The 9th International Anti-Corruption Conference
Community Involvement and Public Education Workshop
Barbara E. Friday
|Chair:||Roberto Saba, Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|Panelists:||Barry O'Keefe, ICAC, New South Wales, Australia|
Chea Vannath, President, Centre for Social Development, Pnom Penh, Cambodia
Fanny Wong, Assistant Director, Community Relations Department, ICAC, Hong Kong, China
Peter Larmour, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Ferenc Hammer, Joint Eastern European Centre for Citizenship
Luis Moreno Ocampo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Representative, Transparency International, Morocco
In the workshop on Community Involvement and Public Education,
participants discussed both formal and non-formal ways in which
messages on corruption - or anti-corruption - are transmitted. Values
are communicated in many ways, including by family members and role
models, formal education curricula and community programs. Each of
these is explored below.
1. Messages on corruption, and anti-corruption, come from many
- Role models. Parents, teachers, political leaders all send
messages, some positive and some negative. Participants provided
examples of contradictory messages, for example, schools might offer
programs in ethics while parents teach children that corrupt practices
are how the world works. The reverse is also possible, parents might
provide a positive message that is contradicted in school.
- Formal and Informal Sources. Families, community programs, schools, NGOs,
government institutions and religious organisations disseminate
messages regarding corruption and ethics. Very often these messages
are inconsistent. Part of the challenge of fighting corruption is to
sort through and address the mixed messages.
2. Analytical exercises are effective means of communicating an anti-
corruption message. Panellists provided two examples:
- The ICAC in New South Wales has developed an interactive CD ROM for
young children (early elementary level). The cartoon story narrated by
animals takes children through the woods and offers choices on paths
to take. By clicking on various animals that provide "advice",
children decide how to proceed. They are confronted with both positive
and negative messages and must analyze their options.
- Poder Ciudadano in Argentina developed a game for high school
students called "Cheating and Bribing". Analysts found that students
were critical of parents and adult society for being corrupt. At the
same time, students found their personal behaviour, and propensities
to cheat on exams, to be quite acceptable. Through a series of
exercises the game forces students to analyse the circumstances that
facilitate corruption, and demonstrates that their own behaviour is
not so far afield from that of adult society. It encourages an
analytical approach to identify the root causes of corruption.
3. Formal Education Programs provide valuable lessons. Two programs
that have been developed in Australia offer a wealth of information on
how messages of transparency, ethics and anti-corruption can be taught
within the formal education system.
- The ICAC in New South Wales has developed anti-corruption curricula
for all grade levels from primary through secondary school. It
utilises both traditional and innovative methodologies to communicate
its message. Geared to the problem solving capabilities of students at
each grade level, the program uses textbooks, exercises, videos and
stories that must be solved. It uses real-life situations that pose
moral dilemmas. Some of the more innovative approaches include using
T-shirts as well as poster competitions. Poster competitions have
proved effective and have had a multiplier effect. The competition
involved students submitting posters with anti-corruption messages and
images. The winners are not only announced, but their posters are sent
on a travelling exhibit. Over 70,000 persons viewed posters in a
recent competition. Additionally, winning posters were copied,
enlarged and mounted on sides of busses. In this way the messages were
communicated to parents and the community at large.
- Australia National University offers a Master's level course.
Designed for mid-career professionals, the course work ranges from 1
month to 2 years and attracts students from across Asia. Given the
international and cultural diversity of the student body, the program
faces first-hand the dilemma of balancing various viewpoints and
country circumstances regarding corruption and anti-corruption. For
example, what issues are most relevant for public servants vs. NGO
representatives or law enforcement officials vs. advocacy groups? Are
these the same across countries? How to balance the focus between
prevention vs. prosecution? How to teach ethics? How to debate the
value of democracy as a means to counter corruption given the problems
associated with deregulation, privatisation, patronage and campaign
finance - forms of corruption that are often associated with
4. Community Education Programs are replicable. Representatives from
various community organisations in Cambodia, Hong Kong and Morocco
discussed local activities to raise public awareness and fight
corruption. Posters are a common form of communicating the message to
the public at large and use creative, as well as culturally
significant symbols to convey the damage done by corruption.
- Cambodia. The Centre for Social Development in Phnom Penh has
organised public awareness workshops, worked with over 30 NGOs as a
means to involve citizens in the formulation of anti-corruption
legislation and supports teaching anti-corruption curricula in the
school system. It is working with the Ministry of Education to develop
curricula, design pilot programs and offer teacher training on the
- Hong Kong. The ICAC has used the community to fight corruption in
the police force. By establishing neighbourhood police stations and
encouraging citizen involvement, the program has been effective in
reducing corruption. Efforts also include mass media campaigns and
working with the schools to promote citizen involvement.
5. Closing thoughts to remember. Panellists offered several universal
words of wisdom, including:
- Be careful about demonising corruption. When corruption is made to
be evil, it becomes a problem of "others", rather than "of us". If it
is portrayed as too evil, we will not recognise or admit that it is
something in which we also participate.
- Corruption is not necessarily a problem of good vs. evil, but rather something in
between. We were reminded that country circumstances differ, that we
do not all live in free countries and that defining, analysing and
countering corruption will depend on political space.
distorts equity, corruption limits human rights.