Everyone is now keen to engage and take action in the fight against education problems. Countries are gearing up for 2030 with the hope of meeting SDG 4 among other goals.
It has been discussed that more funds are needed to completely deal with education problems, for instance, universal schooling. However, funds alone are just not enough. In the course of raising more funds to close the deficit in education, countries also need to deal with corruption.
The 2013 Global Corruption Report: Education by Transparency International notes that:
In the case of South Africa, for example, data was collected from a broad cross-section of stakeholders to produce governance risk maps describing transactions between specific actors in the primary education sector that are likely to involve corrupt practices. The findings from South Africa indicate that, while corruption risks at the higher levels of administration are limited, serious governance and performance deficits exist further down the chain, most notably at school level.
In 2012 the department of basic education in South Africa failed to deliver textbooks on time to some schools in Limpopo. This according to Judy Kolappen was a violation of the constitutional right to education. Meaning the department simply denied learners from these schools the right to education.
It doesn’t end there, for a long time, salaries have been paid to ghost teachers in South African schools. In 2016, the provincial Department of Education in Kwa-Zulu Natal froze salaries of about 4 334 teachers who were nowhere to be found when a head count was conducted in the province. This happens when the school principal doesn’t report that a teacher at their school has passed on. They would then receive the salary of the deceased.
All of the above mentioned cases are cases that happen at the lower level of the department’s structure, which makes it hard to track due to hierarchies. This in turn results in a lot of money that is raised through taxpayers going down the drain.
Corruption in education is not only a problem in South Africa. Bribes to reserve a seat at a prestigious primary school in Vietnam, for example, are documented to be running at a level more than double the country’s GDP per capita (Stephanie Chow and Dao Thi Nga, Chapter 2.6 in this volume.)
Corruption in schools can include procurement in construction, ‘shadow schools’ – there are claims of up to 8,000 in Pakistan alone (Syed Adil Gilani, Chapter 2.2 in this volume, and News International (Pakistan), ‘Billions Sunk in 8,000 Ghost Schools: Offi cial’, 18 July 2012.)
In addition to this, ‘ghost teachers’ and the diversion of resources intended for textbooks and supplies, bribery in access to education and the buying of grades, nepotism in teacher appointments and fake diplomas, the misuse of school grants for private gain, absenteeism, and private tutoring in place of formal teaching – costing South Korean households some US$17 billion, or 80 per cent of total government expenditure on education, in 2009 alone (Mark Bray and Chad Lykins, Shadow Education: Private Supplementary Tutoring and Its Implications for Policy Makers in Asia (Manila: Asian Development Bank, 2012), p. 21, figure 1, quoting Korean National Statistical Office 2011–2012)
In order to meet education goals, in order to ensure that the funds being raised to tackle educational issues are being used responsibly and resourcefully, corruption needs to be looked at differently, especially in the lower levels of government. Tackling corruption would be one step closer to achieving education goals.