Embracing Youths to Fight Against Corruption

“Sir, I think the Sunshine Principle can be used to prevent corruption,” said a student in a class. The sun has the power to kill germs, he said.

He then asked in which parts of the body germs like to stay. “Underarm, foot, and, hehehe, genitals, because all three are rarely exposed to sunlight. The sun is just like transparency, killing corruption germs,” he said answering his own question.

This little know-it-all guy appears in a one-minute short animation, made by Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia Pacific Youth (Youth ANSAP-EAP).

“A sugarcoated media like cartoon is good and important to attract youths,” said Marlon Cornelio, 25 years, ANSAP-EAP Youth activists from the Philippines, in the Global Youth Anti-corruption Forum in Brussels, Belgium, Friday (28/5) then.

“We also have to add humor as well,” he said while smiling, referring to the joke about genitals in the animation.

sunshine2

The animation is used as one of ANSA-EAP Youth’s campaign tools to drive youths to stand up against corruption. Involving young activists in the Philippines, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Cambodia, ANSA-EAP Youth also made a social networking web site in www.ansa-eapyouth.ning.com to attract more young people.

No one can deny, involving youth in anti-corruption movements is very important for a cleaner and fairer future. “Young people are future leaders, we must invest to instill anti-corruption values in their mind and behavior,” said Marlon.

Problem is, most youths feels the anti-corruption issue is too heavy and difficult to understand. Due to rampant corrupt practices in daily life, sometimes they also think of corruption as something common, just part of the reality of life. In the Global Youth Anti-corruption Forum, which was held the World Bank Institute in Brussels May 26 to 28, these challenges always arise in the stories of about 50 young activists who were there.

“One survey in the Philippines showed, more than 70 percent of young people simply don’t like the government nor politicians, and do not want to talk about it. If they don’t want to talk about it, how they could be interested in fighting corruption,” said Marlon.

Something similar happened in Lebanon. “The young generation considers corruption as a normal practice, and they feel powerless to change it,” said Raghda Allouche, 24 years, Project Coordinator of Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA).

Of course, Raghda said her organization cannot take it. “The presumption is unacceptable. Young people are the future, and only by our involvement, change can happen,” she said.

She believes if youths are mobilized and engaged in anti-corruption movement, a better future can be realized. LTA implement various training and anti-corruption workshops for youth. The topics are diverse, ranging from good governance, transparency, accountability, access to information, and monitoring the elections budget.

Through Youth Civil Society Leaders, LTA also encourages young people to design anti-corruption projects of their own. LTA disburse funds for selected projects.

Youths are usually tech-savvy, so technology can be used to involve them as well. Take example of the Kenyan Pauline Wanja Kamau, 25 years old, Program Officer of Kibera Community Development Agenda, did. “We asked youths to report corruption in Kenyan via short text messages,” she said.

Kenyan youths, especially in the capital Nairobi, welcomed it. About a hundred messages flood the Kibera cellular numbers every month. “Most are about corruption in schools, and one message to another are usually interrelated. Then, we go to the schools in question to investigate reported cases,” said Pauline.

Meanwhile, Ocasa in Colombia and the Regional Youth Initiative in Bulgaria held virtual courses through the Internet to train the young generation to understand and implement anti-corruption values.

“The key is, activities for youths should be interactive,  and the demands of the public must be taken into account when creating them,” said Atanas Dimitrov of the Youth Educational Forum, Macedonia, 21 years, through a video conference.

Civil societies need solid strategy to be erected, but it also needs to be flexible to adapt the ongoing changes. And as an agent of change, of course activists should set an example first by setting high standards and achieving them, said Atanas.

Training and workshops can be still considered too serious and not cool enough for youths. One bullet may be the perfect tool for shooting the younger generation to catch the anti-corruption “virus”: music!

“People love to listen to music, and the message will go straight into our brains,” said a Congolese musician, Katya Vinywasiki Emmanuel, 26 years. His band, named Katya Emmanuel, often make songs of social criticism.

“Our lives, our families, suffer because of corruption. We must fight it, and we choose to do it through music,” he said. The cross-country band – its members coming from the Congo and Kenya – blends reggae and hip hop music to reach young people.

Music is also a choice of Malawi reggae-rock band, Mafilika, and an Arab hip-hop group formed by Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, I-Voice, to encourage the youths to fight corruption.

Katya Emmanuel, Mafilika, and I-Voice came to Brussels as the winners of the Youth Fair Play music competition held by the World Bank Institute and the Jeunesses Musicales International. The three bands then collaborated to arrange a song titled “Together Against Corruption”, which was proudly played in a gig in the Brussels Jazz Marathon last week.

Their fight against corruption reminds me of Slank in Indonesia, a very famous band who always support anti-corruption activities.

The role of mass media certainly can not be detached from efforts to involve young people to confront corruption. The problem is, the mainstream media usually deliver dry, unattractive corruption news.

Marcelo Soares, 33 years, proved that corruption news can be delivered lighter, sometimes naughty, but at the same time triggering youths to act and fight it. The Brazilian journalist plans a political program for MTV Brasil. Once a week, he presents the political news with a different angle, easy to understand, with a pop but very informative graphics.

“And this year for the first time, MTV Brazil will make a special coverage of the general elections,” he said proudly. In Brazil and around the world, television is the medium that reaches most audiences, including youths, including those who cannot even read.

With his blog and Twitter account, Marcelo is also active in cyberspace. His blog Com Isso E voce? (What Will You Do About It?) and Twitter (who is followed by nearly two thousand people) is connected with the MTV website. Interactions and discussions with youths about politics, transparency, accountability, and corruption, occurred in Marcelo’s spaces.

Three days was far from enough to exchange ideas and plan solutions for problems of 50 young activists. But on the third day of the Forum, all participants agreed the struggle should not end in Brussels. “This is a beginning for our fight together. People now might feel that if they did not corrupt, they would get nothing. But we, youths, can break the circle,” said Gina Romero, 30 years, Director of Ocasa of Columbia, with confidence.

Beside me, there was no other Indonesian representatives in the Forum in Brussels. But we need not to be discouraged, because I know that Indonesian youths are not left behind in the anti-corruption movement.

I know there is one Retha Dungga, 29 years old, from Transparency International Indonesia, who is now very busy designing anti-corruption program for high school students. There is also a Dermawan Bakri, 19 years old, and his friends, who were successful in dismantling corruption in their school, SMA Negeri 3 Surakarta, Central Java, in the year 2008.

Corruption Eradication Commission has programs targeting youth in various provinces as well. Meanwhile, anti-corruption watchdogs of Indonesia, such as the Indonesian Corruption Watch, Education Anti-corruption Coalition, and Indonesia Budget Centre, are also filled with young people eager to move this country towards a brighter future.

Jargons

Youths

United Nations defines youth as individuals aged 15-24 years. Teenagers and young adults are part of youths. In 2005, the number of young people around the world was 1.02 billion people, or 15.8 percent of the world population, which was 6.47 billion people. The number of youths in 2025 is predicted to increase to 1.22 billion.
(Source: website of the United Nations)

Global Youth Anti-corruption Forum

Held by the World Bank Institute to connect young activists from around the world in the effort to create a cleaner world. “To give a strong impact, we need a coalition. This forum will give them opportunities to build networks and share knowledge and experience, “said Boris Weber, Team Leader of Youth Program, World Bank Institute.

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this is an edited and translated version of my previous post, “Merangkul Anak Muda Melawan Korupsi

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