By: Kadijatu Jalloh, Mass Communication Student, Central University, Mile 91 (Intern)
In the journey towards a corrupt-free Sierra Leone, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) recognizes the indispensable role of the nation's vibrant and ambitious youth. With a forward-thinking approach, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) actively engages young people in the fight against corruption, aiming to nurture a generation of crusaders who will stand against this menace. Empowering the youth with the sufficient knowledge and consciousness, the ACC creates a powerful force for change, shaping a brighter future for the country.
This article will explore the various ways in which the ACC is engaging young people and the significant impact of their involvement in the fight against corruption.
To set the stage, it is essential to define corruption. This immoral practice encompasses the abuse of public office for personal gain, embezzlement, bribery, and other illicit activities that hinder societal progress and development. Youth, as defined by the United Nations, are individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 years. In Sierra Leone, this vibrant demographic group represents a significant portion of the population, making them essential agents of change and progress. Young people, the future leaders, need to grasp the gravity of corruption's consequences on their lives and their nation's prosperity.
The impact of corruption on the youth is profound; it stunts personal growth, hinders educational opportunities, and perpetuates cycle of poverty. Additionally, young people growing up in a corrupt environment are at risk of viewing corruption as a norm, leading to a lack of faith in public institutions. Recognizing this, the ACC has undertaken various efforts to equip young minds with the right knowledge and tools to actively combat corruption.
The Commission believes in the adage "catch them young." Thus, the Commission has organized dozens of Meet the Schools Campaign aimed at educating school-going children about the perils of corruption and how it affects society. By targeting children at a young age, most importantly secondary school pupils, the ACC instills in them values of integrity and ethical conduct, countering the ingrained notion that corruption is a societal norm.
Beyond schools, the Commission partners with youth organizations such as the Zero Corruption Campaign and the Children and Youth Awareness Forum. These partnerships foster a sense of community and enable young people to participate actively in the fight against corruption.
Additionally, Accountability Now Clubs have been established in Universities acting as mini versions of Anti-Corruption Commission in tertiary institutions. By engaging fellow students and lecturers, these clubs conduct outreach programmes on campus, encouraging a broader understanding of corruption-related issues among students.
Furthermore, the ACC leverages on talent shows held on the International Corruption Day on the 9th December to empower the youth in showcasing their God-given talents by creating anti-corruption messages through art, poetry, painting, sculpture, etc. Through these, young participants convey powerful anti-corruption messages that resonate with their peers and inspire collective action against corruption.
Radio and television engagements also provide a platform for the youth to voice their concerns and ideas in the fight against corruption. By participating in panel discussions and writing articles, young people's messages carry weight and are taken seriously by their peers, sparking a wave of positive change.
The Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019 outlines the Commission's role and responsibilities in combating corruption. As the Commission carries out its mandate, the youth are at the center of its efforts. Having a young vibrant Commissioner, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq., a mentor to many young people, this has seen many young people finding inspiration and motivation to actively engage in the fight against corruption.
Empowering the youth in the fight against corruption is a cornerstone of the ACC's Strategy in Sierra Leone.
Accordingly, the ACC has successfully changed the perception of corruption among young people, through educational campaigns, partnerships with youth organizations, talent shows, and media engagements it has organized and supported.
With the youth actively involved in the campaign against corruption, there is hope for a brighter future for Sierra Leone, where integrity prevails, and corruption becomes a relic of the past.