Educating Against Corruption in Indonesia
Anticorruption efforts are by no means a new concept in Indonesia. But since the 1950s, corruption has been mostly investigated and prosecuted, while preventative methods have been overlooked.
A new collaboration involving more than 100 universities across the archipelago wants to change that.
The Integrity Education Network is the flagship of Tiri — Making Integrity Work, an international nongovernmental organization with offices in countries prone to corruption.
Founded on the belief that universities are an essential part of monitoring corruption, IEN aims to strengthen the capacity of educators to raise a new generation of professionals with more integrity.
Tiri project manager Fahmy Badoh said the organization was trying to create a new environment of integrity from the campus, “choosing universities as agents of change.”
The method is simple. More than 100 universities are currently, or will be, offering courses on integrity and anticorruption. Classes are being taught as part of six subjects that are, or should be, closely connected to integrity: public administration, law, Islamic studies, health, business ethics and communication.
“We try to enhance the awareness of all the lecturers, especially the lecturers who are teaching subjects that can be related to corruption, like public policy. So all of them will become our agents to pass the message to students,” Fahmy said.
Posing questions such as “What is integrity and what is its relationship to anticorruption?” Fahmy said this was a new approach to the anticorruption movement.
“The anticorruption movement used to be focused on investigating cases, sending them through the prosecution process, then waiting for the courts,” he said. “While we think that’s still important, that is just taking care of the corruption problem on a superficial level.”
Tiri’s network, in comparison, is fighting the causes of corruption, Fahmy said.
“We implement the values of integrity, which is an alignment of accountability and ethics,” he said. “The big picture is to have integrity systems implemented in all institutions.”
In collaboration with the Education and Culture Ministry, the courses on integrity designed by Tiri will also be integrated into anticorruption material for secondary schools.
The Education Ministry has already conducted training sessions in different regions, Fahmy said, adding that about 1,000 lecturers would be trained by the end of the year.
In higher education, many universities are following Jakarta’s Paramadina University’s lead. Paramadina is the main educational partner of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The KPK has developed courses on corruption for Paramadina and 123 other universities in the country.
Syukron Kamil of Paramadina University is the Integrity Education Network’s national director and one of the founders of the obligatory anticorruption courses taught at the university since 2009.
In the fight against corruption, he thinks Tiri’s approach complements the KPK’s in one very important way: the rule of law.
“We want to see corruption not only gone in one sector, not just from a law perspective,” Kamil said. “We want to see corruption gone in other areas too, like the national integrity system, and also in educational, cultural and social movements.”
The main thing Tiri is trying to fight is abuse of power, Fahmy said.
“We see that political parties and the government use public resources to get some preferred treatment, or private gain,” he said. “To easily recognize what each institution is doing, that’s what we want to see.”
Fahmy said corruption could be reduced by enhancing things such as accountability, which includes standards of service.
“Competency, investigating the background and the qualification of public officials, as well as ethics, should be integrated into daily practice,” he said. “The activities of organizations should be enforced and controlled by the independent units of the institutions.
“We want the system to gain trust from the citizens. We want people to trust officials and institutions, especially the ones that are part of citizens’ daily life.
“That’s why in our design of the integrity system, we are not just engaging the institutions — central, provincial, municipal on a city level, and the family. Our design is to initiate this from top to bottom.”
This means starting at the grassroots intellectual level: universities.
Sely Martini, deputy coordinator of Indonesia Corruption Watch, said that starting at the university level was “very important because universities have young people who are motivated.”
“They are also at the critical age to see what they want from their life. Especially students at universities, they have an attitude of integrity,” Sely said. “We also think that now in Indonesia, corruption has a new generation, and we need to come up with new innovative ways to curb corruption.”
Peter de Young, a Tiri consultant and evaluator, said he was amazed to see so many students involved at two recent conferences in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, and Salatiga, Central Java.
“These are students who are concerned about their country, who read and hear about corruption cases and get really frustrated and this is their vehicle to change things,” he said. “And it’s possible because these people will be tomorrow’s professionals. I think they are going to make a difference.”
What stood out the most for de Young was that women were “an integral component of the network.”
“Women are taking a strong integrity stand,” he said. “They are taking the opportunity to get involved. They have taken on the philosophy, supported it and thought about it.”
Fahmy said universities, no matter where they are located in the country, are “social assets of the region.”
“Society will place them as a kind of moral protector. Universities have many people that are very legitimately talking about specific issues,” Fahmy said. “They are also very competent and good at giving suggestions or solutions for change.”
In addition to being vital and valuable to society, universities are independent and cannot be easily influenced by money.
“They have a set of values that makes them a big part of society,” Fahmy said . “So starting on campus is the best place to do it.”