Cyprus is a small country in the Mediteranian with a relatively new Democracy. In the early 1900’s Cyprus was a British colony but it gained independence in 1960. In 1960 Greek and Turkish communities came to an agreement on a constitution. In the constitution there was a power sharing clause that applied to the military bases on Cyprus. Only a few years later, tensions rose between Greece and Turkey and continued until 2018 when the buffer zone that was established opened, allowing people to cross through.
The country of Cyprus has been a democracy since 1960 and is ranked 94/100 on freedom house. However, the democracy of Cyprus does not stretch across the whole island. It only applies to the southern, greek-speaking portion of the island. The northern part of the island is run by a self declared Turkish government. The rating for Cyprus also only applies to the Southern part of Cyprus.
Corruption of any form in government is bad, but for many nations globally, their education system is particularly vulnerable. This is a major, democratic threat because it starts with the knowledge, mindset and understanding of the nation’s youth. In Cyprus, the biggest threat to their democracy is that they are a divided island. If in their schools, students are learning that they should dislike the Turkish half of the island, the democracy of the Island is not likely to improve with future generations.
The schools in Cyprus have been criticised for portraying Turkey in an overly negative way. There has also been political pressure on schools regarding how schools teach the topic of unification. According to the Cyprus Integrity Forum, the schools in Cyprus are full of corruption.
“For schools to educate the corruption fighters of tomorrow they need to be free from corruption themselves. Without a strong dose of integrity, our schools and universities will fail to provide future leaders with the basic tools needed to succeed, and more importantly, to combat graft,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International. “With nearly a fifth of the world’s population between 15 and 24 years old, young people have the potential to stop corruption both as the citizens of today and as the leaders of tomorrow.”
The education system is one of the most vulnerable areas of a country when it comes to corruption. This is because schools are so important and socially valued by citizens. It is also because education means money. An average of 15% of government budgets worldwide went to education. It is also one of the greatest areas of employment and tends to get a lot of attention from outside donors who often have agendas of their own. This means that administrators and educators have less control over where the money goes and what is taught in the classes. FInally, education attracts corruption because the more education a person gets in many countries directly correlates to how much money they have the potential of making and their status in the society.
In Cyprus, a corrupt education system, weakens their democracy and increases democratic erosion. Even though Cyprus has a new democracy, their democratic aspirations have been a battle at every turn. Being a divided island, the last thing Cyprus needs is for their education system to make people even more divided. There are solutions and strategies to help fight corruption in schools.
Educators, administrators, donors, politicians and other interested stakeholders can work together and keep an open dialogue about each other’s priorities as well as major issues that they are facing and how it affects the state of democracy in the country. They will also be able to make short and long term goals that are reasonable and agreed upon by all involved parties. They can also use some common anti-corruption strategies that start with transparency. There are tools that can be used to promote transparency within education such as participatory budgeting, Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys, and social audits. The second step to removing corruption is to promote accountability through performance-based contracting, teacher codes of conduct, community monitoring, complaints mechanisms, salary reform, procurement reform, and public financial management reforms.
Nations such as Cyprus, who are new democracies, need to be working extra hard to solidify and foster a strong democracy for future generations. The education sector has to be a central focus for anti corruption measures in order to improve democracy and potentially work towards uniting the island and taking the largest burden to democracy away, the division between the two halves of the island.
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