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Opinion - Integrating anti-corruption education programmes in schools

2022-10-07  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Integrating anti-corruption education programmes in schools

René Farmer

Settle down and consider this one question: how far are we as a country in pro-actively preparing our Namibian school-going children to fight corruption to secure and sustain their future?         

It is not abstract.

Early this year, the ministry of education confirmed a total of 822 000 pupils were enrolled in schools around the country. This represents 32% of the estimated population of Namibia.  Namibia’s population is estimated to be 2.6 million, according to the Worldometer in elaboration with UN data as of 3 October 2022.   If 32% of the population can be effectively educated in becoming ambassadors in Namibia’s fight against corruption, one can only imagine the positive socio-economic spin-offs for the country.  The National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (NACSAP) 2016-2020 was the first document of its kind, developed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for the Namibian government to “promote systems of integrity, accountability and transparency”.

Equally, the NACSAP was intended to strengthen domestic anti-corruption systems, including legislation, policies and institutions.   This article will consider only information contained in the NACSAP that is relevant to learners at primary and secondary schoolsThe NACSAP introduced the “anti-corruption theme in the civic life skills subject in schools” as one of the strategic actions to achieve the fourth strategic objective of the NACSAP – “conducting extensive anti-corruption education”.   An anti-corruption training manual was developed in 2014 – and approximately 200 Life Skills teachers were trained in all 14 regions.   Following the training of these teachers, a survey was conducted in 2019/2020 to establish whether the teachers were indeed implementing the anti-corruption manual in schools as part of the curriculum.  The results only revealed that teachers required more training and clarification on certain modules in the anti-corruption manual from the ACC.     To mark the end of the NACSAP 2016-2020, the ACC compiled an evaluation report in October 2020 to reflect on achievements and lessons learnt during the implementation stage.

One of the recommendations under the fourth strategic objective was to provide training for new Life Skills teachers as well as for teachers who were not previously trained to strengthen this strategic action. Another recommendation of the report was to incorporate the anti-corruption theme or subjects not only for Life Skills but as cross-cutting and in all subject areas.

However, these recommendations were omitted from the second NACSAP 2021-2025. On 16 March 2022, Namibia launched its second National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan for 2021-2025.   Like the first NACSAP, the ACC maintained the same fourth strategic objective and included only one strategic action of “monitoring the delivery of the anti-corruption theme in the civic life skills subject in schools”.   The responsibility is now assigned to National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) within the line ministry.   One observation that remains consistent in NACSAPs is the exclusion of the ministry from the nominated steering committee and as an individual implementing institution.

Namibia signed several regional and international legal instruments against corruption and money laundering – and one of these included signing up as a member state of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCC).

Namibia attended the UNCC Conference on “Anti-corruption awareness-raising, education, training and research” in June 2022 in Vienna, Italy, as one of 14 State parties.   The UNCC Conference stressed the importance of education in preventing corruption and raising awareness of its harmful effects to the attending State parties in resolution 9/8.

As part of the same resolution, “the Conference called upon the State parties to promote, at various levels of the education system, programmes that will instil concepts and principles of integrity and accountability – and to devote special attention to working with young people and children as part of a strategy to prevent corruption”.

The role of public education – and in particular the engagement of children and young people were discussed by the Working Group on the Prevention of Corruption.   Already in 2017, at its eighth meeting, this Group discussed the topic of education in schools and universities on anti-corruption efforts.   An analysis of submissions made by the State parties summarised the presentations made by the State parties.   For Namibia, the ACC presented the introduction of the anti-corruption themes in primary and secondary schools through the anti-corruption education manual for teachers that was rolled out in 2014 as Namibia’s effort under the Conference theme of ‘Anti-corruption education programmes for children and youth at primary and secondary school level’.   It was recorded that due to this effort by Namibia, anti-corruption was integrated into the civic engagement subject taught in Namibian schools.   Five other countries also reported under the same theme.

Kuwait reported on their innovative approaches to promoting ethics and integrity at primary and secondary school levels, which include reading, artistic events and the use of theatre.   In Madagascar, the Independent Anti-Corruption Office and the Ministry of National Education developed an anti-corruption module for secondary schools.   Panama reported their National Commission on Open Government Partnership developed an open government school programme for middle and high school students that focuses on topics such as transparency, ethics, open government and corruption prevention.

The Russian Federation launched two competitions in 2021, entitled ‘Anti-Corruption Alphabet’ and ‘A world without corruption’ to encourage research and creative work on anti-corruption among primary and secondary school students. Lastly, in Serbia, the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption organised activities to raise awareness among students and their teachers on the importance of fighting corruption.   Some of these activities included essay competitions, artwork and audio-visual content on anti-corruption topics and specialised training for primary and secondary school teachers.   This Agency also contributed to the delivery of a series of anti-corruption courses for secondary school students, entitled ‘Break the Chain! Say NO to Corruption!’, throughout Serbia. The intention of this article is not to criticise the Namibian government’s efforts on fighting corruption.  In fact, this is not a dismissal or ignoring the broader efforts undertaken by the government to address corruption in the country.

This overview is only intended to reflect on the progress made thus far with due regard to educating our Namibian children.

Surely, the ministry has a much bigger role to play in preparing our future leaders in the fight against corruption.

Maybe this is the opportune time to learn from other countries but also to realise that, as a collective, we all have a proactive role to play to prepare our children in the fight against this horrible social evil ill – corruption.      

*René Farmer is studying towards a master’s degree in business administration, specialising in public sector management at the University of Namibia. She writes in her capacity.   

2022-10-07  Staff Reporter

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