International Youth Day: What do young people in Asia think about corruption?

International Youth Day: What do young people in Asia think about corruption?

Today, 12 August, is International Youth Day, and we’re reflecting on the opportunities and challenges that young people face around the world.

For too many, corruption remains a daily curse – from extortion at the hands of officials, often in schools and universities, to frustration when bribes are demanded for job opportunities.

Home to 60 per cent of the world’s youth, the Asia Pacific region is no exception.

Last year we reported on the integrity crisis facing young people in the region. Now, our specially trained youth volunteers have gone out onto the streets in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan and Vietnam to find out just what young people there are doing in the face of corruption.

You can look at all the data from the different countries here: BangladeshCambodiaPakistan and Vietnam.

Here are five things we learnt from our Asia Pacific Youth Integrity Surveys: 

1. Young people are picking integrity over corruption

A massive 99 per cent of young people in Cambodia think corruption is blocking development. More than 80 per cent in Pakistan agree.

Young people are upholding ethical values – in Bangladesh and Vietnam more than 90 per cent said honesty was more important than wealth.

Survey in action in Pakistan. Copyright: Transparency International Pakistan

2. But in reality, it can be hard to live up to ideals

Despite their desire to behave with integrity, many young people still felt it was necessary to break the rules to get ahead.

In Bangladesh, almost half said they would compromise their values to get a dream job, while in Cambodia, 59 per cent admitted they would pay a kickback of 10-20 per cent of their future salary to get a secure job.

In Vietnam, 41 per cent were willing to lie for the sake of family income or loyalty to family and friends.

“We suffer due to weak development, education and health systems. We need change.”
Attendee, Youth Leadership Seminar, Pakistan 

3. The police are the worst offenders, say young people in Cambodia

A huge 69 per cent of Cambodians said they had faced corruption when dealing with the police. They weren’t alone – around a third of young people in Bangladesh and Pakistan had also paid bribes to police officers.

Youth taking a survey in Vietnam

4. Politicians aren’t fighting corruption because they’re benefiting from it, according to two-thirds of young people in Pakistan

Almost two-thirds of young people in Pakistan said there was no political will to fight corruption because politicians benefit from it.

In Bangladesh, 86 per cent of young people have a negative impression about integrity in politics.

5. But there’s hope for the future – young people are ready to take action

Despite the challenges, 9 in 10 young Cambodians believe youth can play a role in fighting corruption and two-thirds would be willing to report it. 

Others agreed – 82 per cent in Bangladesh saying they’d blow the whistle on corruption while 80 per cent in Vietnam say they are ready to raise awareness about corruption in their communities.

The desire and energy for change is high. 

“Despite living in a highly corrupt country, optimism and idealism are breaking through. This generation is eager to challenge barriers and participate in the development of their country.”
Kol Preap, Executive Director, Transparency International Cambodia 

Transparency International’s Youth Anti-Corruption Kit

Inside this toolkit are 15 ideas to get young activists started fighting corruption.

Find out how to follow the money and check that public funds are well spent; count the textbooks in your schools to make sure no one is selling them off on the side; learn how to start your own anti-corruption group and mobilise your community to say no to corruption. There’s also a guide on how to monitor elections so people can’t stuff ballots and rig the results!

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