A two-day international conference on corruption-free schools to adopt a code of conduct for stakeholders of schools has ended in Accra with a call on all actors to show more commitment and dedication to sustain the campaign to achieve the desired benefits.
Mr Baffour Dokyi Amoa, Director, International Campaign for Corruption-Free Schools (ICCS), said the sustenance was necessary to rid schools, communities and societies of the menace of corruption in the educational system.
The conference organized by the ICCS and supported by “Bread For All”, a Switzerland-based Non-Governmental Organisation, brought together participants from nine countries to discuss and adopt a code of conduct for stakeholders in schools.
The countries are Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea Conakry and Switzerland, and a representative from the ECOWAS Commission.
Mr Amoa said the Campaign was to raise awareness and educate trainers and trainees on the negative impact of corruption, eradicate or minimize corruption in selected schools in selected countries.
It was also to promote common campaign through networking among the selected schools, other actors and between countries.
Mr Amoa said the idea of the campaign was mooted in 2000 and was followed with a baseline survey in four countries in West Africa prior to pilot campaign projects in four countries, which were planned and implemented in 2003.
“Today, we can count a total of eight countries in the sub-region that are part of the campaign,” he said.
He said in Ghana, six existing schools were monitored and 16 new schools were also recruited during the period.
“These comprised two basic schools, 19 secondary schools and one tertiary institution. In all, about 13,450 pupils and students were reached during the period.
“Today, I dare say that a large number of students and pupils, parents/guardians, school administrators, teachers and even non-school personalities have been touched by this campaign and we continue to receive many positive responses from across the sub-region.”
Mrs. Angelina Baiden-Amissah, Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, said the recent upsurge of corruption in the education sector was alarming.
She said it was vital for the well-being of countries that children developed a conscience which would enable them to choose between right and wrong so that they could become upright role models, active and worthy members of a prosperous society as well as fearless future leaders.
She said working to get children to appreciate the need for correct behaviour was highly crucial for social re-engineering and it was therefore essential that all and sundry joined in the crusade to educate children to resist and desist from corrupt practices.
In a speech read for him, Mr Samuel Bannerman-Mensah, Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, said research had shown that corruption that took place in the school, particularly at the basic school level and which directly involved pupils, their teachers and parents, had the most detrimental impact on the children.
He said children were adversely affected by that type of corruption, adding that, it impinged on their opportunities in life and could directly impede them from having access to school or from being promoted.
Mr Bannerman-Mensah said in order to combat corruption in schools, there was the need to define clear norms and regulations for effective enforcement.
He also called for the adoption of transparent procedures within an explicit policy framework that would specify stakeholder roles and responsibilities.