Bribery in Education

by Shushanik Karapetyan

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Confucius

Life is full of problems. Everything about it has its own issues that need to be dealt with. Health, education, social assistance, democracy, freedom of expression are only some of the very few elements of our lives that, if not perfected, could cause a myriad of problems for many generations. Perhaps, if we were to choose, education could constitute the backbone of the above listed elements. Without a well-established, modernized educational system, countries are doomed to failure and Armenia is no different. Today, Armenia’s biggest problem with the education system is BRIBERY. It is a known fact; everybody is well aware of it.

Different people understand bribery in different ways.  To me bribery is a kind of attitude that changes the outlook on teaching and the relations between teachers and students, when “favoring” overcomes the actual process of teaching and learning. A great number of teachers/ professors nowadays accept “gifts” to give a passing grade to their students. It is also common to offer gifts when applying for a university or any other higher education establishment. In Armenia, a common phrase used for bribing is “lavoutyoun (an act of kindness) or “magharic” (a tip).

And while there are still a few students remaining who are able to enter the universities or pass exams because of their previous education and knowledge, a greater number of students are getting their marks or being accepted to the university based on “Խ – խնամի, Ծ – ծանոթ, Բ – բարեկամ” formula, i.e. with the help of parents-in-law, friends, and relatives.

Becoming a university graduate at times may carry no value, especially given that the majority of the students are female, and it is a good opportunity for the socially ambitious parents to make sure their daughters have diplomas and, hence, find a more “suitable” son-in-law. It is highly disturbing and makes one ask the following questions. What about the future of the education and the future of these young people who too one day will become parents? How are they going to bring up their children? How are they going to help them in their school subjects? Are they going to take the same path their parents did?

There are other expenses involved too. Uniforms, textbooks, and other school supplies also require certain spending. Unfortunately, there is no concept of a uniform dress code at public schools in Armenia. As a result pupils compete among each other and in many cases teachers often encourage such competition, as they tend to favor better-dressed students. And while parents might not like the state of the affairs, everyone continues to comply with the system, notwithstanding the fact that not all families can afford much of these expenses given their financial situations. At the end, sacrifices are made for the sake of the children and their participation at occasions such as prom and other events organized by the school administration, but financed by parents of students.

It is unfortunate that such teachers exist, and that school administrations remain reluctant, if not also beneficiaries, of such cases. These people should not be teaching kids at school. If the goal is good education, then much would need to be done to tackle this problem and deal with it permanently.

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