WENR, June 2007: Russia/CIS
British Council Asked to Leave the Country
The Russian Foreign Ministry is asking the British Council to vacate its office at the British Consulate in Yekaterinburg, saying it is not entitled to diplomatic immunity. The request to the British Council comes amid frayed British-Russian relations, which hit a low point last month when Moscow refused to extradite to London a suspect in the murder of former security services officer Alexander Litvinenko. The British Council is the cultural arm of the British Embassy, and helps promote British education abroad. In December, the British Council stopped offering English language courses following a demand from the Foreign Ministry that the council’s language center obtain a license from the Education and Science Ministry.
June 15, 2007
Teachers to Get Pay Hike
Turkmenistan’s president has announced a salary hike for teachers as he pushes ahead with an overhaul of a deteriorated education system. Introducing a 40 percent pay rise for teachers and 40 percent increase in scholarships for students, effective from September, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said better pay would allow teaching staff to concentrate on their core work. Until now, low wages in Turkmen schools and universities have forced many teachers to find ways to supplement their incomes.
The salary rise comes as a boon to education reforms announced earlier in March, including a reduced workload for teachers, school class sizes capped at 25, schooling expanded from eight years to 10, and the abolition of a work experience requirement that had restricted access to higher education. Under former Turkmen President Saparmyrat Niyazov’s regime, in order to be accepted for a university program, secondary school graduates had to have at least two years work experience in the field they were planning to study – a requirement difficult to fulfill given the lack of employment opportunities in Central Asia’s most reclusive state.
April 4, 2007
Corruption Remains Rampant: UNESCO
Bribery and graft in schools and universities is seriously undermining education systems worldwide and costing governments billions of dollars, according to a new report funded by UNESCO.
The report, “Corrupt schools, corrupt universities: What can be done?”, by Unesco’s International Institute for Educational Planning into Ethics and Corruption, says that in some countries, leakage of education funding from ministries to schools can represent up to 80 percent, not counting salaries.
Bribes and payoffs in teacher recruitment and promotion tend to lower the quality of teachers, and illegal payments for school entrance and other hidden costs contribute to low enrollment and high drop-out rates, the report adds. Higher education corruption usually takes the form of fake universities, bogus degrees and accreditation fraud. The report found the number of fake universities on the Internet offering bogus degrees had risen from 200 to 800 in 2000-04.
And in Ukraine, top-ranking officials from private universities admitted in 2005 that most licensing or accreditation applications, obligatory for the country’s 175 private universities, required some form of bribery for success.
The report’s authors, education specialists Jacques Hallak and Muriel Poisson, recommend clear regulations, transparent procedures and explicit policies to help combat corruption. Leadership and political will at the highest government levels were essential to free education systems from corruption, they said, as well as greater accountability and ownership of the management process.
June 6, 2007