It is necessary to extend the Anti-Corruption Education Programs to save the State System from Corrosion

Corruption is a corrosion depleting the state system, and one of the important tools for the effective fight against it is the implementation of anti-corruption educational programs. This was the idea being underlined by the speakers and the participants of the discussion on the topic of “Challenges of Anti-Corruption Education in Armenia” held in Gyumri. 

The event was organized in the framework of the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” project co-funded by the EU and the OSCE Office in Yerevan.

The AYLA Executive Director/”Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” Project Grants Coordinator Mr. Artak Saribekyan delivered a welcoming speech and wished the participants effective discussions.

“The international experience shows that the effective fight against corruption has been conditioned by the fact that serious reforms have been undertaken in the educational system and as a result individuals with a new mentality have been developed, who have substantially decreased the levels of corruption by taking positions in the state governance system”, said the local expert of the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” Project Mr. Marat Atovmyan.

He also mentioned that currently not sufficient knowledge is transferred on the fight against corruption in the framework of the subject of “Social Sciences” in public schools and the subject of “Ethics” taught in the Faculties of Law of certain universities. It is necessary to extend the anti-corruption education programs.

The international expert of the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” Project Mr. Carl Ulbricht said that the anti-corruption education has three most important objectives: raising of awareness of the population, forming intolerance towards the corruption and perception of justice. And to achieve these objectives it is needed to work through formal and non-formal educational programs.

 The international expert also presented the successful experience of Singapore, Hong Kong and Lithuania in the fight against corruption: in these countries individual conversations are being undertaken with the citizens, comics, social advertisements, cartoons, detective series and etc. are being pictured.

The Senior Prosecutor of the Shirak Region`s Prosecutor`s Office Mr. Gevorg Gevorgyan expressed an opinion that the successful international experience can not in all cases succeed here, as Armenians have their national specific features and traditions. For example, if they approach people in Armenia or visit their homes, people will think of them as “Witnesses of Jehovah”.

In response to this comment Carl Ulbricht said: “I have been communicating with Armenians since 1991. And I have heard a lot “we are different”. I agree to certain degree, but after all we all are people”.

The regional coordinator and expert of the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” project Gayane Gevorgyan presented that during the last year non-formal educational programs have been implemented in the schools of Shirak region, there have been drawing and essay competitions, moot courts, trainings for teachers, and during this time some problems have been faced. “Initially we faced a barricade, the schools were not willing to allow the implementation of programs, or were postponing those, and the argument was if the anti-corruption events was being held in a certain institution, it would mean that the society thought corruption activities had been noticed there”.

G. Gevorgyan added that they could break these stereotypes and currently the CSOs which had joined their fight wouldn`t have such problems, and currently even educational institutions themselves invite to hold such programs there. The management of one of the schools even suggested to insert the anti-corruption education program in schools on the state level.

During the event the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” Project Assistant Rima Sargsyan presented the results of the 1st year of the project implementation. To build the capacities of the CSOs in monitoring and public control, representatives of 105 CSOs (including also Mass Media) have taken part in 10 trainings in Yerevan and the regions.

Watchdog activities on the Government`s Anti-corruption strategy, on the judicial-legal reforms for the years of 2012-2016, on the upcoming anti-corruption strategy and other documents are also being held. Anti-Corruption Coalition has been established, and around 70 NGOs from Yerevan and the RA regions are its members. Respective steps have been undertaken also to foster sustainable dialogue between the Government and the CSOs aimed at the strengthening of the Anti-corruption mechanisms.

Legal advisor of the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” project Arnold Vardanyan introduced a presentation on the role of the CSOs in the fight against corruption. He was asked questions on the efficiency of the anti-corruption strategy and the activities of the anti-corruption Council, recently established by the Government.

A. Vardanyan also mentioned that the Armenian Young Lawyers` Association implementing the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” Project, as well as the Anti-Corruption Coalition have raised for multiple times two important problems: Social sphere has not been included in the 2015-2018 Anti-Corruption Strategy as a target sphere, and secondly, the CSO involvement in the Anti-Corruption Council is quite small: it is envisaged to have only 2 members from CSOs.