01/04/2013, 00.00
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In Thailand the fight against corruption starts in school

by Weena Kowitwanij
In the Asian country, the problem is getting worse, as shown by the 2012 Transparency International report. Thailand's Education Ministry and NGOs promote awareness among children and young people. Catholic students promote 'honesty villages' with 'hands united against corruption.'

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - Schools are the first battleground in the fight against corruption, a place where to promote transparency in business and public life. Only by teaching respect for the public good will it be possible to uproot this rising problem, which hit record levels last year.  Thailand fell in fact to 88th in the ranking established by Transparency International, a drop from 80th position in 2011. The worst countries remain Somalia, Iraq and Myanmar.

One of the initiatives undertaken involves an agreement between the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the Education Ministry that was signed on 24 December by NACC chairman Panthep Klanarongran and Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana at the NACC office in Nonthaburi province.

The matter is so serious that Thai experts warn that many Thais have started to accept corruption and even corrupt politicians as long as they do something for the nation. Indeed, the problem has reached such levels in Thai society that corruption could compromise the country's economic and human development.

According to Minister Pongthep, the issue is an urgent matter that the fight must start "with children and youth". Former Prime Minister Anan Panyarachun, who is the current chairman of Transparency Thailand Organisation, agrees. In his view, corruption causes injustices and leads to corrupt networks that link "politicians, officials, businessmen and journalists."

Against this background, a group of students from Bangkok's Mater Dei Catholic schools came up with some projects to fight corruption. Jirawan Lumsum, 14, suggested establishing an 'honesty village' without defensive walls "where everyone trusts and respects one another." Patrapa Kaseamsumran, 12, came up with 'hands united against corruption' as a slogan against the problem. All students agreed that the value of honesty must be promoted so that it touches everyone.


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