For many students across the Global North, attending school is a carefree practice that sees little political influence. The educational system is not typically controlled by specific political ties, monetary funds are monitored, and transparency is ensured to all interested beneficiaries, as well as the general public. But for many countries across the Global South, especially those with higher public corruption rates, this is not the case.
In Paraguay, for example, many school boards are filled with directors and board members that have affiliations with political parties that are known to be corrupt. These high corruption levels come as no surprise after looking at Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Reception Index. This year, Paraguay ranked at 150 out of 175 countries, with a corruption score of only 24 out of 100, making it one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
To help combat this, specifically within the educational sector, a new project called ParaguaYOite is being headed by an organization called Feacción Juvenil de Cambio, and its president, David Riveros García.
García’s fight against corruption in schools began when he was elected as Student Council president in high school in 2008. After being elected, he discovered that many of the board members associated with his school had links to corrupt political parties that were affecting not only the school, but educational system as a whole. To combat the negative impacts resulting from their actions, he and his schoolmates decided to fight back by contacting the Ministry of Education. Nearly three years later, an audit was filed, and justice was seen.
As a result, García’s new project aims to ensure that students are aware of corruption within their schools, and have the knowledge and tools to fight back against unjust actions taking place.
The name of the project, ParaguaYOite, is a mix of both Spanish and Guarani — an indigenous language of Paraguay — which translates to ‘truly Paraguayan’. This fits with the first goal of the project: creating a new identity that does not allow corruption to be a regular facet of everyday life within Paraguay.
The second goal is to help empower youths and students through anti-corruption training, which can then be applied within their schools, as well as greater communities.
The third goal aims to create a system, led by students, to monitor and track monetary funds, primarily ones given through the National Fund for Public Investment and Development (FONACIDE). Currently, there is no system put in place that monitors funds through FONACIDE, so corruption is difficult to recognize and stop. By properly utilizing the system, students will be able to recognize corrupt activities and know how to handle the situations, and ensure that justice is delivered.
Combatting high instances of corruption is also difficult because there is little to no transparency provided within organizations, and public information is often hidden and inaccessible. As a result, many companies and institutions, including political parties, are not accountable for negative actions that stem from high levels of corruption.
ParaguaYOite will begin by working within four different high schools throughout the city of Ciudad del Este. Through these programs, students will be able to properly track FONACIDE resources, and evaluate whether or not they are being used effectively. This project will then be the beginning of a new generation of Paraguayans rallying against corruption that has controlled their country.
For more information on ParaguaYOite read here.
For more information on Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, click here.
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