In a previous post, I discussed how in Indonesia, entrenched cultural norms make corruption hard to eradicate, and I argued that because of this anticorruption reformers should promote educational curricula–at the elementary, junior high school, and high school levels–as a long-term mechanism to change the corruption culture. While my earlier post focused on Indonesia, many other countries–such as the Philippines, India, China, and others–are also beset by an entrenched culture of corruption. These countries, therefore, should also adopt anticorruption education initiatives to help change this culture.
But what goes into the design of effective anticorruption education programs? What factors must be considered? How can we ensure that anticorruption education is genuinely effective? While the issues are complex and many are country-specific, I want to highlight six important components of a successful anticorruption education program.
- First, prior to implementing an anticorruption curricula in schools, countries need to establish a legal basis to compel schools to ensure these curricula are effectively implemented. Because implementing new anticorruption curricula would require schools to incur additional cost, time, and energy, many schools will be reluctant to do so absent legal compulsion (for example, a threat to revoke a school’s education license if it has failed to implement the program within a specific period of time).
- Second, anticorruption education should be embedded in the school’s curricula, not just in the form of a special seminar series or ad hoc trainings. The objective of anticorruption education is to raise a generation of citizens who despise rather than tolerate or embrace corruption, thus reducing the likelihood that corruption will remain embedded in the culture. Because school is a place where children spend most of their time, it serves as an effective medium for social acculturation at the earliest stage. But to be effective, anticorruption messages must be integrated throughout the curriculum, starting from the elementary school level.
- Third, the government must conduct careful research prior to the implementation of the curricula, drawing on the expertise of education psychologists and other experts, to find out the most effective way to inculcate anticorruption norms. This includes figuring out the best way to target anticorruption education at children in different age groups, so that the material will not be presented in a way that is too early or too late, too fast or too slow. Countries could learn from the Republic of Macedonia’s established programs, teacher’s manuals, and promotional materials to implement anticorruption education for their elementary school students. If necessary, each province or state could tailor its curricula to the circumstances of each area.
- Fourth, the government also needs to prepare education for schoolteachers in order to ensure their capability in implementing the anticorruption curricula. This step is vital because the success of the program will depend on the ability of teachers to the deliver the curricula to students.
- Fifth, the government must devote sufficient attention to issues of measurement and evaluation, so it can determine how well the programs are working, and adjust them if they are not effective. The students, for example, should be regularly assessed, using similar tests and techniques employed to gauge student mastery in “regular” subjects like math and history. To monitor the overall impact of the program, the government could also adopt the evaluation models used by Transparency International (TI) in its Corruption Perception Index (CPI), using a combination of surveys and assessments of corruption, collected by a variety of reputable institutions within a country. To date, TI’s CPI is the most widely used corruption indicator worldwide. Although some have raised questions and criticisms about its uses, including on this blog, measuring the success of the program is difficult, and countries need to start somewhere. Additionally, in designing assessment and evaluation schemes, countries need to set feasible targets, neither too high nor too low.
- Sixth, because nothing can more thoroughly undercut the effectiveness of anticorruption messages than corruption within the school–when sends the message that the curriculum is a hypocritical joke–the government should punish the perpetrators of corruption in schools severely, especially if the perpetrators are teachers.
If a solid foundation can be established, then anticorruption education can be one of the most consistent and effective ways to produce a new generation of anticorruption citizens who will demolish the pro-corruption culture.