Of corruption in the education sector

Of corruption in the education sector


Masum Billah

Corruption prevails in every strata of the society. It has engulfed every aspect of government,  non-government office and institution. But the corruption in education proves seriously sensitive as corruption in this sector directly affects all the machineries of the state because the manpower of the state is produced by this sector.

So, the corruption in this sector must be minimised at any cost.  Transparency International the global watchdog against graft has shown the corruption

in education of Bangladesh a declining index. Our education minister deserves a thank for this.

But we cannot afford to be self-complacent as corruption still remains a ‘serious hurdle’ to ensuring quality education in the country. Here twelve percent people pay bribe in education against seventeen percent globally.

The TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said education is highly vulnerable to corruption as the country lost over Tk700 million in the form of petty corruption

in primary education in one year. He continued ‘Yes, the level of corruption in education sector has slightly reduced comparatively. But there is no scope of complacency as it still remains a key obstacle to quality education.’ The TI  report was released based on the feedback of 114,270 respondents from 107 countries. The Bangladesh part was based on 1800 respondents.

In 2007 39 percent of people used to pay bribes for availing education, it was 15 percent in 2010 and 14.8 percent in 2012. This year Bangladesh has stood at the third position in South Asia showing corruption index twelve percent in educational field. It is 3 percent in Nepal and Maldives, while the level of corruption in education in India is much higher as 48 percent, Pakistan which 16 and Sri Lanka 13 percent. This picture really makes us happy but we will have to go along way still.

Our education sector gets 2.1 per cent of the total budget for education against the internal benchmark 6 percent. The government and all concerned have a huge scope to look into this area as to see the downgrade index of corruption depends on it.

The implementation of anti-corruption basics 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 across the education spectrum would ensure that every taka ends up where it  should. Almost one in five people worldwide paid bribes to education services last year,  according to Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer. In the world’s  poorest countries the number rises to one in three.

It also shows that in all cases corruption in education acts as a dangerous barrier to high-quality learning and social and economic development. It jeopardises the academic benefits of universities and may even lead to the reputational collapse of a country’s entire higher education system.

We have a serious concern for our public universities as corruption of the student leaders, academic backwardness due to campus politics and teachers’ direct involvement in politics may upset the whole picture positioning our education secotr after India or Pakistan.

Iftekharuzzaman has rightly said. “We need to be more careful in eliminating  corruption from the key sector as unethical practice could lead to emergence of incompetent future leaders and professionals.” If we fail to bring back the sound atmosphere in our public universities, we will not be able to make future leaders. At any cost we must stop the games our universities are playing.

We can easily banish corruption from education sector if we allow this sector to follow its own course and to be guided by real educationists not the so-called political educationists. We must stop the interference of the MPs in the academic affairs of the schools and colleges. Student politics under party banner must be tightly reined in.

Any government which will be successful in this regard will be able to give a sound and healthy picture in the education sector. Corruption in the Directorate General,  of Education, student leaders’ admission business in the university colleges  and universities are the vibrant areas of corruption. If the government tightly reins and deals with these areas, definitely corruption will disappear from this sector and we will emerge as a corruption free country at least in the education sector.

And it is true if education sector becomes corruption free, other fields will be very much transparent.  TIB Trustee Syed Monzoorul Islam hailed the achievement of Bangladesh,  saying that the country needs to keep the trend going to root out corruption in education sector.

“Corruption in education system cannot be accepted at all as it gives the perception among the future leaders or young citizens that corruption is socially recognised here. “For schools to educate the corruption fighters of tomorrow they need to be free from corruption themselves.

Without a strong dose of integrity, our schools and universities will fail to provide future leaders with the basic tools needed to succeed, and more importantly, to combat graft,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International. “With nearly a fifth of the world’s population between 15 and 24 years old, young people have the potential to stop corruption both as the citizens of today and as the leaders of tomorrow.”

(Program Manager, BRAC Education Programmme, Masum Billah  is the Vice-President, Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association( BELTA)n and can be contacted at masumbillah65@gmail.com)

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