Favoritism is the illegal preference given to any person while nepotism is the illegal preference given to a relative (Hallak and Poisson 2007). Favoritism and nepotism often do not involve bribes whereas purchasing of posts does. In the latter case, a teacher may, pay an official to be hired, or to get a specific position (e.g. urban rather than rural). Hiring and appointments are susceptible to both forms of corruption when the recruitment process is not transparent, rules are not made public, and there are no credible sanctions for inappropriate behavior.
Teachers sometimes perceive the promotional process in their country to be non-transparent and unfair because posts are not advertised, which creates distrust in the recruitment system. In some countries, education administrators are recruited based on party affiliation, or teachers based on union membership, for example in Mexico (Hallak and Poisson 2007). Unsurprisingly, there is little systematic evidence on the incidence of favoritism and nepotism in the recruitment and appointment of teachers.
Bribes sometimes play a key role in the selection process. In some countries, teaching posts can be “bought” from school committees or board members, purchasing of posts. As a consequence, teacher recruitment and selection processes hinge on the ability and willingness to pay for teaching positions rather than on competence and suitability. It may also lead to newly hired teachers requesting payoffs from students and parents to recoup what they had to pay for their position.
As long as recruitment criteria are convoluted, or systematically bypassed, and there are no monitoring mechanisms in place there is a risk that less qualified teachers and administrators will be appointed because no one is accountable for the quality of hiring, with likely adverse effects on teacher and thereby student performance.
Some available perceptions-based data on the purchasing of posts suggest that this practice is quite common in some countries (Table 7). The average share of respondents who perceives job purchasing in education as common, or very common, ranges from 10 percent in Benin to 77 percent in Paraguay. In Colombia, job purchasing is perceived as more common among superiors (40 percent), than among peers and subordinates (20 percent for each) whereas in Peru the opposite is true.7 Clearly, the patterns of perceived purchasing of posts are highly variable across countries.