Our chapter in China, with support from Integrity Action, is starting a student-led movement against corruption through a range of activities designed to raise awareness about integrity issues. The first student integrity event was held in December 2011 to mark United Nations Anti-Corruption Day. Twenty-two universities and more than 19, 000 students took part.
By 2013, the number of students participating in Anti-Corruption Day events organised by Transparency International China and Integrity Action had swelled to 100,000 students from 19 cities.
Creating a culture of integrity to combat the culture of corruption
The goal of the programme, broken down into three key areas, is to foster an “integrity culture” and change social attitudes and behaviors among the next generation to combat a culture of corruption, which is today nurtured by social acceptance.
Our research shows that the message is welcome. More than half the number of the people in our 2010-2011 survey on corruption perceptions in China said they would fight corruption.
As part of the integrity programme, students learn about the true cost of corruption and are shown how to be agents of change in society. The students also learn about the different forms of corruption – from grand corruption to more subtle issues such as conflicts of interest, not just the blatant soliciting of bribes. The students are then asked to proactively organise anti-corruption events in their communities.
Transparency International China’s integrity-promoting programme
This is where top integrity students are selected to take the anti-corruption message back to their local communities by organising events to spread anti-corruption messages and encouraging people to report their cases of corruption.
The annual integrity camp combines a mixture of outdoor team-building exercises, lectures where corruption cases in various sectors are analysed, and activities where students share experiences of corruption and why they chose to be involved with the integrity programme.
Student Integrity Associations
The Student Integrity Association (SIA) chapters in universities form a base to engage more volunteers and expand the integrity-promoting work. By the end of 2013, there were 33 SIAs and the goal is to reach 40 by the end of 2014.
Creating long-lasting impact
China’s problems with corruption are well-documented. Just over half the number of people in China say corrupt officials are a big problem; top leaders have made headlines in the global media for holding assets in off-shore companies in secrecy jurisdictions and illicit out-flows were estimated at US$3.79 trillion between 2000 and 2011. The question is whether a grassroots movement can take on this pervasive problem in China.
Our chapter in China and the students involved in efforts to combat corruption believe small stands against it can snowball to bring change.
After my graduation, I want to be a politics teacher in high school where my anti-corruption messages and integrity ideas can be passed on to my students.”
– Liu Hetao, Integrity Ambassador from Nantong University
Transparency International China is continuing to connect and rally young people in the fight against corruption and further the reach of the student network.
A recent survey of universities shows a demand from students for incorporating integrity training into the curriculum. China has 2,500 universities and colleges but, only 33 have a Student Integrity Association and 15 offer an integrity education curriculum.
– Yangkai, a student from Hunan University
Outreach to young people
Transparency International chapters in other countries are also focusing on youth integrity and anti-corruption training.
For example, Transparency International Cambodia offers a youth camp that provides 130 young people with the opportunity to learn from the Anti-Corruption Unit, media, and prominent youth leaders in how to demand for better governance.
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