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Group Wants Integrity Curriculum in Schools

Cambodian schoolchildren walk on a muddy road near the dam site of Steung Mean Chey after they participated in an Intentional Children's Day event in the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Education NGOs say Cambodian curriculum needs to include classes on integrity and anti-corruption.

The Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability says this is the best way to reduce the rampant corruption in Cambodia.

“Whenever children are not honest, they can one day harm their parents, and that will affect the whole society,” Him Yun, the group’s coordinator, told a workshop in Phnom Penh this week.

Cambodia’s education system is riddled with corruption, where teachers demand bribes from students, degrees are sold instead of earned, and cheating is widely tolerated.

Seng Rithy, head of the Khmer Institute for National Development, said these practices must be stamped at, “starting from the elementary level.”

“We need to make sure that being clean is established in the minds of students from the beginning,” he said.

The Education Ministry and the Anti-Corruption Unit have integrated anti-corruption curriculum in high schools, but advocates say that it must be put in place sooner.

“We need to ensure primary school children don’t see bribery happening on campus,” said San Chey, a country representative for the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability.

Last year, Cambodia was ranked as Southeast Asia’s most corrupt country by Transparency International, and the country loses millions of dollars a year to the practice.

Preap Kol, head of Transparency International Cambodia, said investing in anti-corruption for young Cambodians is a good way to help fight corruption in the future.

“When they are grownups and entering job markets, whether in government, the private sector, or civil society organizations, they will surely become clean officers and employees and won’t be corrupted,” he said.