Empowering children to engage in civic action.

Technical Analysis of Corruption in Education Sector

In Democratic Republic of the Congo, poor educational access and poor quality education is linked with the historic Instability the country has seen since 1996. Also, Corruption hampers all development efforts, but it is a debilitating presence in the education sector, undermining the goal of ensuring that all children and youth go to school and learn. In a country where international aid is meant to improve the quality of life, corruption denies this and can put future funding in jeopardy.

Examples of corruption in education abound. Academic fraud, for instance, is rife and is regarded as a serious threat to integrity and reliability of certification in secondary education. Procurement wastage in the education sector, including school buildings, false maintenance costs and text books paid for but never received, costs the public dearly. And “ghost” or absentee teachers who feature on the list of active teachers in schools are a huge drain on parent’s pending (school fees in DRC are paid by parents). As a result, educational performance among the poorest populations is severely hampered and the system’s ability to deliver is harmed.

Stepping up the fight against corruption in education is necessary not only to keep children in school and meet literacy and development goals, but also to ensure that the next generation  is prepared to say no to corruption, and get skills and knowledge allow them to monitor and fix problems within public and education services and infrastructures.

Rationale

One idea that is gaining ground is that young people which represent half of active people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo can hold policy-makers and services providers accountable and thus contribute to improved quality of service delivery.

Young people have the potential to drive real change as today’s citizens and tomorrow’s leaders. Many young people are passionate about creating a better services in theirs schools and communities. To act on their values, they need the skills and knowledge that this project seeks to offer through Integrity Clubs.

Integrity Clubs sets out to inspire youth (future leaders) and invest in those who will be making public decisions in the near future.  Established in Uvira in South-Kivu, the Integrity Clubs offer an intensive integrity building training for students aged 14 to 19 years old on the concepts of gender equality and social inclusion, civic empowerment, democracy, public monitoring, transparency and accountability and inspires trained students to stand up to monitor education and infrastructure services in their schools and communities and provide citizen-led oversight and feedback through “DevelopmentCheck”.

DevelopmentCheck is a reporting app and website that helps youth to engage directly with service providers and government to make sure the projects that are supposed to benefit them are delivered as promised.

When problems are encountered, citizens can report them quickly through the DevelopmentCheck app which are then published on the DevelopmentCheck website. This brings accountability to those service providers and encourages them to engage with the youth in order resolve problems in their delivery.

What is an Integrity Club?

An Integrity Club is a voluntary, student-led space with committed members promoting Integrity.

Why set up Integrity Clubs?

We are convinced that in order to bring transformative in the country change we need to start from changing children’s attitudes.  Engaging students at an early age and equipping them with good values at a stage when their character is formed can help reduce the likelihood of children growing up to become corrupt. Once their values are strengthened, students become Young Integrity Builders and reach out to their communities to make a positive and visible impact.

What is the most appropriate age for students to join in Integrity Clubs?

Integrity Clubs can suit any age, starting from 6 years to university age and beyond: the earlier children become familiar with the concept of Integrity and how to act with it the better! Of course, activities and discussions need to be tailored according to the student’s age.

What kind of activities students carry out in Integrity Clubs?

Students discuss topics and carry out a mix of theoretical and practical activities within their Club, school and community. For instance, students engage in role plays to understand how to act with integrity when faced with a difficult situation, or organise debates around freedom of Information, good citizenship and good governance. Topics include integrity, corruption, transparency, accountability, inclusivity, rights and responsibilities of a good citizen, and leadership. A non-exhaustive list of suggested topics and activities can be found in the Integrity Clubs Manual Outline.  A major component of Integrity Clubs is the Community Integrity Building approach, where students accompanied by teachers and other members of the community monitor infrastructure projects or service delivery projects to provide citizen-led oversight and feedback. To know more about the Community Integrity Building approach please read our CIB guide here or go to our dedicated page on Integrity Action’s website.

What are the main learning outcomes in Integrity Clubs?

For Integrity Clubs to obtain impact, students should acquire some core competences as a result of Integrity Club meetings. Core competences are classified into four fields: Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes & Behaviours, and Values. Topics and activities in the Integrity Clubs Manual Outline have been conceived to develop student’s learning in all four categories. A non-exhaustive list of core competencies to be developed in Integrity Clubs is shown below:

 

 KnowledgeDemocratic principles

Rights and duties of citizens

Good governance and accountability

Types of corruption

Integrity                           Right to information

International community Functions of local authority

Social auditing                 CIB approach

Government Policies

Skills Communication             CIB approach

Facilitation                      Creativity

Presentation                   Documentation

Advocacy                         Negotiation

Problem Analysis           Problem Solving

Critical Thinking             Research

Leadership                      Budget analysis

Evaluation

 Attitudes & Behaviours Accommodating           Listening

Respectful                      Persistent

Committed                    Positive

Enthusiastic                   Patient

Cooperative                   Empathic

Sense of justice             Self-confident

Proactive                        Non-confrontational

Courageous                   Compassionate

Trustworthy

 ValuesIntegrity                          Honesty

Transparency                 Respect

Inclusion                         Empathy

Tolerance                       Equity

Justice                             Responsibility

Citizenship                      Unity

Fairness                           Trust

What is the role of teachers in Integrity Clubs?

Volunteer teachers who are interested in establishing or taking part in Integrity Clubs in their schools will receive training by one of Integrity Action’s Partners. Materials and technical support are also provided to teachers, who then become the first point of contact for students. Teachers lead the discussions and monitoring activities in the Clubs but these clubs should be student-owned. Partners may also train some students alongside teachers, who then become Club Leaders.

What kind of incentives are there for students to join Integrity Clubs?

We are creative when trying to promote Integrity Clubs among students. We have Inter-club dance, poems and/or songs competitions, end-of-the year award ceremonies and certificates for students, and Integrity-themed camps. We organise community gatherings at the end of the school year where it is the community itself that celebrate students. By monitoring projects, students acquire practical skills, like data analysis, communication and leadership skills, which are valuable for their future. Schools should recognise students’ work by granting them credits (in a credit-based system) or by writing a reference letter to be attached to a CV or to a university admission request.

How do I make sure that parents are on my side?

If the school has a parents committee or a similar structure you can introduce the idea of Integrity Clubs by attending to one of these meetings.  Having parents on board is fundamental for the success of Integrity Clubs and monitoring activities. Always make sure that parents feel reassured and that all their questions are answered. Parents could also be involved in activities within the Clubs or in accompanying students during monitoring visits.

How does monitoring work?

Students divide into small groups and with the support of teachers and/or older monitors visit an infrastructure project or a service delivery project (for example the construction of a hospital or the garbage collection service in their community). The project should be selected on the basis of its importance for the community. For this reason, students need to involve the community as much as possible to get their views and support. Students try to access information on the project by requesting documents to the body in charge (for instance a contractor, the local government, the implementing agency etc). If documents are available, students start comparing information obtained with the reality on the ground. They then write a report about their findings and recommendations and share it with the local government, donors, contractors, etc. If problems are found, students organise meetings with the stakeholders to try to come up with a shared solution. If this does not work, students start an advocacy campaign to try to solve the problem. If documents are not available, students can write a request for information or start an advocacy campaign to get them. For more information please have a look at ANNEX II of the Integrity Clubs Manual Outline and Integrity Action Community Integrity Building Guide.

Is it not too difficult for students to analyse and understand information about projects?

Students – and grownups – may find official documents difficult to understand. It is important to prepare the students by training them during Club meetings on what they should look for when reading official documents like budgets, bills of quantity etc. Students can also be helped by consultants (lawyers, engineers etc) who are willing to support them pro bono. Partners found that contacting associations of lawyers etc rather than going directly to the single consultant increases the chances of a pro-bono consultancy. Another way is to involve university students of engineering, law, accountancy etc who could help younger students understand the documents.

What kind of projects should be selected for monitoring?

Students should select projects that matter to the community. For this reason, it is important to involve the community in the selection phase. Projects which are in the contracting or implementation stage, or newly finished should be preferred as this gives you better chances to solve problems found. Projects should be easily accessible to the students, to make monitoring visits not too difficult to carry out and not expensive.

Are students and teachers who carry out monitoring activities at risk?

In many cases students find monitoring much easier than adults as they have the persistence and courage to engage stakeholders and work to resolve problems. To date, no cases were recorded when students or teachers felt unsafe or at risk. However, students should never monitor alone and should always be accompanied by an adult during monitoring visits. The community’s support helps students and teachers feel protected during their visits. We found that using radio programmes to promote Integrity Clubs result in the community being aware of the students’ work; the community owns the results of monitoring and is motivated to protect the students.

How do I know that the Integrity Club is working well and achieving results?

We use of baseline surveys to understand the level of knowledge – and integrity – of students before they join Integrity Clubs. At the end of the school year a baseline survey should be carried out to establish whether perceptions and attitudes among students have changed. Integrity Clubs should also be monitored in terms of their level of participation and attendance, and evaluated ad the end of the school year to measure impact and to capture lessons learned.

How do I make Integrity Clubs sustainable?

Once Integrity Clubs are established and well-functioning, an advocacy campaign could be carried out to informally introduce integrity concepts in the curriculum, within a number of subjects such as Moral and Civic Education. If successful, this strategy can be scaled up, with talks taking place at a higher level to reach the national decision makers, to formally introduce Integrity in the national curriculum. Also, universities could play a role and be engaged to expand Integrity Clubs into higher education structures. Faculties of Education and Teacher Training Centres could be engaged with a view of introducing Integrity as a teaching module for teachers so that they are equipped to set up Integrity Clubs in the future schools they teach at.

Do you know that Analphabetism, Poverty and hunger are often the result of corruption?

The answer, we believe, lies with the children. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Through our Integrity Building programme , we seek to equip them with good values at a stage when their character is formed can help reduce the likelihood of children growing up to become corrupt.
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