Fight Against Corruption through Education: Anti-Corruption School for Young Leaders launched

Investment in education are the most important contributions, which will return a thousandfold. Today, the opening ceremony of the Anti-Corruption School for Young Leaders was launched under this motto.

Mr. Karen Zadoyan, the Founding Member of the US Alumni Association of Armenia, AYLA President, Coordinator of the CSO’s Anti-Corruption Coalition Secretariat in his welcoming speech said, “You know that the level of anti-corruption awareness and education in Armenia is fairly low. Most people tend to corruption. Thus it is necessary to instill values among the public, so that the citizens perceive corruption as an evil and are able to have their contribution in eradication of corruption.” These expectations are pretty much among the participants of the school. “You are going to be tomorrow’s leaders, and leaders need to be able to spread their ideas among the public,” Mr. Zadoyan said.

Mr. Suren Krmoyan, the RA Deputy Ministry of Justice, in his turn noted that the awareness about the corruption among the public is not high. “It is generally accepted to say ‘corruption, bribery, giving and taking bribe’.  In fact, this concept is quite wide. Corruption is a phenomenon when certain authorities and officials use their position to receiving benefits that do not arise from the public interest. Our overall objective is to demonstrate intolerance towards corruption. If each of you fights against corruption then substantial changes will be noticed,” the deputy Minister of Justice said.

John “Jake” Goshert, Information Officer of Public Affairs Section of the Embassy of the United States of America in Armenia greeted the participants and wished success in their studies. Mr. Goshert also quoted from the interview of the U.S. Ambassador Richard M. Mills, Jr. to “Liberty” Radio Station.

“We want Armenia to be free, prosperous and have friendly relations with its neighbors. And corruption is an obstacle to those goals at all levels. Corruption impedes economic growth, threatens the protection of human rights, democracy and I believe even the country’s national security, because the outside forces can control the development of your country, We want to help the people of Armenia to fight corruption, as we have common goals. One thing is clear, the problem of corruption, and all countries of the world have to fight against it.”

Mr. Aleksander Shagafyan, the Executive Director of the U.S. Alumni Association of Armenia, expressed confidence that the school can serve as an effective anti-corruption platform, as well as create appropriate tools and for fight against corruption.

Mr. Harutyun Aleksanyan, member of Board of the U.S.AAA, Program Manager, of the Europe & Central Asia Integrity Education, “Integrity Action” hoped that the knowledge gained during the training will serve to the youth in their future activities. “We attach great importance to anti-corruption education as an important part of the struggle. You should be able to teach in future and educate those around you,” Mr. Aleksanyan said.

“There are dozens of universities, but very few educational institutions that teach integrity and anti-corruption training,” said Advocate Marat Atovmyan, Member of the AYLA Board, Director of Yerevan anti-Corruption Center. “I consider this as a significant gap in our higher education system. There are no relevant courses and these values are not taught to students. This school aims to fill this existing gap,” Mr. Atovmyan said.

After the welcoming speeches, the participants presented their expectations. Further Mr. Zadoyan delivered a lecture on “Anti-Corruption Values”.

He introduced the concept of corruption, its level and manifestations. In his lecture Mr. Zadoyan singled out the activities of the leaders who were the carriers of high values and passed the values to the generations. Specifically he spoke about values of Martin Luther King: “Which are: No racism, freedom, justice, equality. Martin Luther King’s famous thoughts are important to every citizen, he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. There is no alternative to resistance. Only complaint will help get rid of patience, which makes to agree with the lack of freedom and justice.” In addition Mr. Zadoyan talked about the values of Mahatma Gandhi, “Gandhi had developed a tool of struggle that is based on courage, justice and values of non-violence. It is called Satyagraha (insistence on truth),” Mr. Zadoyan said.

Further he spoke about the values of Lee Kuan Yew, the First Prime Minister of Singapore and quoted one of his thoughts, “The most important is to have an unimpeachable central government. If the people above do not embody the moral standards and are not an example to follow, and which they gradually introduce to the lower echelons of power, then it is really difficult to do something.”

Then the participants joined in the working groups to conduct group work which was aimed to revealing the value systems. As a result of a game “The Value Auction” the participants separated three values, which were primary for them. These were: irreversibility of the punishment; morality; and transparency / accountability.

Economist Gurgen Azatyan, one of the participants highlights the importance of fighting corruption in our country; he believes it is necessary to start from the schoolchildren and university students. “In such way we shall earlier succeed in combating corruption.”

Ani Papyan agreed with him, “I highly attach importance to the legal consciousness, which is formed in the citizens just from the school age. I anticipate using the knowledge that I shall gain here in my workplace. I believe that our generation must be actively involved in the fight against corruption,” she said.

Notably 32 young people had applied for participation in the school. 18 were selected after the interview and 15 of them will participate in the activities of the school.

The Anti-Corruption School for Young Leaders will be held in Yerevan till 22nd December 2015. “The Armenian Young Lawyers Association” NGO organize the Anti-Corruption School for Young Leaders in the framework of the U.S. Alumni Outreach Grants Program with financial support of the US Embassy in Armenia. independent information website is the information partner of the Anti-Corruption School for Young Leaders.

Gevorg Tosunyan

Aleksander Sargsyan