The fight against corruption begins with 'YOUth'

Jan 11, 2017

Mr Whistle, the Office of Contractor General's (OCG) mascot mingles with the student delegates at the Anti Corruption Day 2016 event hosted by the OCG

With the whistles of hundreds of Jamaican students electrifying the atmosphere, the 2016 International Anti-Corruption Day programme spearheaded by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) became a rallying cry for Jamaica’s young people to champion the national and international fight against corruption.

With every resonant message issued in poetry, song and speech, students indicated their approval with the piercing sound of the whistle.  

The bold theme, “The fight against corruption begins with you” headlined a colourful, participatory programme emceed by youth advocate, Miguel Steppa Williams, for the OCG’s Anti-Corruption Day celebrations on December 9. The Youth Against Corruption programme was designed to move young people into the centre of anti-corruption efforts, and to amplify their voices as champions of change.

Students from nearly 30 schools who packed the auditorium rose to the occasion. They asked probing questions about the future of Jamaica, the legitimacy of its efforts against corruption and their role as youth advocates. For those who did not make it to the microphone, or were too shy to do so, the whistle became their tool of communication.  Student participants also engaged in ‘Anti-Corruption Talk’ led by Miguel ‘Steppa’ Williams and witnessed the launch of the ‘Youth Anti-Corruption Jingle Competition’ by Ity and Fancy Cat that gives their cohort an opportunity to participate fulsomely in edutainment campaigns.

A panel discussion branded ‘On Target’ included presentations from Contractor General Dirk Harrison, Mrs. Diahann Gordon Harrison, Children's Advocate, Imani Duncan Pryce of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), and Dr Omar Hawthorne, Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies. A highlight of the panel discussion was Dr Hawthorne’s presentation of the findings of a Youth Survey that probed youth attitudes and perceptions as it relates to corruption. Findings are expected to inform the future development of behaviour change programmes targeting young people.

Leading the charge in the Youth Against Corruption campaign in Jamaica’s annual Anti-Corruption celebration, the Contractor General noted that young people are the future leaders who stand to be most impacted by actions and inactions as it relates to corruption.  

“There is an instrumental value in young people’s engagement in governance processes due to the value they provide in improving policy and programme outcomes,” Mr Harrison pointed out. “Empirical research findings have also shown that there is also instrumental value in young people’s engagement due to the ongoing reward of developing active citizens who can play a key role today in improving overall development gains nationally and globally, and who can become more active and participative adults to secure future improvements.”

“They will bring energy, vigour, diverse and fresh ideas to your deliberations”, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Dr Elsie Laurence-Chounoune, said of the youth groups targeted during the Anti-Corruption Day celebrations. She congratulated the OCG and partners for their vision in engaging students from the primary, secondary and tertiary level in the international celebrations through awareness activities.

“Young people, your energy is just what we need. I urge you, do not just do what is right, but fight for what is right. Learn what constitutes ethical behaviour, how to recognize corruption, how to personally live a model life and how to engage with others to fight corruption. Demand your right to education; then as a powerful unit, young people, make it known that you expect corruption free societies so that you can enjoy a brighter future” Dr Laurence-Chounoune said.

In underscoring the value of co-opting young people into anti-corruption campaigns, she noted that a culture rooted in the rule of law is best fostered during the formative years when values are still being shaped.

For 2016, UNDP partnered with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to develop a joint global campaign for International Anti-Corruption Day, focusing on how corruption affects education, health, justice, democracy, prosperity and development. The 2016 international theme for Anti-Corruption Day was, “Corruption: An impediment to the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Contact information

Contact: Gillian Scott, UNDP/UN Communications Analyst; Tel: 978 2390 – 9 Ext 2032; Mobile: 427 0766

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