‘The fight begins with you’
OCG launches anti-corruption programme for youthTuesday, November 22, 2016
BY JAVENE SKYERS Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
THE Office of the Contractor General (OCG) has partnered with the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) in launching an awareness programme to sensitise primary and secondary school students on core ethical issues relating to corruption and fraud.
The two-year programme will be undertaken under the theme ‘The Fight Against Corruption Begins With You’, and carries the sub-theme ‘If it’s not right do not do it, if it’s not true, do not say it’.
Through a donation from the DFID, the first year of the programme will see Â£88,000 going towards initiatives such as education campaigns, social media and technology, commissioning of a survey/programme, assessment, among others.
Contractor General Dirk Harrison expressed gratitude for the financial support during the official launch of the programme Monday morning at the Mona High School in St Andrew.
"This ceremony is indeed a remarkable gesture which reflects a common cause and vision among several stakeholders, a vision for a more equitable Jamaica where tenets of good governance can be observed and practised," Harrison declared.
He noted that the contributions made by the DFID towards the programme reflect the organisation’s commitment to development and Jamaica and displays the shared commitment of both entities in the promotion of transparency and integrity in both the public and private sectors.
Harrison said that the OCG is cognisant of the role and impact that awareness campaigns and education play in the fight against corruption and that the youth, who are the future leaders, must be properly groomed to fight against the negative social behaviours that come with corruption.
"I pause to mention the reason why Mona High was chosen for this launch. Two weeks ago, I attended Jamaica College for the gathering in memory of the passing of that young man and I found it very impressive that the entire Mona High attended that event," Harrison recounted.
"I stopped and watched as the police, for about 10 minutes, had to stop traffic to allow the entire school population to cross [the road], and I said to my staff we have to have the launch here because the principal and students are obviously people who are thinking about Jamaica; well done, I was very impressed," Harrison added.
He disclosed that a commissioned survey is being done to get the views of students on corruption and the findings will be made public on December 9, which will be observed as International Anti-corruption Day.
A second survey will be conducted at the end of the first year of the newly launched programme to determine if the students’ views have changed.
Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Jamaica David Fitton expressed pleasure at being part of the programme.
"The UK government believes very firmly in the values of fighting corruption. Now many of you at Mona High School here may be familiar with problems of crime and violence, perhaps less so with corruption. But corruption and crime are a part of the same problem throughout the world and I applaud the work of the contractor general in tackling the issue at ground level in schools and through working in communities around Jamaica," Fitton said.
Country representative for DFID, David Osbourne, also noted the importance of fighting corruption, especially on a global scale. He stated that Jamaica currently ranks 69th on the Transparency International Corruptions Perceptions Index and while the rank has improved and the island must be congratulated, more work needs to be done so that Jamaica can continue to improve its ranking.
For his part, Minister of Finance and Planning Audley Shaw said the importance of such a programme cannot be overemphasised as Jamaica is faced with a crisis which, if unchecked, will lead to greater negative outcomes. He said the right thing is to target schoolchildren as they are the future.
"I urge every citizen of Jamaica to take personal responsibility to oppose corruption wherever you see it and encourage our children to discern right from wrong and dedicate themselves to pursue a life of excellence and honour. I also urge our children to read their
Bible; it is a source of great instruction, inspiration and hope for the future," Shaw said in a speech that was delivered by his junior minister, Fayval Williams.
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer after the launch, Williams said that she hopes that the programme will yield increased awareness that will be measurable two years down the line. She also expressed hope that Jamaica will see a marked improvement in its ranking on the anti-corruption index, because of initiatives like that launched on Monday.