Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) carried out a survey on Forms and Extent of Corruption in Education in Sri Lanka.
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Corruption rampant in the education sector : Transparency International Sri Lanka reveals
• “How do principals in popular schools maintain private vehicles and live in luxury houses? We all get the same salary,” a principal from a school in a difficult area asks.
• “Although I gave Rs 80,000 to a go-between to get my daughter admitted to a well-known popular school in the area, it didn’t work out. Now the go-between is repaying the money to me in small installments,” laments a parent in the central hills.
• “Students are given study leave for three months before they sit the A level examinations. What do the teachers do? Very often they conduct tuition classes. Many teachers do so in the afternoons for the same students who attend their classes in the morning. This is a gross violation of ethics and it is also a form of corruption,” a civil society organisation points out at a group discussion.
• “People from developed districts rent houses in Siyambalanduwa and Moneragala on the pretext they live there and send the children to schools there. Actually they send them to schools in Kandy, Matara and Colombo. Finally they sit the exams in Moneragala district…The teachers and principals in some of the less developed schools try to show the Ministry that they have the required number of students and good results at O level and A levels examinations. They are given various gifts and rewards by the parents of those children. This is corruption,” a community leader explains the malpractices related to the district quota system to gain admission to the university.
• “Teacher and other Ministry transfers are not properly done. There are many malpractices. Politicians directly promote third-grade teachers as additional directors,” an additional director of education admits.
These are a few comments picked from the Report on Corruption in Education in Sri Lanka just released by Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) after an in -depth study conducted in several pats of the country. The forms and extent of corruption in the education sector has been dealt with in detail in the study conducted by a team headed by Professor Amarasiri de Silva of the Peradeniya University.
The topics covered in the study include school admissions, teacher appointments, transfers and promotions, activities of school development societies (SDS), fees and payments, tuition classes and abuse of the district quota system. A representative sample of parents, teachers and education officials have been interviewed during the study.
The consensus among those interviewed was that the government school system had declined when compared to what it was several decades ago. This was attributed to politicization of the education system including appointments and transfers and a shift in the view that teaching was a vocation, making this profession less prestigious. They viewed school admissions as being highly corrupt. The allegations included bribing principals; having to seek favours from politicians and education directors; roping in intermediaries at a high cost; nepotism and mandatory ‘donations’ to schools or SDSs.
The study found that all children did not get a level playing field with regard to education. The status of the parents and their level of education played an important role in securing better educational opportunities for children, compromising the principle of equality in education. There was a firm belief among those interviewed that the richer the household, the better the chance of the child performing well.
Referring to politicisation, it was pointed out that many posts for acting principals and subject directors were filled with political appointees, even though some of them were not qualified. There was much dissatisfaction among both teachers and officers with regard to salary increments and loans, with claims that the system was highly politicized. Every study location reported delays in increments, with many teachers and officers stating that bribes had to be offered or political influence sought to expedite increments.
As for the misuse of power by principals and officials, it was revealed that in the absence of regulations on the recruitment of volunteer teachers, principals were appointing them at school-level without following a transparent procedure.