via Khmer NZ News Media
July 4, 2010
The setting up of Anti-corruption clubs by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) in secondary schools is a commendable initiative. The importance of this project becomes more pronounced when one considers the acute dereliction of duty that is the lot of regulatory agencies in the country.
The scheme has taken off in most states with zonal heads of the ICPC holding press conferences and seminars where papers were delivered on the virtue of the programme. In one of these forums held in Oyo State, the chairman of ICPC, Emmanuel Ayoola, who was represented by Rasheedat Okoduwa, the Deputy Director (Education) of the commission was quoted as saying that the youth represent the hope of the nation and have the potential to transform the nation and redeem the deeds of the older ones” According to him the Anti-corruption club, “would be used as a platform for demonstrable integrity and visible action against corrupt practices.” In addition, it is expected that the anti-corruption clubs in secondary schools will help fight the ills in the educational sector such as examination malpractice, absenteeism, and the award of good grades in exchange for money or sex.
It is also hoped that the anti corruption clubs across the country will build a troop of students who will, as well as living the life of integrity, be vehicles of mobilization and sensitisation of the people.
The concept is sound and laudable, but despite the various talk shops organised by the ICPC, the commission is stingy with the details. What exactly does it entail, and how will it be run? To borrow an old adage, the devil is in the detail. We at NEXT are concerned that this laudable initiative might go the way of other good ideas that were never actualised.
Besides, we are of the view that in order for the programme to be successful, it needs to be accorded a certain degree of importance.
First, we think the ICPC should push for the anti-corruption programme to be embedded in the curriculum. In the Nigerian school system, participation in clubs is often an extra-curricular activity which means these clubs will not be treated with the importance they deserve. The fact that clubs such as the Literary and Debating Society, Young Farmers’ Club have become almost nonexistent, is bad omen for this initiative, if it is not handled carefully.
In addition, students may not approach the programme with the same kind of commitment they approach core school subjects.
We think ICPC should work with the ministry of education to review the school curriculum and imbed the programme into the core programme.
The ICPC should borrow a leaf from a Transparency International sponsored programme in Cambodia called “Integrating Anti-corruption in School Curricula.” The Cambodia experience starts at primary school, ensuring that anti- corruption values are imbibed by children while they are still young.
Subjects such as Civic Education and History have been reintroduced in the school curriculum and have been given priority. Books related to transparency, accountability and good governance are readily available to the students. The children are also encouraged to discourse issues such as “Corruption and its effects on society”.
Teachers have not been left out of the process and a teacher training programme known as the “Textbook Orientation Programme” has been developed. There is also a teacher’s guidebook to facilitate the teaching process. To ensure that the programme can be spread widely and quickly, teachers were trained not only in skills for handling the programme but also to train other teachers. So those trained in the first stage become responsible for training other teachers in the next stage and so on and so forth.
The ICPC can learn a lot from the Cambodian experience and we hope that they can quickly work on rolling out this laudable project and not limit it to seminars and workshops.