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African corruption call

From improper budget spending and insufficient access to education, to poor teaching practices and nepotism, corruption in education is rampant across Africa, robbing millions of young people of their right to knowledge and a decent future, says the anti-corruption pressure group Transparency International (TI).
In the recently released Global Corruption Report: Education, TI pointed to corruption having a devastating impact on developing nations, particularly in Africa, hindering progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and jeopardising social and economic development. Almost one in three Africans paid bribes to education services last year, according to TI’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer and education is perceived as a very corrupt sector.

The report: Education suggests corrupt and unethical practices in education include the embezzlement of national education funds in Kenya, the selling of fake diplomas in Niger, teacher absenteeism in Cameroon, or sexual harassment by male lecturers in Nigeria. The report also shows that if not addressed, corruption may even lead to the collapse of a country’s entire education system, and the waste of scarce public resources.

Taking bold steps to prevent the abuse of power, bribery and secret dealings from corroding the educational experience is particularly important not only to keep children in school but also to help them acquire the skills and knowledge that will enable them to contribute to their country’s development, the group argues.

Chantal Uwimana, Director of the Sub-Saharan Africa Department at Transparency International, said: “Most indicators from the United Nations and other institutions show that Africa is way behind other regions as far as education is concerned. We lack good educational structures and basic infrastructures, and there are not enough schools for the growing numbers of children. For those in school, corruption is learnt from a young age, and even accepted as a norm for them and society.

“Governments should account for the huge sums of money that are invested in the education sector and be serious about teaching children the value of honesty,” Uwimana added.
Implementing measures such as access to information on education policy, codes of conduct for educators, parent and student participation in governance, and clear systems of oversight and accountability on expenditures would ensure that resources end up where they should: building schools, paying teachers and buying textbooks.
In assessing the way forward, the Global Corruption Report: Education explores new approaches to halting corruption in education:

global trends in corruption in education, including in African countries
the scale of corruption in school education
transparency and integrity in higher education
innovative approaches to tackling corruption in education; and
the role of education in strengthening personal and professional integrity.

To prevent corruption from becoming commonplace, Transparency International calls on governments, international organisations, businesses and civil society in the region to strengthen governance at all levels of education.


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