Elections were fast approaching. Seven-year-old Esther was playing outside when she saw a
truck in front of her school. Many people came to collect food items from the truck. Esther
stopped to watch what was happening, then she ran to her headmistress’s office to warn her of
what she had seen.
She said to her headmistress, “Please don’t go outside, they want to buy our votes. Our votes are not for sale!”
The headmistress was taken aback and said “Where is this coming from? Where did you learn this?”
Esther replied, “We were taught that vote-selling is wrong when we read Halima’s Vote.”
Halima’s Vote is an anti-corruption storybook that teaches children about the dangers of vote-buying and selling. Esther prevented her headmistress from collecting food items from the politicians.
15-year-old Mariam did not know that vote-selling was bad. She had seen her parents collect gifts from politicians during elections and assumed it was the smart thing to do. Mariam changed her views after being taught about the negative impact of vote-selling. She went home, spoke to her parents, and got them to commit not to sell their votes during the next election. Mariam resolved to educate people in her community on the effects of vote buying and selling.
Similarly, Miracle, a 10-year-old deaf girl became more passionate about integrity after she was taught the benefits of acting with integrity and speaking up against wrongdoings. Miracle has been transformed in her quest for justice; she now speaks up against misdeeds such as cheating, stealing and breaking school rules. She uses sign language to express her distaste for corrupt behaviour because she believes it is wrong.
These are just few stories of children who decided to transform their societies after receiving anti-corruption education. So far, Step Up Nigeria has worked with public and private schools to provide anti-corruption education to over 20,000 children in Nigeria. We use a storytelling approach to educate children about anti-corruption values. Children are being taught values such as honesty, integrity, fairness, transparency and accountability.
Today is International Day of Education. It hopes to “generate debate around strengthening education as a public endeavour and common good”.
I believe that emphasising the need for value-based education in schools will strengthen the quality of education, create a better understanding of environmental issues and how students can take action to improve it. This will also contribute towards building more sustainable, inclusive, and peaceful futures.
Schools should infuse value-based education as an integral part of their curriculum. This could include anti-corruption values, human rights values, value for self and others etc. Value-based education is critical to the formation of an individual; we need to start early to instil these values in young people.
Making value-based education a fundamental part of the education system will help to create and emphasise social norms of honesty, fairness, integrity, equity, transparency, and accountability. It will help create more responsible societies where people understand their roles and are willing to take action to improve society. It is crucial in building a culture of integrity in societies. The education system is a great tool to use in achieving this.