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Education and

Anti-corruption and Strong Institutions

Key message

Education and corruption are fundamentally connected.


Societies with higher levels of education have less corruption, and those with higher levels of corruption realise lower levels of learning. The consequences of corruption extend beyond financial loss for systems of education; they affect access to education, and its quality and equity, with particular impact on the most marginalised. If corruption in education is not addressed, it will be a significant barrier to the provision of quality education for every child.
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Key challenges
  • Corruption in the procurement process contributes to high costs and substandard learning materials In the Philippines, the cost of textbooks was 61% higher as a result of losses during distribution, 40% higher as a result of corruption in bidding, and 5% higher as a result of replacing poor-quality textbooks
    (Reyes, 2009)
  • Systemic corruption impedes gains in learning outcomes Countries with higher rates of corruption were less likely to raise learning outcomes effectively, even when provided with additional school resources and funds
    Rajkumar & Swaroop, 2008  Suryadarma, 2012
  • Corruption in education is significant and widespread. In the EU, the education sector experienced more corruption than the construction sector between 2009 and 2014.
    (GEM, 2017)
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Make the case
  • Education deters corruption. The lack of a primary education was one of the strongest predictors of corruption in a study across 123 countries.
    (Jetter & Parmeter, 2018).
  • Higher student achievement leads to less corruption. Countries with higher maths and reading scores had less corruption than those with lower scores.
    (Education Commission, 2016).
  • Historically, higher levels of education contribute to less corrupt societies. Countries that had achieved mass education by 1870 had less corruption in 2010. (World Bank, 2018)
    (World Bank, 2018)
  • Eliminating corruption can increase school enrolment, furthering efforts to provide education for all. In Bogota, school enrolment was raised by 37% through savings gained by cleaning falsified or unreliable data on teacher lists, salaries, and medical insurance and pension funds
    (Hallak & Poisson, 2007)
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Key talking points
  • Education and corruption are strongly linked.
  • Corruption can take away scarce resources from education systems.
  • Yet education is a key factor in deterring corruption. Historically, higher levels of education are associated with lower levels of corruption.
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