The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport is expanding the Anti-Corruption Unit’s anti-corruption curriculum to students in grades 4 to 6, but human rights experts said the body was in no position to lecture students about the issue.
Ministry spokesman Ros Salin said anti-corruption education would be included in the students’ three hours per week of social studies classes. The lessons were added to the junior and high-school curriculums over the past two years.
The lessons identify corruption as abuse of power, bribery and conflict of interest and teach students about the Anti-Corruption Law.
Legal and human rights consultant Billy Tai said while he didn’t necessarily think the curriculum was a bad idea, what students will be taught will be “completely different” than what they see in society. “I’m not sure there’s any confidence in the ACU achieving any meaningful outcome,” he said.
The ACU, which developed the curriculum with Transparency International Cambodia, has recently been occupied primarily with investigating CNRP acting president Kem Sokha and his alleged mistress.
Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said: “It’s the height of hypocrisy for the ACU to claim [it’s] qualified to educate youth on anti-corruption principles.”
TI Cambodia executive director Kol Preap argued that starting the courses young could help change people’s mindset and “embed a culture of anti-corruption” in the long term.