Corruption in education: Where does your country stand?

12 November 2020


Corruption in education

"In the past 12 months, have you paid a bribe to the education services in your country?” These are the types of questions that are increasingly being asked in international or regional surveys designed to estimate the level of state corruption. IIEP-UNESCO now offers a new interactive map to access data on corruption in education for 165 countries.

Easy and free access to data

Corruption in education remains a sensitive issue, one which quantitative data is often partial and disparate. However, "over the past decade or so, global opinion surveys on corruption have increasingly included questions specific to education," says Muriel Poisson, head of IIEP's research and training activities on ethics and corruption. The new interactive map provides free access to these specific data with just a few clicks, covering nearly 85% of UN Member States.  

Corruption in education: what surveys have been carried out?

IIEP's interactive map is based on a compilation of eight large-scale regional and international household surveys, including: 

  • The Afrobarometer
  • The Arab Barometer
  • The East African Bribery Index (EABI)
  • The Global Corruption Barometer (GCB)
  • The International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS)
  • Life in Transition Survey (LiTS)
  • The Eurobarometer
  • The European Quality of Government Index (EQI)

All these surveys are based on open data, which is therefore accessible to all on the web. 


Comparing results between countries and over time 

Most of the surveys used to feed the interactive map are carried out at regular intervals, allowing the evolution of the data to be monitored over time. Some references are indeed very recent, while others date back to the 2000s. While some of the countries on the map refer to only one study, the majority have been the subject of several surveys - thus making it possible to explore different dimensions of the problem of corruption in education.

Three Questions on Corruption in Education

Among the dozens of questions referenced by IIEP in the selected surveys, some deal with illicit payments; others with ethical issues or teacher behavior. Here are three illustrations from three separate studies:

  • In the past 12 months have you had contact with a public school? How often did you have to pay a bribe, give a gift, or do a favour for a teacher or school official in order to get the services you needed from the schools? (Global Corruption Barometer 2019)
  • In (your country), do you think that the giving and taking of bribes and the abuse of power for personal gain are widespread within the education system? (Eurobarometer 2017)
  • In your opinion, to what extent do you think it is necessary to pay an unofficial fee to a civil servant to receive better education services? (Arab Barometer 2018-2019 - 5th edition)


By exploring the tool and its associated resources, we learn, for example, that 34.66% of Ukrainians surveyed in 2016 in the European Quality of Government Index (EQI) said that they or a member of their household had paid a bribe or given a gift to an education official in their country in the last 12 months, compared to 21.76% of Azeris or 17.30% of Romanians.

"Most of the questions focus on the perception of corruption. These data do not explain everything, but they do give trends on the extent of the phenomenon in each country and its evolution over time. When the results are bad, it is a warning signal, a sign of mistrust towards the education system.”
Muriel Poisson, Researcher at IIEP-UNESCO

Hosted on ETICO – IIEP's platform dedicated to ethics and corruption in education – this interactive map will be enriched and updated over time with new open data. Another interactive map dedicated to teacher codes of conduct is also available, following the same mapping principle. 

Accessible to all, these online tools are intended in particular for managers, planners in ministries of education, and policy-makers. They are also aimed at international organizations and NGOs in the sector, as well as researchers and students interested in the issue of corruption in education.