International Anti-Corruption Day

by ACT

  • Posted on December 14, 2018

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… Corrupt University Admissions Processes Affect the Prospects of Disadvantaged Youth

Sunday 9 December is the UN-designated International Anti-Corruption Day. It hopes to raise awareness of corruption found in both rich and poor countries worldwide.

Despite being a global issue, the UN has found that corruption hurts those living in poverty disproportionately.  Africa is continuously ranked by Transparency International as the most corrupt region in the world, with corruption impeding the delivery of basic services such as public education. This leads to millions of young people being deprived of their right to learn, and to have the chance of a decent future.

With the increase in secondary education in Africa, public universities are unable to cope with the ever-increasing applications from students. In some countries this situation has led to corruption involving university officials taking bribes from prospective students and favouring those who are well-connected and wealthy. Such practice puts poor, rural candidates at a disadvantage, as ACT-sponsored Alumni, Samson Kaponda from Malawi knows all too well.

Samson was born in Nyezerera, Phalombe District in the southern region of Malawi. He lost both his parents to HIV/AIDS when he was very young. He was brought up by an aunt who had her own family and was herself a widow. Samson did well at school and passed to go to secondary school, but her aunt could not afford to pay his school fees. Fortunately for Samson, a neighbour told his aunt about ACT and he was supported to go to secondary school.

Samson sat and passed the Malawi Secondary School Certificate Exams (MSCE) in 2011 with very good grades.  He hoped to embark on his dream of studying at the only public higher education institution in Malawi. Despite having the necessary grades, Samson found his application for a place rejected by the University. It soon became clear that his place had been given to another with lesser grades. Samson lived in a rural area and had no high-profile connections to help push his application through and ensured that he was not overlooked. This is the nature of the corruption that is taking place routinely in many parts of Africa today to the disadvantage of poor citizens.

Samson was left feeling dejected and incapable of achieving his dreams. His only option was to attend a private university costing four times the amount he would have had to pay at the state university. Where was this orphan child to find the funds to advance his education?

ACT launched an appeal and found a supporter willing to pay Samson’s university fees.  Samson therefore was able to embark on his dream of studying Environmental Science at Skyway University in Blantyre. He completed the three year BSc degree course in 2016 and now lives in Blantyre where he is employed. His life was transformed by the generosity of UK sponsors who funded his education up to university level.

Despite Samson’s success, many millions of young people, often already disadvantaged, are not so fortunate and find themselves routinely turned away from tertiary education. This must not be allowed to continue.

The number of students admitted to African universities will inevitably continue to increase over coming decades, putting more pressure on universities and perpetuating corruption within the admissions process.

To enable more children to obtain a university degree, ACT calls upon African governments to overhaul their tertiary education system to make corruption less common place, and give all young people – rich and poor alike – the chance of a bright and prosperous future.

We are also calling upon the continued support of our donors and supporters. We appreciate their invaluable help with giving young people like Samson the opportunity of an education, and the chance of a prosperous future.

If you would like to find out more about our work in Africa click here!

To sponsor a child or make a donation click here.

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