The fight against corruption in Uganda has a new face thanks to another campaign by Action Aid, an international charity organization working with women and girls living in poverty.
The organization has now taken the battle to schools, where learners are taught about corruption and the effects of the vice on democracy, economic development, and service delivery, and how corrupt practices have entrenched a majority of the population in poverty, promoted inequality, and enhanced social division in the country.
Although efforts to fight corruption are in place through, among others, the State House anti-corruption unit, the Inspectorate of Government and the courts of law, Uganda ranked 144 out of 180 corrupt countries, according to the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International.
Children in Katakwi District, which is in eastern Uganda, are now learning how to fight corruption through debates. Action Aid’s Communications Officer, Andrew Onapito, says that the debates are meant to help the kids learn more about corruption and how it affects service delivery.
The district has been in the spotlight in recent months due to the alleged extortion of money during the recruitment of public servants. Information from the district shows that the recruitment scandals are responsible for the district’s failure to appoint more than 200 teachers who were successful during recruitment.
In June this year, the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and the police cracked the whip on some of the district officials for allegedly misappropriating funds meant for desks, water dams and other projects in the district. Onapito says that students will be taught in schools to avoid corruption and to tell the right people when they see it.
Genevieve Abulo, a student at Toroma Peace High School, says that the debate has helped her see how corruption hurts people and given her the tools to warn others about it.
James Stephen Engole, the Head Teacher of St. Stephen Secondary School in Katakwi, says that students are the agents of change who must be involved in discussing issues affecting their communities. He also says that corruption can be found out and those who do it can be held accountable if the learners, who hold the future in their hands, can understand how it shows up.
Katakwi District Chairperson Geoffrey Omolo said that ActionAid’s way of fighting corruption is very important for keeping future generations from falling into the same bad habits.
The campaign comes ahead of the anti-corruption week in December. This year marks the sixth edition of the African Anti-Corruption Day which is being commemorated under the theme: “Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of the COVID – 19 Funds”.