Will Automation Solve Russia’s Corruption Problem?

March 9, 2018

This week the Committee of Civil Initiatives released a report indicating that corruption in both Russian healthcare and education exists due to high demand on both the side of the recipients as well as on the side of the service providers.  According to the report, one solution to the problem would be to automate and computerise more areas of both spheres, thus reducing the likelihood of illicit transactions taking place.

The report was conducted via personal interviews and focus groups with doctors and their patients, kindergarten teachers, schoolteachers, parents of schoolchildren as well as with university students and their teachers.  55% of respondents affirmed the presence of corruption in their respective spheres.

Researchers identified two trends in the debate: negative and positive. The negative trend shows that employees of the education and health sectors are trying to turn formal relations into informal ones which allow them to set their own rules and operate off the record. At the same time service users want to benefit from the services whether it’s through legal or informal means; either by giving bribes or establishing a personal relationship with the service provider.

The positive trend shows that people who refuse to participate in corruption are generally in support of computerization in healthcare and education so as to help exclude the likelihood of “impersonal” relationships being formed.

Over half of the study’s participants think that they can get access to privileged services by giving bribes. Also, more than half of participants are sure that they are overcharged for their regular services. Russians stress that the government has influenced their likelihood of giving bribes, as many respondents think nowadays you have to pay for high quality services whereas before they were free.

According to the statistics, the majority of lower-class people come up against corruption in kindergarten and schools, whereas the more wealthy portion of the population face corruption in universities. Unified state examination and computer tests would assist in getting rid of this type of corruption and would reduce the chances of a student’s relationship with their teacher influencing their final grade.  According to the researchers, this is one of the reasons behind the sharp rejection of schoolchildren to school places, which the researchers thought was “soulless” and unfair.

University students are talking about corruption more than any other group.  There are many students who don’t want to study but they still feel the need to achieve a diploma in order to find a job. As a result the level corruption in universities is high as students are more willing to pay in order to be given better exam results, or will simply pay for their diploma outright.

Respondents considered hospitals to be the most bureaucratized organizations with more than 40% stating that there is a problem with corruption. Patients believe that they don’t receive good enough services and that explains attempts to establish informal relations with doctors or purchasing additional benefits with “gifts”. Doctors, on the other hand, are unhappy with their increased responsibilities in dealing with insurance companies.

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