The Need of a Reform on Integrity Education – A Study by Artur Victoria

Over the last 25 years a compelling body of evidence has been accumulated concerning the harm and waste caused by corruption and low levels of public integrity. The sums estimated are vast. The impact fails disproportionately on developing countries and on the poor within these countries. Flows of aid and structural lending remains significant to many developing countries are significant in terms of GNP. Aid and the development it is intended to spur are, however, often caught in a negative relationship, in which aid can fuel negative outcomes through its impact on corruption. It is largely against this background that a civil society and donor movement to counter corruption and establish high levels of public integrity has evolved.

This pro-integrity reform movement has undergone three major phases in its recent history: the first being awareness raising, the second the creation of conventions and international legislative structures and the third, in which we are now situated where implementation and enforcement are the overriding imperatives.

Despite the diligent efforts of many committed people reform successes remain relatively few and far between, either they are relatively distant historically (the changes in Northern Europe one and two hundred years age) or relatively particular as in the cases of Hong Kong and Singapore.

There is widespread uncertainty about whether the way to achieve improvement in public integrity is currently well understood, even if many of the attributes of high levels of corruption are increasingly clear. The historically favored strategy of implementing international ‘best practice’ has overwhelmingly been a failure.

Implementing public integrity reform is a considerable strategic public management challenge that requires the mobilization of large numbers of skilled people and resources to succeed.

The need for an Education Network is therefore based on these key understandings:

• The benefit of high levels of public integrity has been established though the examination of the consequences of corruption (the failure to maintain high levels of integrity) especially on the most vulnerable countries and populations.

• Currently there is a highly dispersed set of experiences and practices, both in the research and practice domains. A large and relatively unsystematic body of knowledge has been built up. The reliable application of this knowledge in practice remains at an embryonic stage if we are to judge by changes in governance over time.

• Despite the concept of corruption gaining common currency in the popular consciousness of most countries, as never before, it remains striking that within the academic community research and teaching remain dispersed, with very few courses being offered to meet the huge challenge of providing skills to support the pro integrity reform process.

At present much of the knowledge creation and impetus for public sector reform is coming largely from international organizations, be they donors or No Governmental Organizations. These organizations have initiated or provided the knowledge for many of the reforms that have been attempted (World Bank, U4, UN and so forth). This ‘supply’ model has some strength in that it has been able to develop a high quality of material, and a critical set of methodologies.

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