• School corruption

    School corruption

    Students in Paraguay revealed that funding intended for repairs at the most run-down schools in the city were often misspent or going to schools with political connections. The investigation empowered school administrators, students, and parents to understand their rights and monitor public spending. The allocation of funding has improved significantly, ensuring children in the most needy schools can learn in a safe environment.

    From opaque spending to live monitoring of school repairs

    As a teenager, David Riveros García became frustrated with the rampant corruption he saw in his city, Ciudad del Este. He rallied students, and started reAcción, so young people could have a say about what was happening in the community. It wasn’t easy. David was threatened by corrupt officials. But that didn’t stop him. 

    Since 2013, David and his team have been following the money spent on schools in Ciudad del Este. They started their research with simple techniques: gathering official records, interviewing school principals, and taking photos of school infrastructure. Over time, they built digital apps so their monitoring could be done faster and more regularly. Now, anyone can track school spending in real-time using reAcción’s online platform, Foco and send automated alerts to authorities about irregularities.


    In Paraguay, school repairs and items like furniture are purchased through a scheme known as FONACIDE. It wasn’t easy to track where the money was going, so reAcción gathered open data from several government sources, such as the education ministry and the public procurement portal, to understand what projects had been approved in which schools and whether they were being completed.
    The high school students also recorded interviews with school administrators to find out whether they had applied for funding and why.
    College students analysed the government data and data generated by their peers to verify whether the schools on the priority list received funding and projects were completed. They also looked at which schools received the most and the least resources
    In 2017, reAcción conducted its research manually. This meant high school students visited schools on the government’s official funding priority list. They carried out surveys with the principals and students twice a year. First, at the start of the academic year, they aimed to find out if schools had been told they were on the priority list, as required by law. The second survey, six months later, sought to verify whether the projects were being done according to plan. The surveys were published in open formats so anyone could see reAcción’s methodology and findings, and authorities could even add the data to their own database.
    The students took photos and videos of any works done at the schools and their condition.
    A map of all the schools and investments was created by reAcción so people could easily search projects in their area. The most recent version of the map allows users to upload their own photos of schools.

    What IMPACT after the investigation?

    With consistent pressure from reAcción and the community, there has been a dramatic improvement in how educational resources are allocated in the city of Ciudad del Este. More than 80% of the most needy schools now receive funding, compared to fewer than 20% in 2015.

    SEEK Suggestions

    Spearhead an investigation or become a trainer for one of our partner communities, NGOs or funders. Whether you’re an armchair detective or certified investigator, we've got the right opportunities to match your expertise.
    Real estate
    July 4, 2023

    Real estate

    Germany’s non-profit media outlet Correct!v crowdsourced rental contracts from residents to understand who controls the real estate market in major urban centres in Germany and Europe.
    Health & medicine
    July 4, 2023

    Health & medicine

    Bloggers, journalists and other information professionals from Francophone Africa are investigating issues related to health and medicines as part of the Africa Health Lab.