Rid campuses of graft
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-10-09 07:36
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Good to know the national authorities are taking a serious look at corruption on college campuses.

Over the past decades, anti-corruption initiatives in this country have targeted primarily Party and government offices. Which is fully justifiable. Corruption is most likely in places where public resources are concentrated. State organs are more vulnerable than any other institutions, given the public powers and various other resources at stake. That is why we continue to believe the anti-corruption drives remain inadequately effective.

Another obvious limitation lies in scope. Corruption has bred and grown in places where there is public money.

We have seen officials overseeing infrastructure constructions fell to corruption charges across the country. Which is a direct outcome of the big money invested into the brand-new highways and urban renovation projects.

Owing to technical complexities involving statistical accuracy, it may be a little difficult to pinpoint the immediate next area that saw the biggest sums of government input. However, education should not lag far, even if it is not.

Behind the popularization of nine-year compulsory education as well as the continuous expansion of college enrollment have been astronomical amounts from State coffers. The once-hot slogan to "industrialize education" magnified the weight of monetary concerns on the agenda of all institutions of national education. On the one hand, the government has disbursed handsome sums to finance efforts to popularize various levels of education. On the other, education providers, from kindergartens to universities, boldly and assuredly levy higher and higher fees.

With such money, the landscape of national education in China should have been much prettier than it is. As the recent conference on corruption on college campuses confirmed, corruption there is hardly less prevalent than elsewhere. No wonder some say college campuses have become a new territory of corruption. Though it is actually not that new. Sooner or later, more or less, new forms of corruption elsewhere will find their way into college campuses, concluded that conference. The latest, as we have been repeatedly warned in recent years, is trading of college enrollment quotas.

That corruption in colleges as an issue has finally been tabled before the national education administrators is a good start. But we need practical measures to address it. Quite some of those representing colleges sounded at the conference as if they had had every conceivable precaution in place.

But we should never become complacent. Meanwhile, the education authorities should also run necessary checks on compulsory education.

(China Daily 10/09/2008 page8)