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BABATI, Tanzania

A relentless campaign over the past few years to use school children to combat graft in the government and society has helped the East African country of Tanzania to improve its ranking in the global transparency index.

In 2015, Tanzania began experimenting with involving school children to campaign against corruption.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Holle Makungu, a senior official at the country’s Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) said the anti-corruption clubs set up in schools and institutes of higher learning have helped to cultivate the culture of integrity among students.

Tanzania which ranked 99nd out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2018 corruption perceptions index (CPI) was at 96th place in 2019, gaining four points.

The global watchdog has also acknowledged that Tanzania’s scores have been steadily improving since 2015.

“The clubs are aimed to nurture appropriate value and positive attributes among students to enhance their knowledge of ethics and integrity thus promoting their ethical behavior,” said Makungu.

He added that these clubs are not only creating awareness but also working to inculcate moral uprightness in the younger generation.

Benedicta Mrema, a program officer with HakiElimu – a voluntary group working in the education sector -- said the anti-corruption clubs in schools have helped promote integrity.

“When children are taught to reject corruption when they are still very young, they are likely to uphold the highest degree of ethical conduct when they grow up,” she told Anadolu Agency.

But many experts believe that fighting corruption in the East African country is an uphill struggle, which requires hard decisions.

The anti-corruption clubs in primary and secondary schools also teach the values of open and responsible governance.

Effective in spreading awareness

According to Makungu, these anti-corruption clubs comprising students have not only proved effective in spreading awareness but are also working as watchdogs to report incidents of graft.

“We have been receiving hundreds of calls through our hotline numbers, where people report about corruption. We investigate them and many times have prosecuted those involved in bribery,” he said.

Around 7,788 such clubs with 555,770 members have been set up in many primary and secondary schools across the country so far, said Sultan Ngaladizi, the head of the public education desk at the PCCB.

Over the years the PCCB has been involving the youth to fight corruption by holding seminars, symposiums, debates, public meetings, drawing, and essay competitions as well as using radio and television programs, said Makungu.

These clubs not only combat graft but also work as watchdogs in their institutions, ensuring that teachers take classes and students attend them regularly.

At a secondary school in Nachingwea district, the students used to dodge classes. But ever since the school formed an anti-corruption club, the students hardly miss out on lessons.

“This club has also helped to make lessons interesting and interactive. I don’t want to miss a class now” said Mikidadi Msigwa, a student. Anadolu Agency

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