Bangladesh corruption now reality TV for education minister

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 17, 2012 5:46 AM
Bangladesh corruption now reality TV for education minister

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh aims to get the full picture on corruption in the education ministry by installing closed-circuit television cameras in its key offices in the capital to catch bureaucrats taking bribes for services.

"The officers have to change their mindset and work as servants of the taxpayers," Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said at a CCTV installation ceremony last week in the capital of Dhaka.

"A bad image has developed as people face harassment by some officials and employees (seeking bribes) to get work done."

Bangladesh's education system is plagued by teachers paying bribes to snag key posts, violent campus political rallies that have killed four students since January this year, and poorly-paid bureaucrats with scant incentive to help taxpayers.

Public anger over inefficiency in the education ministry has boiled over with even insiders saying requests for bribes had gone viral in a country Transparency International ranked in the lower tiers of its 2011 corruption index.

"Corruption is widespread in the education sector," said an education ministry official, requesting anonymity. "The quality of education is falling though the percentage of students passing (exams) has increased."

Nahid said there is an element of hearts and minds to the CCTV monitoring, acknowledging it as only a step to motivate bureaucrats to honesty.

"A machine cannot stop corruption if the man behind (it) is dishonest," Nahid said.

(Reporting by Anis Ahmed; Editing by Ed Lane)