Ethics and Education – an important partnership

ETICO is a resource platform on ethics and corruption in education supported by UNESCO.

This is a timely initiative as we see reduced spending on education in a number of countries , yet more demands from the systems themselves, for more classrooms, more and better teaching and learning resources, improved and increased teacher professional development etc  so we cannot afford ‘loss’ through corruption. It is also important to show young people that ethics and education are intimately related.

Lack of integrity and unethical behaviour within the education sector are inconsistent with one of the main purposes of education: to produce ‘good citizens’ respectful of the law, human rights, and fairness. It is also incompatible with any strategy that considers
education as one of the principal means of fighting corruption.

Th e Drafting Committee of the World Education Forum has expressed
this concern in the following terms: ‘Corruption is a major drain on
the effective use of resources for education and should be drastically
curbed’.(UNESCO. 2000. Dakar Framework for Action. Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments. Adopted by  the World Education Forum, Dakar, Senegal, 26–28 April 2000. Extended commentary on the Dakar Action Plan (para. 46).

Some topics and resources included on the website:

Building capacities

In addition to knowledge production and management, ETICO also provides guidance and country level support on corruption issues in education by offering access to relevant instruments, standards, and services that bolster country capacities, including:


Plans for the improvement of the quality of education often focus on quantitative data like number of teachers by age/grade/status/level of qualifications and pupils/teacher ratios, rather than on ‘intangible inputs’. These ‘intangible inputs’, such as transparent systems for collecting and disseminating information, and professional and ethical commitments of teachers and staff, are however crucial to the delivery of quality education.

J. Hallak and M. Poisson

The above quote refers to the development of Teacher codes of conduct.

Research has shown that teacher codes can be an effective instrument for promoting ethics in education. However, their implementation sometimes proves difficult due to – among other variables – limited access, unclear content, and inadequate teacher training, as shown in IIEP’s research in South Asia.


Planning and management

Corruption may be found in all areas of educational planning and management – school financing, recruitment, promotion and appointment of teachers, building of schools, supply and distribution of equipment and textbooks, admission to universities, and so on.

Areas of potential corruption:

Finance and allocation of specific allowances e.g.  Leakage of funds,Collection of illegal fees;

Teacher management and behaviour e.g. Ghost teachers,Fraud in the appointment and deployment of staff , Private tutoring;

Examinations and diplomas  e.g. Examination fraud

Institution accreditation  e.g. Fraud in the accreditation proces

Information systems e.g. Manipulating data, Irregularity in producing and publishing information

Source: adapted from Hallak and Poisson, 2007.

As shown above, within each of the planning/management areas corrupt practices can take many forms, including embezzlement, bypassing of criteria, and favouritism. Manipulation of information and statistical data are among the concerns that cut across all of these areas.

Our children deserve better than learning these tricks first hand from their ‘carers’ and those responsible for their education.

In order to reduce such practices, particular attention must be paid to integrating anti-corruption issues into education planning, with an in-depth examination of risk analysis, definition of clear norms and standards, setting up of transparent procedures, development of management capacities, better access to information, etc.

New publication on achieving transparency in pro-poor education incentives:

Ensuring children in the poorest communities aren’t robbed of their basic right to a good quality education.





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