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Anti-corruption 101

Students at a high school in Kampong Chhnang. New lessons are being prepared to provide high school students with better knowledge on the nation’s corruption laws
Students at a high school in Kampong Chhnang. New lessons are being prepared to provide high school students with better knowledge on the nation’s corruption laws. DC-CAM

Anti-corruption 101

Cambodia's high schoolers, soon to enjoy an overhaul of the nation’s bribery-plagued test-taking system, can now also look forward to lessons in corruption busting.

At the start of a three-day teacher training workshop in the capital yesterday, the ACU announced it would begin rolling out anti-corruption lesson plans starting with an addition to the upper secondary school “Life Skills” curriculum in the following academic year.

The new lesson plans “are the starting point for changing the attitude of students … in order to build up a good society”, Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron said.

The 12-unit anti-corruption addendum will be unpacked in eight teaching hours spread throughout the year, with the hope that students armed with a better knowledge of their nation’s corruption laws will be less tolerant of crime.

“I see corruption like a social cancer.… Educating young people about integrity and anti-corruption is like injecting them with a vaccination so they are not affected by these diseases,” said Kol Preap, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, which assisted in developing the new curriculum.

But critics scoffed at the idea that embedding anti-corruption lessons into the school day would have an impact in a nation consistently ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt; last year, a leading international corruption index found Cambodia to have the worst perceived level of corruption in ASEAN.

“The whole system needs to be cleaned up, otherwise what’s in the lesson plans isn’t going to matter,” said Son Chhay, an opposition party lawmaker-elect. “How do they expect students to learn corruption is bad while at the same time many are bribing their teacher for a passing grade? The reality of this country is that if you do good things you are good in name only, and if you do bad, corrupt things, you profit.”

The ACU declined to provide the Post with specifics or a copy of the upcoming anti-corruption curriculum, but said the new textbooks will be published soon, funded by either the Ministry of Education or a development partner.

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