Transparency International Hungary (TI) has developed an anti-corruption course material for secondary school students. The aim of the project, which was supported by the European Union’s Erasmus program, is to educate students preparing to graduate from school about the definition of corruption, its forms and the various ways of fighting it. The handbook presented at the Sziget Festival contains interactive, situational exercises as well as role-playing games, to facilitate the effective learning of anti-corruption skills by students.
The course material, which has not yet been finalized and is currently under professional debate, is made up of eight sections: in addition to the definition of corruption, students can also learn, among others, about the basics of public procurement, party financing, lobbying and freedom of information.
“Students’ commitment to transparency is important for the future of all of us. We need thinking, critical, interested students who are open to dialogue. The course material developed by TI, in addition to imparting factual knowledge, also encourages teamwork and cooperation,”
said Diána Sebestyén, TI’s project leader, at the presentation of the course material.
Besides Hungary, the European Commission-supported education program also covers two additional EU member states, Slovenia and Italy (as well as Transparency International’s local organizations in these countries), thus the handbook also contains the experiences of these three countries. The course material has already been used, on an experimental basis, in two secondary schools in each of these three countries. In Hungary, this work was conducted in the ELTE Radnóti Miklós Teacher Training High School, and the Gandhi High School in Pécs.
The course material also includes an e-learning module, which tests students’ knowledge in a playful manner. The module will also be available via various media platforms, such as tablets and mobile phones. The international online platform – where the three Transparency International chapters will upload the Hungarian, Slovenian and Italian versions of the teacher’s handbook and the e-learning material – will be interactive and open for continuous expansion. TI also awaits feedback from students and teachers. The long-term goal of the program is for the course material developed by TI, or some elements of it, to be included in Hungary’s National Curriculum.
TI’s event at the Sziget Festival was also attended by several representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited to Hungary. In her greeting remarks, Anne-Marie Maskay, the Deputy Head of Mission of the French Embassy, pointed out that steps must be taken to combat apathy and resignation.
“Corruption is one of the most dangerous factors eroding democracy, therefore it must be fought,”
Maskay said. The Deputy Head of the Norwegian Embassy, meanwhile, stressed the importance of personal responsibility. According to Kathrina Ramberg,
“solidarity and the fight against corruption rest on the everyday decisions of each citizen.”
Following the presentation of the course material, the participants of a roundtable discussion sought to answer questions on what methods can be used to commit young people to the fight against corruption, and what the chances are that future generations will be able to make public life cleaner.
“Students have to be taught the causes and the background of corruption, and of course we must help them to take steps against it. This is an important task for teachers and schools, but others also have plenty to do in this regard,”
said László Miklósi, a secondary school teacher and the President of the Association of Hungarian History Teachers. Gábor Daróczi, an Erasmus program trainer and the former director of Romaversitas, gave voice to his opinion that
“during the course of the training it became clear to us that there is no knowledge in Hungarian secondary schools about public funds, election systems, taxation and the social effects of corruption. TI’s training is an attempt to provide relevant knowledge without any daily political overtones.”
The European Commission-supported Erasmus program also included a short film competition, in which TI called on secondary school students in the three countries to submit ideas that present the importance of the fight against corruption and its various methods through unique and positive examples. Three of the total 22 screenplay ideas that were submitted were eventually selected, which received all the necessary professional and technical assistance needed to make the films. Out of the three Hungarian films, an international jury including Oscar-winning director Kristóf Deák selected the best one. The winners will accept the first prize at a documentary film festival to be held in Piacenza, Italy on August 20–22. The winning Hungarian films can be seen here.