A new report sounds alarm about widespread and persistent bribery and corruption in the education sector, despite numerous policies and legislation aimed at ensuring unhindered access to decent education.

Report of a Corruption Watch under the title “Be alarmed” exposed corruption in some educational institutions of the country.

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The report collected complaints from more than 3,600 pupils, students, parents and carers between 2012 and 2021, representing 10% of the total.

“Wide appropriation of resources”

According to Corruption Watch, this indicates widespread misappropriation of resources, acts of bribery, sexual extortion, abuse of power, and flagrant violations of hiring and procurement processes.

Corruption Watch reports that for more than a decade it has received disturbing reports of alleged corruption in basic and tertiary institutions across the country.

The report specifically looks at how corruption has affected mainly primary and secondary schools, SETAs and technical, vocational, education and training colleges.

He draws a link between acts of corruption in these institutions, exposing the struggle to provide education from primary to higher education.

Melusi Nkala, senior researcher at Corruption Watch and author of the report, says people are adamant about complaints in the education sector.

“What is particularly striking about these appalling reports is the willingness of ordinary people, be they parents, guardians, pupils, students, workers or professionals, to speak out against brazen acts of corruption.”

Gauteng at the forefront of corruption

“Equally notable is the continued failure of government and law enforcement agencies to act against teachers, principals, administrators, unions and board members involved in corrupt activities, usually motivated by personal greed,” he adds.

The report also shows how Gauteng leads in corruption, while KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape are not far behind.

Corruption Watch reports that abuses of power are ongoing.

“Worryingly, cases of bribery and extortion are also rife, including allegations of extortion for sexual services, as well as employment violations.”

“The picture changes slightly in SETA as procurement irregularities rank first followed by mismanagement and misappropriation of resources.

“Once again, people in positions of power are demanding bribes, neglecting the hiring process and disrupting the smooth roll-out of training programs and leadership,” the report found.

Nkala says that if the education is vocational, it would be reasonable to expect those responsible for running these institutions to be more mindful of the duty of care.

The authorities are apathetic to corruption

“The authorities in this sector are just paying lip service to bribery – and if there is one thing to be gleaned from their rhetoric, it is their apathy and refusal to take responsibility.

“Their refusal to take decisive action demands decisive and decisive action from us the people.”

Lack of resources is a frequent excuse for not providing adequate education, and yet, he says, “when the limited resources that exist are misused to the extent that we are seeing, something urgently needs to be done to hold those responsible accountable, and address the issues that prevent people from getting the education they deserve.”

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