Analysis: KELVIN SIWALE
AS THE saying goes that charity begins at home, the move by government through the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Ministry of General Education, Curriculum Development Center (CDC) to include the subject of Governance and Corruption in both Primary and Secondary School curriculum is timely.
Tracing back to the analysis that was published on this platform on May 20, 2017 entitled, “Role of Church and Family in Preventing Corruption”, it can be re-emphasised that corruption is a moral issue. The best way to conquer it, is to begin sowing seeds of anti-corruption in the young before the world can baptise them in the rivers of corruption.
It is heart-warming to note that in line with section 83(a) of the Anti-Corruption Act no.3 of 2012, the ACC in consultation with Ministry of General Education through CDC have integrated the subject of Governance and Corruption in the primary and secondary school Civic Education curriculum. This is a huge milestone in the fight against corruption and cannot go without an applaud. If we can capture the young generation and begin to train them to hate corruption and embrace good governance tenets then we are on the right path to raising a generation that is zero tolerant to corruption and poor governance.
The Bible in the book of Proverbs 22 v 6 categorically states “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (KJV). This is the aspect which the aforementioned move, brings to the anti-corruption crusade in Zambia. Material on governance and anti-corruption has been packed and in supplementary readers for grades 1-2, 3-4, 5-7, 8-9 and 10-12 which have been published. The readers for 5-7, 8-9 and 10-12 are already under distribution to all the schools offering civic education except those for grades 1-2 and 3-4. As per government policy of teaching in local languages from grade 1 to 4, the supplementary readers for grades 1 to 4 are still being translated into 7 local languages of instruction before they can be distributed to the schools. This is good progress but an earnest appeal is made to the Ministry of General Education (CDC), to consider making the subject of Civic Education, under which the subject at hand shall be taught, compulsory at all levels. This component should also be introduced at pre-school level. Every Zambian child has to be exposed to the governance and anti-corruption discourse at an early stage. Further, this subject should be introduced at tertiary level and should be a compulsory course or subject regardless of the programme of study. In fact going forward, it is proposed that nobody should be employed in the public service if they don’t have this course/subject on their professional certificate.
Going by the nurture-nature concept, what we provide to our young generation matters in shaping them. It is time we provided the right environment around our children, one of which is the exposure to learning content like anti-corruption. From a tender age, children should know that taking what is not theirs is bad, and also that they should not do things that will disadvantage others. This is the way to go, hopefully more funds will be pumped into this ambitious venture of capturing every Zambian pupil/ student and indoctrinate them with good governance tenets and anti-corruption. Imagine the crop of leaders and public officers that we will have in future if we could expose them to anti-corruption and governance from pre-school up to University, it can only be amazing.
Seriously, we need to capture our younger population early enough and work towards building up their mind-sets against corruption, unlike the reactive approach which has been used in the past. This resonates well with the sentiments which people have been making that targeting those who are already corrupt for sensitisation is like teaching an old dog new tricks. While this is true, we cannot completely give up on the older population because there is still room for change of mind-sets. The greatest mistake we will ever make is to let the younger generation taste corruption then we begin the battle to change their mind-sets, this will never be easy. It is always easier to strike the hammer while iron is hot, you can shape it the way you want, woe if you wait for it to cool.
Lastly, the move which government has taken to protect the grassroots from the grip of corruption gives the nation a lot of hope in our quest to significantly reduce the levels of corruption. We may not see the results of this move now but in the next few decades the governance landscape of Zambia will be a marvel which other countries will mirror in their anti-corruption crusade.
The author is an anti-corruption activist.