Corruption in the Education Sector


Entrenched corruption in Vietnamese education sector threatens to the impressive improvements achieved over the past five decades.

Despite the Government’s recognition of the seriousness of corruption in education and the introduction of a number of directives, decrees and campaigns to eradicate it, corruption in the education sector continues to lack the appropriate level of attention and is often regarded as a social phenomenon rather than being recognised as a genuine form of corruption.

More appropriate analysis on the nature of corruption in education is clearly needed.

Forms, causes and effects of corruption in education

Towards Transparency (TT) has worked with independent researchers from the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) to provide an overview of the forms, causes and impact of corruption in education sector in Vietnam.

The report drew on in-depth interviews with a number of teachers, parents and school administrators in Hanoi and its suburbs; and research from surveys and press reports.

Main forms of corruption in education sector

According to public opinion, the main forms of corruption in the Vietnamese education sector include:

  • Corruption in the building of schools and classrooms, the provision of teaching supplies and printing of school books
  • Payment of bribes by school and teachers in exchange for awards and titles recognising false achievements and credentials
  • Collection of financial allowances by principals for untaught classes
  • Payment of bribes by teachers to school officials for allocations to teach ‘desired classes’
  • Payment of bribes by students and parents to obtain good marks and enrollment in desired schools and classes
  • Effective coercion of student and parents to pay for extra classes by discriminating against students who do not
  • Misappropriation of money intended for students
  • Collection of additional unauthorised money from students and parents.


Causes of corruption in the education sector

  • Weak institutional accountability associated with an ‘asking-giving’ culture and poor management by regulatory agencies
  • Insufficient legal system stifled by loopholes and contradictions
  • Lack of whistleblowing culture in denouncing corruption in the education sector
  • Poor pay for teachers
  • Limited public participation in the monitoring, supervision and management of schools
  • Lack of transparency in the allocation and utilisation of resources.


Effects of corruption

  • Rising costs and inequality: Corruption in education threatens to increase educational costs for households, which inevitably increases the dropout risk among families that cannot afford these extra costs. Corruption, thus, directly increases inequality in access to educational services.
  • Decrease in quality: Corruption not only threatens fairness in education, it also appears to impact on the commitment of teachers and the earnestness of children. As a result it creates a poor atmosphere of study and work that de-motivates various players and discredits the entire system.
  • Erosion of ethical norms: Corruption contributes to the downgrading of teachers and pupils’ ethical values by effective pushing those who attempt to act with integrity.


Further reading on corruption in education sector

  1. Transparency International, Global Corruption report: Education, Berlin, 2012
  2. Towards Transparency, Case Study on Bribes for enrolment in desired schools in Vietnam, Hanoi, 2012
  3. Transparency International, Towards Transparency, Forms and effects of corruption on the education sector in Vietnam, 2011
  4. Transparency International, Corruption in Education Sector, Berlin, 2009