Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

International Aid - Education Corruption Costs Billions Globally: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

International Aid - Education Corruption Costs Billions Globally: News

Article excerpt

Embezzlement of aid puts universal primary schooling at risk.

Billions of dollars are being lost every year to endemic corruption in school systems around the world, with widespread evidence of bribery and embezzlement of international aid, a major report will claim next week.

The extent of the corruption is a "formidable obstacle" to the United Nations' mission to ensure that all children receive free primary education by 2015, the study will say.

The news comes in the same week as the UN General Assembly met to discuss progress on the Millennium Development Goals, of which universal primary education is one.

The research, seen exclusively by TES, will be published by anti- corruption agency Transparency International (TI) with the aim of exposing the extent of criminal financial activity affecting schools and universities, especially in the developing world.

According to TI, Pakistan has approximately 8,000 "ghost schools", which exist on paper but provide no services, despite teachers and administrators being on the payroll.

Bribery - including paying illegal fees for school places or better grades - is also commonplace, the report claims, as is the embezzlement of cash intended for new school buildings and teaching resources such as textbooks and technology.

This is putting the goal of free primary education by 2015 at serious risk of being derailed, with approximately 57 million children still out of school, according to the report.

"Over a decade after the adoption of the (Millennium Development Goals), corruption has been identified as a key impediment responsible for the fact that there has been insufficient progress towards achieving education for all," it says.

Gareth Sweeney, chief editor of the Global Corruption Report: education, said that the vast amounts of money involved and the absence of robust accountability systems meant it was easy for corrupt officials to siphon off money.

"The education sector in many countries constitutes more than a fifth of total government public sector expenditure," Mr Sweeney told TES. "These huge sums of money are disbursed through complex administrative layers - from central governments to schools - and are inadequately monitored.

"In addition, the importance placed on education puts those who provide education services in a strong position to extort favours and they are driven to do so when corruption higher up leaves them undervalued or unpaid."

Between the setting of the UN goals in 2000 and 2009, about $5. …

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