Corruption is a breach of the Right to Education – common sense, or is it?!

By Mona Niemeyer

On 1 October 2013, Transparency International published the Global Corruption Report on Education which illustrates an important dialogue on the issue of education between the human rights movement and anti-corruption activists. From a human rights perspective it is interesting to see how strong of a contravening force to the realization of the Right to Education corruption really is. Following Transparency International’s definition of corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain” corruption in education does not end with bribery but also encompasses sexual violence, for example.

Particularly interesting is the first Chapter which, besides outlining international standards and enforcement mechanisms for the Right to Education, examines the usefulness and difficulties of conceiving corruption in education as a human rights matter.  In this sense, because corruption has a negative effect on the realization of human rights anti-corruption measures taken by the state can be understood as part of the state’s duty to respect, protect and fulfill. This is increasingly recognized as the issue of corruption in general, not specifically in education, has featured more and more prominently in the human rights world. For example at the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). On the other hand, the report argues that the new individual complaint mechanisms of the CRC and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) would not be the most pragmatic human rights mechanisms for anti-corruption activists.  But the message is clear: The author encourages anti-corruption experts to a greater use of human rights instruments in order to strengthen the dialogue between the movements whose goals are, in many aspects, overlapping.

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Consisting of 5 chapters the comprehensive report starts by giving an overview of the Right to Education and how to link it to the specific issue of corruption in education. The second and third chapters discuss corruption in schools and higher education by drawing on examples and best practices. Chapter four follows outlining successful approaches to tackle corruption in education including the SERAP v Nigeria Case. The final chapter is dedicated to demonstrate the centrality of education for the human rights as well as the anti-corruption movement.

The Global Corruption Report on Education is an important contribution to the realization of the Right to Education by bringing the issue of corruption to the attention of human rights supporters and opening up spaces for engagement of the anti-corruption movement with the human rights world. As it is education that teaches us our values the realization of the Right to Education will strengthen the integrity of a person and support the fulfillment of all human rights. Therefore, this dialogue should be intensified and serve as an example for other issues where activists with different focal points seek to achieve a common goal.



One response to “Corruption is a breach of the Right to Education – common sense, or is it?!

  1. Pingback: The handbook on realizing the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation | Lifting our voices - claiming our rights·

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