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Institutional Corruption: Who is Truly Accountable?

As time passes, many institutions have formed. For a formal definition, an institution is any building referred to with having a sort of organization and a certain purpose on which it is established. The purpose can essentially be anything: religious, social, or even education. But the reason behind the building alone cannot be sufficient; it is the hierarchy in the institution that matters the most. But what happens when the hierarchy is not performing its duties honestly?

As mentioned, a hierarchal structure is important for operating and providing any service, and therefore a problem in structure results in the fall of the building, per se. Now, it is not necessary that the issue be deliberate; it can also occur by co-incidence. However, how many coincidences does it take to gauge it as dishonesty, or corruption?

Corruption may seem like a strong word at first, nevertheless, it is present in most areas. It is also a broad term applicable to a lot of things, however in this conversation the scope is limited to academic and administrative corruption, particularly around educational institutions.

True to its negative connotation, corruption can be defined as anything involving dishonesty that escalates to harming others. Take the example of a school where children are supposed to receive quality education regardless of cost. While funds received by the admin should go into improving the school infrastructurally and internally, if the administration is not directing cash flows where they are supposed to be, it will result in a decline. Students will not study up to the mark, teachers will be underpaid and thus unwilling to teacher due to financial constraints, and the overall image of the institution will decline.

Another issue with corruption is locating the root cause. Is it the upper hierarchy, the teachers, or is it the janitorial staff that is preventing progress? Moreover, how do we hold such people accountable? Perhaps it is easier to hold people lower in the pyramid than at the top, but what happens when corruption occurs at the highest level? Do we contact another authority, like the government? Who is accountable for dishonesty?

The answer in my opinion is that everyone is answerable for corruption. To eliminate corruption from lets say a school administration, it is not only the responsibility of the government to hold them accountable but students, teachers and even parents can voice their concerns over institutional dishonesty.

It is arguable that perhaps the latter do not hold any concrete power over the former, however that should not mean corruption cannot be checked. People can complain to the government, who can then either take action directly or form a separate body that holds such people accountable, like NAB, the National Accountability Bureau, in Pakistan. Perhaps the judiciary can hold corrupt people accountable with ease, however given the conditions of the country, nothing is certain that such executions will occur.

Until we all step up and call out corruption, whether it be in school admins, cheating in tests, or bribery, these issues will run rampant. It also important to highlight that to handle corruption the government must take responsibility, however it should also be that the government is not alone in this task. Any sort of change requires sacrifice. While this may seem like a daunting task, perhaps it may be accomplished with smaller steps. Then, and only then, do we have a chance of hoping things get better.

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