Young people find honesty important but often unrewarding, this is why it is important to teach them to be ethical – this is one of the conclusions voiced at Transparency International Hungary’s (TI) “Átláccó” Festival, held in occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day. Children are often the biggest victims of corruption: they are the ones who fail to benefit from services targeted at them due to the overarching corrupt practices worldwide. What is even more worrying is that they have all the chances to learn wrong examples, interiorize that this is how the world functions. In occasion of TI’s conference entitled Youth and Integrity a handbook entitled Students against corruption was launched, made by the organization for high school teachers. The festival served as an occasion to award the winners of TI’s animation contest as well. The Átláccó Festival ended with a concert of Hungarian-Ghanaian singer Sena, at 9 pm.
The International Anti-Corruption Day has been observed annually, on 9 December, since the entry into force of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in December 2005. Transparency International Hungary has been organizing Átláccó Festival, a professional and cultural event on the occasion for five years now, with the aim of drawing the young generation’s attention to the importance of the fight against corruption. “Hungary can overcome its wrong behavioral patterns only if young people interiorize values such as honesty, fairness and competition-based success” – said József Péter Martin, executive director of Transparency International Hungary.
Young people learning bad patterns
The “Youth and integrity” conference on 9 December also dealt with TI’s related research projects. They show that while youngsters condemn corruption, majority of them, around 80% think that the use of illegitimate tools leads to better success than being honest. Majority of young people studying in higher education prefers the honest way, however, when it comes to getting a dream-job or a better grade, they are ready to resort to cheating.
A widespread apathy also characterizes the young generation, similarly to the rest of the population: it seems that a lot of people are becoming insensitive to corruption. 70% of the Hungarian population would not report a case of corruption, either for a lack of trust in the authorities, or out of fear of retorsion. Young people often even fail to recognize a situation involving corruption, and don’t know how to exercise their rights as citizens, or the ways and places to report abuse of power. “One of the basic experiences while conducting this research commissioned by TI is the high proportion of uncertain respondents when it comes to perceiving and judging corruption” – stated Levente Székely, research director of Kutatópont.
“The first victims of corruption worldwide are the children. Not only are they the ones who fail to access services, goods due to a world enmeshed in corruption, but they also learn that this is how the world functions. And so they have no chance to break out of the circle. The example that we provide to our children is of elementary importance.” – explained Szilvia Gyurkó, Advocacy director of UNICEF Hungary. “School cheating is a recurring phenomenon in the life of young Hungarians, and it is perceivably connected with the prevalence of corruption” – added psychologist Gábor Orosz.
Young people need to be motivated and educated to be honest
Majority of young people think that they have an important role in the fight against corruption, as they are the generation who, growing up, will have a power shaping public opinion. Majority of the population itself also believes that everyday citizens have a big responsibility in putting an end to corruption.
A bigger part of them also considers corruption to be a serious concern in today’s Hungary. This is interlinked with the low level of public trust, and the inefficiency of public institutions. TI firmly believes that an input is needed from all of us, including youngsters, in order to change the situation. Educating the young generation is indispensable: they have to learn as early as possible the ways to recognize corruption and the ways to act against it.
The above necessity induced Transparency International and the Romaversitas Foundation to compile an educational booklet for high school teachers, in the framework of the “Youth in Action” program of the European Commission. (The booklet can be downloaded from here). The material, introducing an overview into the functioning of the Hungarian public power system, and the schemes of corruption with the help of illustrations, examples and exercises developed for students, fills a gap in the necessity of anti-corruption education. Besides the booklet, available in print, TI is also working on the development of an e-learning curriculum, to facilitate students in acquiring knowledge on the subject also through digital means.
To publicise the fight against corruption, a group of high school students, armed with fish tanks, performed in a spectacular flash mob, meant to represent the ways in which they would clean Hungary from corruption.
TI counts on university students as well
TI’s education and mobilization program aimed at university students and different youth organizations was launched this year, with the support of the EEA/Norway Grants NGO Fund. “The aim of the program is to build a societal basis, resulting in more young people joining the fight against corruption” – said Emese Hortobágyi, head of people engagement programs at TI, adding: “there is a need of conscious and responsible citizens; it is only with their help that we can curb corruption in Hungary”. TI’s Corruption Perception Index, released last week, shows that Hungary is doing quite bad when it comes to corruption – it is ranked in the lowest third within the countries of the European Union.
TI’s goal is to provide as many tools as possible for citizens to help them act against corruption. One of these tools is the organization’s legal aid program, which is open to anybody who has come across corruption. TI also welcomes the initiative of Átlátszó.hu: the fizettem.hu website, aimed at monitoring bribe payments, in which it participates as a partner. The most functional weapon against corruption is to make cases visible and public, and to this aim there is a need of whistle-blowers. It would be important that the government stimulates citizens by providing real, adequate protection to whistle-blowers and guaranteeing a fast and efficient examination of corruption reports on behalf of the authorities.
Benő vs. corruption – animation against corruption
The evening of the Átláccó Festival hosted also the winning films of TI’s animation contest. All films shared a common, loveable fictional character, Benő, who ends up in different corruption situations and always strives to choose the honest way out of them. TI’s aim is to use these films made by youngsters to solicit people to reflect on and mobilize against corruption. Below you can view the best animations.
Awards were offered by foreign representations in Hungary committed to transparency. The award ceremony of the animation contest was lightened by the presence of the embassies of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.
1st award winning film, Tamás Pencz:
2nd prize was won by the film of Bori Mészáros, Zsuzsi Rádóczy and Bogi Ászity:
3rd award was given to Ágota Végső and Dinesh Harpal:
Special award of Telenor was given to Tamás Borján:
Joint special award of TI and the National Protective Service goes to the film of Dávid Mikulán and Dávid Gutema: