Breaking the mould: Building ethics among the young

Aliza Chelminsky, Daniela Zemanovicová, Azeddine Akesbi, Maria Teresa Brassiolo, 10th IACC, Workshop report, Civil Society, Private Sector

Maria Teresa Brassiolo, Transparency International Italy
Dr. Herbert Bergmann, GTZ

Maria Teresa Brassiolo
Daniela Zemanovicova, Transparency International Slovakia
Prof. Azeddine Akesbi, Institute of Educational Planning, University of Rabat, Morocco
Aliza Chelminsky, Head, Transparency Network Unit, Mexican Ministry of the Controllership and Administrative Development, Mexico

The panel co-ordinator, Herbert Bergmann, started by noting that corruption is not a topic on curricula in most countries. He mentioned that he found only four initiatives on corruption and education through an internet search and concluded that corruption and education is a neglected topic. He proposed to focus on the following issues in the workshop:

  1. What are the conditions of success in order for education to take up the issue of corruption?
  2. What would be a successful strategy?
  3. At what level can this be done?
  4. What should be the content of teaching corruption in education institutions?

Contribution by Daniela Zemanovicova

Mrs. Zemanovicova covered the following issues:

  1. TI strategy in combating corruption and the role of education in Slovakia
  2. Why education is an indispensable ingredient in the fight against corruption?
  3. What do we do in secondary and tertiary education?
  4. Future steps

TI Slovakia's strategy focuses on systemic change rather than changing individual attitudes and behaviour. Political will is the key for a successful strategy; part of this is an active, empowered and well informed citizenry that can put pressure on the political system to effectively tackle the problem of corruption. Education therefore is an integral part of the strategy. Especially in transitional countries, education is the key, as there is a legacy of individual disempowerment, apathy among the general public and paternalism. Thus, young people need to be educated to voice their concerns and needs in the public sphere.

The objectives of the TI programme are:

  1. to spread information among the general public
  2. to turn citizens into active participants in the fight against corruption

Zemanovicova went on to describe some specific projects, e.g. studies on legislative environment and best practices, video-tapes on corruption issues that also can be used in educational institutions. There will be a new course in high schools on corruption, designed by TI.

TI has also worked on featuring corruption in civic education programmes and changing textbooks and teacher's manuals to include the issue of corruption and transparency. At the level of universities and colleges, the approach of introducing corruption could be quicker, e.g. through specific lectures and working with teacher's colleges. On a long-term basis, a new course is being designed on the economic aspects of corruption. In the future, TI Slovakia plans to act as a clearing-house and information-sharer on this issue.

Maria Brassiolo pointed out two crucial issues regarding Ms. Zemanovicova's presentation:

  1. the education of young people so that they become responsible citizens
  2. teaching ethics at all levels of education and using the means of teaching teachers as a starting point

Contribution by Prof. Azeddine Akesbi

Mr. Akesbi reported on TI Morocco's projects to try to eradicate corruption in Morocco. He noted that a favourable political context is very important, e.g. the change in government in Morocco prepared the ground for co-operation with the Ministry of Education.

A pilot phase on providing education on corruption issues was launched focusing on awareness campaigns in 45 schools. A high flexibility characterised the pilot phase, as teachers had a lot of freedom to implement the programme. The evaluation of the pilot phase showed the success of the international anti-corruption day at schools and it was recommended that the project should be institutionalised and make it an integral part of the curriculum.

The project also involved co-operation with the Ministry of Education to spread the project to 6,000 schools. An academic study showed strong interest in this topic and a lot of initiatives taking place on the issue of corruption. The difficulties of the project evolved around:

  1. involving all stakeholders
  2. adjusting the project's timeline to the timelines of existing curricula
  3. financial difficulties

Lessons learned:

  • all stakeholders need to be involved
  • flexible and creative approach is more important than a direct and streamlined one
  • information as well as information carriers are needed

Future steps:

  1. Increase education activities in this area
  2. Incorporate corruption in curricula
  3. Parents and community need to be involved
  4. Develop teaching toolkits and methodologies
  5. Teach facilitators
  6. Promote exchange of experience
  7. Holistic approach, not only focusing on education
  8. Reflect on the important role of the media
  9. Increase scientific research in this area

Contribution by Maria Teresa Brassiolo

Mrs. Brassiolo started off her presentation by stating that corruption is very much a consequence of insecurity about the rules of conduct and the lack of a broader understanding of basic ethics (e.g. personal responsibility, human dignity). Civil society is key in combating corruption, as corruption can be found in all other sectors where political and/or economic power lies.

An important component of the strategy has to be the establishment of basic ethic rules in educational institutions and in general society: a sustainable and strong democracy is based on shared civic values, rather than appropriate legal mechanisms. Corruption is not only an economic threat, it is an ethical one, as it forms a false idea of society.

At the university level, corruption is included as a topic in first year courses as well as at a master's level in business schools, focusing on the importance on ethic values for companies and the coincidence of employers and company values. At the level of upper high school classes, it is possible to reach many students. As a creative impulse, they are now initiating a theatre programme, incorporating corruption in already existing plays.

Contribution by Aliza Chelminsky

Mrs. Chelminsky reported on a recently conducted programme in Mexico, where much as was the case in Morocco, there is also a lot of political will to combat corruption. The fight against corruption is a key component of the government's activities. The government programme entails the following components:

  • involves all federal ministries
  • promotes transparency in govt actions
  • stresses prevention and internal controls
  • involves (civil) society in order to construct a culture of transparency

There was a specific unit (Transparency Network Unit) created at the Mexican Ministry of Controllership and Administrative Development in Mexico, working closely with important figures in society and focusing on educational initiatives. The main co-operation partners are CSOs, businesses and schools/universities. Examples of the programmes are:

  • training observers of public bids
  • training public servants in "good government"
  • establishing codes of conducts
  • sharing best practices
  • measuring corruption through empirical surveys
  • PR activities to spread information on corruption
  • training future professionals (at business schools) in practical ethics
  • working with business organizations on transparency and integrity issues
  • "say no to bribes" campaigns using logos on daily consumer products
  • educating children through early awareness campaigns (children's webpage, senior citizens as story-tellers etc.)

After this, Mrs. Chelminsky highlighted the children's website ( directed at children in the age range between 6 to 12 years, where value-based stories and games are shared and parents/educators can obtain advice on how to deal with ethical issues in educating children. Additionally, comic figures, the "supertransparent gang", were created as role models for children.


Ms. Brassiolo noted the common strategies adopted and conclusions drawn by presenters, and opened the discussion to the floor. A participant proposed to continue the engagement by establishing a listserv on education & corruption efforts, as there is a lot of value in sharing best practices and experiences. Another participant asked the panellists about information on teaching ethics in sports as sports can be used as an excellent mechanism to establish certain values, though there also are some negative aspects of professional sports with regard to corruption. Mr. Bergmann uttered a word of caution with regard to the apparent success of value-based education, as he seemed to be the only one sceptical about it in the audience and asked about whether there are any impact assessments/evaluations available, which would be essential in establishing the value of such work.

Main Themes Covered

  1. Description of specific projects featuring corruption in educational institutions
  2. Successful features of educating the young on corruption
  3. Corruption-related topics in school curricula and university courses
  4. Anti-corruption initiatives among the youth outside of educational institutions

Main Conclusions

  1. Integrating anti-corruption issues in all subjects, not only designing a specific anti-corruption course
  2. Value-based education on corruption can be an effective means to combat corruption.
  3. Civil society involvement in anti-corruption initiatives in educational institutions is key.
  4. Political will is key of a holistic and systemic approach to address the issue of corruption.
  5. There is still a lack of corruption-related topics in school curricula and university courses.
docBreaking the mould: Building ethics among the young

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