Global education:
A selection of key charts and trends

Part 5 of 7

Corruption and accountability challenges in education systems

Corruption is an important problem all over the world.

This map shows the share of people who report having paid bribes in the last year to access public services.

This chart shows the share of people who report having paid bribes in the last year to access education services specifically.

As this chart shows, in education systems all around the world, corruption is a reality.

(Note: You can add or remove countries from this chart using the option "Add country")

This chart compares years of schooling and corruption perception (low values imply higher perceived corruption).

It shows that corruption tends to be higher in countries where education levels are low.

This is only a correlation. However, some studies have found evidence suggesting that education leads to lower corruption.

This is consistent with the idea that voters with more education tend to be more willing and able to monitor public employees and to take action when these employees violate the law. You can read more about the evidence here.

Corruption in education systems may take different forms.

For example, in Uganda, about 20 percent of total public expenditure was on education in the mid-1990s, most of it on primary education.

...however, evidence shows that in this period schools received only a fraction of intended capitation grants.

As this chart shows, across regions, the bulk of the school grants either disappeared for private gain or were used for purposes unrelated to education. (For more details see Reinikka and Svensson 2004).

'Lost' resources can have important consequences, particularly if we consider that many schools face precarious conditions.

One of the most widely accepted mechanisms for controling corruption is to ensure that those entrusted with power are held responsible for reporting their activities. This is the idea behind accountability.

This chart shows the correlation between corruption and accountability in a broad sense.

Here, corruption is measured as the share of people who admit having paid bribes in the past 12 months (for any service), and accountability is measured by the Accountability Transparency Index.

What does accountability look like in education delivery?

Among other things, accountability requires regulations for complying with financial management and transparency rules, clear mandates for measuring and analysing student performance, and simplifying and explaining results of student assessments to the public.

The Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) created an index to measure policies aimed at improving school autonomy and accountability.

This chart shows the SABER rating for countries with available data.

Summary of Impacts on Time in School of Governance Interventions - Glewwe and Muralidharan (2016)

Accountability is a complex concept that can take different forms in different contexts. This poses challenges for designing effective policies.

The following table shows a summary of impacts on test scores of governance interventions.

For details on specific interventions, you can check section 4.4 in Glewwe and Muralidharan (2016)

The key takeaway here is that the evidence is mixed: there is no one-size-fits-all recipie.

Impact of camera-mediated incentives aimed at monitoring teacher attendance - JPAL (2008)

These charts show the results from an experiment in India, where teachers in the 'treatment group' received a camera with a tamperproof time stamp, and were instructed to take a picture with students at the beginning and end of each school day. Teachers were then paid for the number of days that they attended as recorded by the cameras.

This shows that accountability pressures through teacher monitoring and evaluation can improve teacher motivation and student outcomes. But the intervention, although effective, is not realistically scalable in most contexts.

As this quote from Glewwe and Muralidharan (2016) shows, the evidence suggests nuanced policy recommendations.

Other resources from Our World in Data

8 of 12