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Question of the week
June 1, 2009
Please share your experiences with youth’s perceptions and attitudes towards corruption in education in your countries. What are some common misconceptions about corruption (if any)? How are SLP-TEN activities helping to improve youth perceptions about corruption in education?

NGOC Response from Armenia:
Being brought up in a society where corruption has become a part of the culture and everyday life, it is really very hard for young people nowadays to understand that it is possible to get rid of this evil or at least to reduce it some very low level. When we look back at the earlier times especially the period before Armenia became a part of the Soviet Union we hardly hear any cases of corruption. The overwhelmingly corrupted state we inherited from the Soviet period requires quite a period of time to get rid of corruption. It so much went deep in every sphere of the society that sometimes we do not even perceive some cases as corruption. Now is the right time to raise awareness among young people on how sick the society is. We must raise of corruption level that is so high, inspire them and enable them to identify different forms of corruption and start fighting against them, at least not to become a stimulator for these cases as this phenomenon is two-sided. It is not only the person who takes a bribe that is engaged in a criminal process but also the person who stimulates this process is a part of it. As the young people mentioned sometimes people themselves stimulates the corruption risks for many reasons such as to benefit their own business, or some students find much easier to give bribes to pass their exams rather than studying. So the target group for struggle against corruption in education is not only the people in top position of authority but also the students themselves who are at the advantage of its existence. This short-term profits could bring a very long-term disaster for many generations. Of course the young people put forward arguments that sometimes they become a participant of this crime as far as there are some cases where you have to do it otherwise you will not be able to reach your aim so to change the situation there should be other measures taken by higher officials so that, for the beginning, people could understand what they can lose and what they can gain while being engaged in the corruption. While talking about education we see that it exists in any educational institution even at the kindergarten level. It’s really very much inspiring that the number of the young people understand that corruption in education first of all damages themselves and they are gradually filled with the spirit of getting rid of it. They understand that corruption in education brings to lower qualified graduates and professionals which is really disastrous for their developing country and hampers the business, economic and cultural development of it.
Due to the SLP- TEN activities taking place in Armenia the young people started perceiving corruption in a different way and got a fighting spirit realizing that corruption s could decrease only if each of them took an active participation in that process.

YUVA Response from Azerbaijan:
As for Azerbaijan there are several kinds of perceptions and attitudes by young people towards corruption in general, and specifically towards corruption in education sector. The general concept presented by the young people with whom we are having meetings it that in fact, the root of corruption is based on high authorities and high-rank officials who are in fact interested in the existence of corruption. Namely, corruption in Higher Education Institutions is a very complicated hierarchy in which the parties of corruptive cases are very much correlated, that is if the so-called “first” step of corruption starts with a student the “last” step is completed by the high authorities of university.

As mentioned above, the youth’s opinions differ from each other very much. For instance, one attitude coming from the youngsters is that students get involved in corruption because their initial expectations on higher education are not met after that they are admitted for the university, that is the grievous education system which is very often called by students as “Soviet remnant” disappoints them. Majority of students finds the way of conducting the lessons and the methodology of teachers very boring and old.

The common misconception among young people related to the corruption in HEIs is the pessimism which we also mentioned in our quarterly report as well. To give a clear picture of it, during the seminars with the students of different universities some opinions sounded such as even if one of the students in the class doesn’t get involved in corruption in any way, the others in the class will still continue bribing and in this case as the others in class maintain the majority, the elimination of corruption seems impossible. And in this point, the idea conveyed by TEN project activities invokes the resistance against corruption in students. Moreover, by the general definition of corruption during the seminars help the student very much to realize that the corruption is not only bribery, but it’s just an expanded form of it in higher education.

Another there is also one noticeable point that we would like to mention. As you know we have already started conducting the survey and this period overlaps with the duration of the examination sessions. So in itself, this survey motivates the student very much to strive for the transparency and avoidance from any kind of corruption during examinations.

YEF Response from Macedonia:
Speaking of corrutpion there is a common misperception that corruptive activities are strictly seen at pour countries, strictly seen at just certain vocations, strictly seen at certain times, but, if we analyze the synonyms for corruption: dishonesty, immorality, harm, fraud and so on, soon we are going to realize that corruption is so wide and undefined as a concept and because of that it can be seen in different layers, different intensities all around the world. There is no such place without corruption, but there is an environment where this kind of miss behavior is on its margins.

Unfortunately corruption is one of the biggest problems in modern Macedonian history. The corruption is so infiltrated in the system that stops almost every reform (economical, social, justice). This corruptive wave unfortunately is also active in the educational system. I would like to point out 3 important points that by my opinion are the key element of the high level of corruption in education in Macedonia:

1. the apathy in the student environment
2. the ignorance of the institutions for the existence of corruption
3. and last but not least the week (and not defined) regulation

Speaking on the first one, because the corruption is almost common on everyday basics there is a whole group of generations (students & administration) that from the start of their academic carrier are getting used to see corruptive activities, and are getting used to see that nobody is trying to stop it, then they (the students & administration) join the whirlpool of corruption. Today, these people cannot make the difference between right and wrong, good or bad, corruptive or transparent. This is the field where we personally believe that we can and we are acting. The project awareness raising activities are a perfect tool to show the benefits of non-corruptive education to the community. We should act to crush the ambiance of apathy and start the reforms.

We are convinced that almost every student knows or remembers only the blunt form of corruption illustrated in the form of paying for an exam. The good thing about the awareness raising activities is that they can be used as a media which will help the students to find out more about the different types of corruption and the ways to fight against them.

The second problem about the perception of corruption is the unwillingness of the institutions to admit the existence of it. The civil sector and the Medias must fight against this blindfolded policy. We should try to change the educational system to a better and transparent one and hopefully corruption free. HEIs sooner or later must face with the fact of corruption and start reforms in this field. There is a certain denial or not readiness to solve the problem. We believe that in this time the academic life and spirit are in great danger.

The legal frame of the project is the element that can help institution to rebuild or to strengthen their system and provide a better education, because at the end the quality of education is the one that matters the most.
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