavior of such teachers may cause students to dropout of school. While corruption in procurement can result in supplies of inferior quality of text books and other material. Thus it is crucial to safeguard scare education resources by reducing theft, embezzlement, diversion and waste etc.

Education is a drive of development, but corruption weakens this role. In order to prevent education system from corruption stakeholders should engage in dialogue and make different anticorruption strategies in education. For the purpose transparency-promoting tools like ICTs, participatory budgeting, public expenditure tackling surveys, social audit can be used. Also accountability promoting tools like performance based contracting, teacher codes of conduct, community monitoring, salary reforms, procurement reforms etc should be put into action. Values, integrity and anti-corruption education in school curriculum may also serve the purpose. Corruption in education can’t be prevented individually , therefore preventive measures must be built in reform programmes at various levels. There should me a clear complaint mechanism for students and parents. Also parents, teachers and civil society in general should have a say in educational planning and management.

– The writer is a student at IASE Srinagar and can be reached at [email protected]

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