Integrity in Asia Pacific: What do young people think?

Integrity in Asia Pacific: What do young people think?

Cover of Asia Pacific Youth report

Integrity is in crisis around the Asia Pacific region, according to the Transparency International Youth Integrity Survey.

The findings – compiled in a new report, Asia Pacific youth: integrity in crisis – show that young people face challenges in upholding their own integrity standards. They admit they are willing to behave corruptly if it yields personal benefit. At the same time, they often feel that corruption is the only way to get ahead in life.

However, the survey also reveals that over 80 per cent of young people believe that youths want to take action against corruption.

Young people can play a big role [in fighting corruption]. They can come together and form groups where they can go out to communities to explain to people what corruption is and how it affects them and how they can identify corruption.”

– Tevita, youth volunteer, Fiji

In Indonesia, a group of students began to suspect that their school administrators were stealing funds intended to improve the facilities. Records showed the school’s new multimedia centre was built, yet it was nowhere to be seen. Rather than stay silent, the students started a campaign that soon uncovered other financial mismanagement at their school. Despite threats, the group kept pushing, eventually gaining the support of the local mayor. Ultimately, they succeeded in having the siphoned funds repaid to the school, and the corrupt officials removed or demoted. Read the full story here

As the story from Indonesia demonstrates, young people suffer from corruption. According to our research conducted in four Asia Pacific countries, more than 30 per cent of young people have recently confronted corruption, especially when dealing with the police or the administrative services.

The same research reveals that almost three-quarters of young people would behave corruptly to gain personal advantage – for example, using a relative’s influence to secure a job or a place in a school outside the standard selection process.

Young people know that corruption is wrong. They are willing to report on and expose corruption, and aspire to live in societies that are fair, transparent and rooted in integrity. The dilemma is that modern society makes it increasingly difficult for youth to live up to their own standards of integrity.

Ideals vs reality graphic

Uncovering young people’s views on corruption, integrity

These are some of the findings of a unique survey examining how young people and adults understand and experience corruption, and whether their behaviour conforms to standards of integrity.

Youth survey in action photo
Young people conducting the survey in Fiji

Transparency International chapters trained youth volunteers to conduct a survey on youth integrity in four countries in the Asia Pacific region: Fiji, Indonesia, South Korea and Sri Lanka.

In each of the countries approximately 1,000 youths between the ages of 15 and 30 were interviewed. Young people were engaged in order to, on the one hand, maximise the involvement of young people in addressing the issue of corruption in their countries and, on the other, enable peer-to-peer interviews that encouraged young respondents to speak frankly about their experiences and aspirations. A control group in each country of about 1,000 adults over 30 years old were asked the same questions in order to explore the similarities and differences.

Young people represent the future of the societies they live in. They have a vital stake in ensuring that the just rules they want to play by are actually being implemented. By demanding integrity from the authorities and by promoting it among their peers and their elders they can help create a better environment for themselves. Governments, education institutions, parents and other role models share the responsibility to actually make this change happen, so that the youth can develop in a just environment.

Taking action graphic

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