Spreading like a wildfire
Wycliffe and Digni grassroots anticorruption course in high demand.
– I have worked with aid for seven years here in Pakistan. In that period I have never heard of anyone offering basic anticorruption awareness training.
Program manager Humaa Sadaf places the evidence on a big desk at Kachhi Community Development Association (KCDA): posters, brochures, course manuals and examples of certificates given to the participants after completing the course. Not only has KCDA had the course material translated into Urdu, Sindhi and Gujarati. Lately ten courses have been run with representatives from NGOs, government and pastors and clergy in the local diocese. Five courses have been arranged in local villages. Several organizations have started to develop codes of conduct for handling corruption.
– Only our own capacity sets a limit as to how many courses we could arrange, observes Sadaf.
Vacuum. It all started a couple of years ago, when Wycliffe and their consultant, Rob van den Heuvel, went online to look for basic anticorruption course material, in order to train project staff.
– Basically, we couldn’t find anything, says van den Heuvel. – So we developed our own course.
The result was a simple, case-based course, which was further developed with financing from Digni. The course material, available from Digni’s website in English, Spanish and French, has so far been used in South America, West-, Central- and East Africa, the Middle East as well as in Southern Asia. The course is demonstrated in regional meetings arranged by Digni. From every context the feedback is the same: This is a theme that has never been addressed at basic grassroots level before.
– Sometimes I have spent a lot of time developing material that never really caught on. The anticorruption course was quickly assembled and adjusted and has become a major success. It is nice when that happens, but we weren’t prepared for that, says van den Heuvel.
Corruption culture. In Pakistan, the course participants didn’t know what to expect.
– At first, people were a bit skeptical to the course, especially in the villages. Corruption is considered part of the culture here, as one of the mechanism organizing social life. It doesn’t occur naturally to people to question their own culture, says Sadaf.
That has changed.
– In the villages, people often live at the mercy of landlords. Now they are saying that the landlords are corrupt. They never used to think of it that way.
During the course, the participants spend a lot of time in groups discussing dilemmas to which there often are no clear answers.
– People aren’t used to trainings which don’t offer clear answers. But the issue of corruption, as it is with so many other issues, is characterized by grey areas. Therefore, it is important to nurture awareness and the ability to reflect on ethical dilemmas, says van den Heuvel.
Religion. In Pakistan, society is seeped through with corruption, and no sector more so than public administration. Everybody seems to agree on this. Therefore, it will be interesting to see the reaction when KCDA organizes an anticorruption course with the government education department locally in Mirpurkhas (in December). To complicate matters still, there is the issue of religion. In Pakistan, most public posts are held by Moslems. For KCDA, an organization with Christian leadership working among the Hindu Kachhis, approaching local authorities with their course offer is not straightforward.
– The solution has been to engaged a respected Moslem as course facilitator, Mr Syed Mozzam Ali, explains Sadaf.
On 7 December, the first awareness raising course targeting government, the education department, will be arranged.
– Representatives from 88 schools in our district will participate and share their experiences with corruption in the public school administration. It will be very exciting, says Sadaf.
Happy to share. Agnes Lid is also excited. She has recently taken over as director of Wycliffe in Norway. The popularity of the anticorruption course caught her attention immediately.
– I was recently present at a gathering when I overheard to aid coordinators discussing their experiences with the course in different African countries. The course participants had immediately made use of the insights from the course. It was indeed nice listening to them, says Lid.
The popularity of the course is not hampered by the fact that it is free and available for everyone and everyone’s contextual adjustments. In Norway, other civil society organizations have started to enquire about the material. After all, there is hardly any other place to look for basic anticorruption training material.