In several parts of the world, buying a diploma or degree is easy if you have the money to do so. This hurts legitimate students, educational systems and the economies of entire countries. Not to mention that medical “students” with un-earned degrees can literally kill people.
As an example of this problem, 19-year old Egyptian Mariam Malak is an exceptional student with stellar high school grades. However, when the nationwide graduation exam results were released, Malak was told she scored zero because she failed to answer a single question on her tests.
As Malak knew she answered all of the questions, she believes that her exam papers were switched for those of a student whose family paid a bribe to education officials in order to get a high score. The government says it analyzed the handwriting on the exams and determined the exams with a zero score belonged to Malak. Malak then hired a lawyer and took her case to the Egyptian courts. Her attorney, Ihab Ramzi, stated that, “We are fighting this on behalf of all students who have suffered injustice in the Egyptian educational system. This case is just an example of the rampant corruption inside the Ministry of Education.”
Malak has become a crusader for the cause and she has received an enormous amount of support on social media. Several celebrities have also offered to pay for Malak’s tuition at a foreign university.
Corruption in Egypt’s education system is not new. In fact, the anti-corruption group, Transparency International, conducted a study in 2013 and found that 67% of the surveyed Egyptians said that the country’s education system is corrupt.
Throughout the world, corrupt schools hurt students whose families will not or cannot pay bribes. Researchers also believe that economies are hurt as well. Legitimate students are often denied chances to work their way up to meaningful jobs and students who received their degrees through bribes get important jobs but cannot perform. Bright students end up with menial jobs and unqualified students end up in government agencies or major companies. Ukrainian economist, Ararat Osipian, points out that, “We have public servants who cannot manage simple paperwork. It’s a terrible waste of human capital.” Everyone suffers.
Many companies are aware that this type of corruption takes place and therefore make potential employee candidates sit for exams in the presence of company officials. Those who do well are offered the chance to participate in an extended internship to prove their skills are legitimate.
The problem is so bad in Ukraine that the United States and the European Union do not recognize medical degrees earned from Ukrainian universities.
Likewise, even the best students from some countries have difficulties pursuing advanced degrees or getting jobs abroad. These countries’ graduates have a poor reputation and their professionals such as doctors and engineers are not trusted.