Redefining education: Integrity perspective

Curriculum reform and incorporation of moral science, ethics and value education can help produce manpower upholding these virtues and make the efforts successful to develop prosperous Nepal

According to the United Nations corruption is an abuse of public power for direct or indirect private gain that hampers the public interest and entails a confusion of the private with the public sphere or an illicit exchange between the two spheres. Inconsiderate towards public interest, it serves private interest or the vested interest of a handful of people. Fraud, embezzlement and bribery broadly cover the types of corruption visible in the Nepali context.

Small scale corruption at the grassroots level which is frequent and incidental is the first level of corruption. Our nature to facilitate our works or to get our affairs done by hook or by crook fuels this type of corruption. It thrives owing to our interest to adopt short cuts and unfair and unhealthy ways to get our work done. It is micro level corruption having less gross economic impact. However, the lack of integrity education is rampant. Nonetheless low functioning anti-corruption bodies and the lack of awareness of people about their public rights and responsibilities and about the legal procedures of public official affairs have been providing a fertile ground for the germination, growth and thriving of small scale corruption.

Systematic corruption is another type of corruption widespread at department levels of the government. It is having substantial effects on the revenue of the government and can retract or distract development. The departments have crucial intermediary roles between policies and practices of the concerned sector and unfair practices, baksheesh or boodle can lead towards the failure of our efforts.   It can be mitigated through the adoption of sustained reform and measures for intra-department cleansing or inter-department coordination. The most infectious corruption having wider range and higher degree of impact is systemic corruption adversely affecting our developmental endeavors leading towards failure of our visible plans and policies because of hidden interests. High level of political commitment to integrity, adherence to international treaties and strengthening anti-corruption bodies can help wipe out systemic corruption.

The practice of bribery to induce someone to do an undue favor with some kickbacks or sweetener is a rampant practice in our country. Nepotism is used to procure favor to the relatives in the forms of jobs, money or other privileges. Capable people and the most eligible ones for any job or occupation are deprived of the opportunities for which they are capable and the ones with relations and connections, even without the desired expertise, get the chance to occupy positions not suiting their level and qualification. Patronage disregards the principles of merit based and lawful allocation of opportunities or positions, promotions or granting contracts. Political patronage has led to the growth of a don culture with bilateral understanding between the leaders and the dons to support each other when needed. Politics in Nepal has been a contest of money and muscle more than the competition of vision, personality and ideology. Winning elections from ward level to constituency level requires the might of muscle and money more than the track record of the leaders or appeal and attraction of the manifesto. Leaders have to turn the lens towards themselves critically reflecting on what sort of culture they are promoting in the name of democratic exercise and how they will respect the interests and views of the common public who possess the ultimate sovereignty.

This scenario vividly illustrates the need of integrity education, value education and moral and ethics education. Widespread corruption in different sectors, levels and areas sheds light on our increasing material lust and abandonment of morality and oriental principles that would guide our course of action and lives. It is high time we joined hands to promote our cultural values through education. Our education should make us internalize the principle of simple living and high thinking.

The Guide for Integrity Education in Schools and Universities of the City of Shanghai specifies different content of integrity education as per the psychosocial needs of students at different stages and these contents seem equally relevant and contextual in our country as well.

The center throws light on the way integrity education can be provided to the students at different levels. It states that for senior middle school and university students, rational thinking and reasoning should be stressed through debates and discussions and integrity education should emphasize honesty, self-discipline, and the law abiding spirit and for primary and junior middle school students, visual means and interesting forms should be used for the cultivation of discipline-awareness and the education in behavior and manner.

In the context of our weakening value system and thriving corruption in our country the importance of integrity education can hardly be exaggerated. Needless to say, instant curriculum reform and incorporation of moral science, ethics and value education and integrity education can help produce manpower upholding these virtues and then only the efforts initiated to develop new and prosperous Nepal will materialize and the dreams of martyrs and all the Nepalese to see Nepal keeping pace, in every field, with other developed nations.