South Africa: schools revealed as hotbed of corruption

10 Mar 16

South Africa’s schools were a public sector corruption hotspot in 2015, according to a national corruption watchdog.


South African children in class

South African children in class


In its annual report, South Africa’s Corruption Watch said 16% of the corruption reports it received related to activities in schools, the highest of any sector. Financial mismanagement accounted for more than a third (37%) of those complaints.

The lack of training of school governing bodies and poor understanding of their roles and responsibilities were cited as reasons why corruption is so rife in schools, but school principals were also as culprits.

Corruption Watch conducted 10 investigations into allegations of corruption in schools over 2015. In nine out of ten of those, principals were the primary perpetrator, abusing school funds for their own personal gain.

After financial mismanagement, the most common complaints were to do with theft of funds, tender corruption, employment corruption and theft of goods, which included food provided as part of government schemes.

Overall, state- or municipal-owned entities, unions and other public institutions, including schools, were the biggest source of corrupt activities, accounting for 34% of all complaints, followed by provincial government (26%), national government (24%) and local government (16%).

Of all complaints, abuse of power was the most common kind at 38%. This was followed by bribery (20%), procurement corruption (14%) and employment corruption (8%), however 20% of complaints fell in to the ‘other’ category.

After schools, corruption was found to most commonly occur in traffic and licensing, immigration, housing and healthcare.

Over the last 12 months 7% of public service users in South Africa have had to pay a bribe, compared to an African average of 22%.

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