Issue: Corruption circle in the sphere of education. Ukraine and Visegrad countries review

“Corruption is not only a mechanism supporting the reproduction of social inequalities, but also a mechanism functioning as a “contagious disease”, with the tendency to spread” (Tanzi, 1998).

According to the “Corruption Perception Index 2019”, among 180 countries in the ranking, Ukraine achieved 126th place. In its turn, at the bottom of the tanking among the V4 countries Hungary appeared in 70th place, Slovakia in 59th place, Czech Republic obtained 44th place, and Poland achieved 41st position.

In May 2020, in the format of a webinar, the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative in Ukraine together with the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption presented the results of a survey, according to which 69% of citizens of Ukraine indicated corruption among the very serious problems; 44.2% faced corrupt practices. Based on surveys in Hungary, 57% of the population believe that corruption has increased in Hungary in the last three years. Young people in Hungary observe the extent of corruption in educational institutions must be reduced. in Slovakia, the new government is fighting against corruption with a strict regime, and even the smallest bribery is not tolerated and punished. But so far in Slovakia, only 47% of people once attended anti-bribery/anti-corruption training, which is below the global average. In Poland, researchers affirmed that due to the education of young people, problem of corruption should be eliminated.

We concluded that in Visegrad countries and in Ukraine corruption in the education sphere has similar issues (in Visegrad countries mostly private schools): certain groups pay extra to access ordinary schools, only teaching compulsory subjects in fee-paying tutorials, only passing students who have paid for extra lessons, hidden gifts, rigged examinations, other advantages.

Corruption in education includes making certain groups pay extra to access ordinary schools, only teaching compulsory subjects in fee-paying tutorials, only passing students who have paid for extra lessons, shadow schools, ghost teachers, rigged examinations.

The study was conducted according to the Methodology of the Standard Survey on the Level of Corruption. Three target audiences were interviewed by face-to-face / telephone interviews: population (2,516 interviews), business (1,093 interviews), and experts (98 interviews). The sample does not include territories that are temporarily not controlled by the authorities of Ukraine – the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The results of the survey led to the conclusion that corruption is the second most important problem in Ukraine.

Thus, 69% of citizens of Ukraine indicated corruption among the very serious problems of Ukraine. 72.7% of Ukrainians hold this opinion regarding military action in eastern Ukraine.

44.2% of Ukrainians have faced corrupt practices. Thus, the survey found that most citizens do not have a clear understanding of what practices should be considered corrupt and tolerate some of them. When the question was asked without specifying a specific area, 27% said that they or their relatives had faced corruption in the last year. When asked about individual cases of corruption (for example, extorting “charitable contributions” in hospitals), 44.2% of citizens confirmed that they had personally encountered such practices or members of their families.

Considering conducted research, it worth to pay attention to the fact that most Ukrainians face forced contributions in kindergartens and schools. This is based on conducted survey in 2020 among people who had contacts with the relevant public and private educational institutions, which showed the following statistic:

  • compulsory charitable contributions achieved a higher rate in amount of 55% in kindergartens and secondary schools;
  •  compulsory gifts to teachers, educators for assistance in studies achieved a higher rate in amount of 21.4% in secondary schools;
  • additional informal payments (personally to employees, educators or teachers for training, dormitory etc.) achieved a higher rate in amount of 19.8 % among people who attended courses and 18.2% in Higher educational institutions.

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What should be done to address this issue/problem?

We believe that ethics education for young people has the most powerful potential to break the cycle of corruption. Therefore, the educational system must educate prospective strong society providing in primary schools a comprehensive awareness about the transparency of justice and anti-corruption efforts of the State. In each country, people have a clear perception of what should be tolerated and what should not. Even though the system of rules and regulations in one of the given countries is weaker, we strive to promote awareness of transparency as a norm in society for the young people to increase consciousness of the rule of law and transparency in every State.  Corruption can only be eliminated if society adopts the highest ethical standards.

We are convinced that mutual efforts to strive to develop our youth society will bring significant results in the future, strengthening their incentive to the prosperity of the smart citizens that stand against bribes.