For long, CCS has argued most corruption in public affairs is an outcome of poorly designed rules and regulations, or rules which should have not been there in the first place. Education World, the only magazine on education in India takes a hard look at corruption in education here and presents an opinion similar to the one we stated.

There are two kinds of corruption in education: financial and regulatory (based on outcomes)

Financial corruption results in the following:

1. De riguer kickbacks in government school construction contracts. Government schools are shabby, uninviting and lack even basic facilities such as drinking water and toilets because favoured contractors have to pay massive kickbacks to politicians and educrats

2. Negligible investment in infrastructure. With teachers salaries reportedly consuming 85-90 percent of meagre outlays for education, there is little left for investment in libraries, labs, drinking water, toilets etc

3. Denial of information: opaque education budgets. There’s a shroud of secrecy over how education budgets are devised and deployed. However the bottomline is that the per capita education outlay of the Central and state governments combined is a mere Rs.2,940 per year or Rs.245 ($ 5.45) per month — embarrassingly inadequate (I am in disagreement with this fact! The calculations probably don’t account for a lot of factors)
Regulatory corruption results in the following:

1. Pernicious license-permit-quota raj regime. Despite India’s rapidly expanding middle class shunning patently dysfunctional, chaotic government schools, a slew of licences, permits, no-objection certificates and quota stipulations govern the promotion of financially independent private schools

2. Unchecked textbooks publishing, printing and distribution rackets. By imposing vernacular languages as the medium of instruction in state government schools, floodgates have been opened for unqualified and crooked authors, printers and publishers to access captive markets

3. Teacher appointment rackets. With pay scales in government schools higher than in private institutions, auctioning of teachers’ posts by politicians and educrats is rife in all states of the Indian Union

4. Teacher transfer and salary payment rackets. Government school teachers often have to pay bribes to avoid transfers to hardship postings as also to receive pay cheques in time

5. Pervasive inspection raj. Even financially independent private education institutions are subject to myriad health, hygiene and operational rules and regulations offering government inspectors numerous opportunities for shakedowns

9. Exam paper leakages and corruption rackets. Against the backdrop of acute capacity shortages in higher education, school-leaving and entrance exam papers are routinely purchased and sold by proliferating education mafias

10. College entry and admission rackets endanger student idealism. With admission into the much-too-few institutions of higher education governed by complex rules, regulations, quotas and consequential rackets, students become indifferent to corruption

11. The grand merit hoax and coaching classes boom. Though entry into highly subsidised institutions of tertiary education is supposedly on merit, the overwhelming majority of successful entrants into the too-few prized institutions such as the IITs and IIMs are from middle and upper class households which can afford entrance exam preparation provided by ubiquitous and expensive private sector coaching schools

12. Obsolete syllabuses and sub-standard teaching in higher education. Secured tenure and faculty unaccountability in institutions of higher education rigidly controlled by out-of-date educrats, have rendered syllabuses and curriculums obsolete

13. Pervasive teacher indifference and absenteeism. On any given day 25 percent (i.e 1 million) teachers in government education institutions are absent

These corrupt practices information are courtesy the Education World.

My argument is this: while efforts to remove financial corruption are well intentioned, a look at the financial corruption and the regulatory corruption outcomes will enable us to understand that most corruption arises from regulatory causes. When you have only one agency in a non-competitive market, obviously all rules will be flouted with gay abandon. It is only incidental that the government is the sole agency in an undeveloped education market. And you don’t need to know economics to understand that in such a system, jiski lathi uski bhains!


Post Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.

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Naveen Mandava

Naveen is Co-Founder at XamCheck, an organization that partners with schools, supporting them in processes they follow, with learning materials and processes that are all crafted to work together as an interconnected system to drive learning. He is a Doctoral Fellow from RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, United States of America. He has worked extensively on assessment based decision support for governments, non-profit organizations and schools chains in India and the USA for over 10 years. He has been a Lead Consultant with the World Bank’s Innovations for Poverty Action Consortium, a Policy Analyst with RAND Corporation and a Research Manager at Centre for Civil Society.