Ljubljana – An integrity project has been launched to mark International Anti-Corruption Day, with President Borut Pahor noting at the event that raising awareness and education on fighting corruption and strengthening integrity was key to boosting trust in society. Other speakers also called for greater integrity at all levels of education.
To mark the international day, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption presented the project Integrity: A Common Goal of Generations, whose main purpose is strengthening integrity through all levels of the educational system and, consequently, in society in general.
The project has been endorsed among others by President Borut Pahor, who said in his video-address at Wednesday’s event that corruption did not only hamper economic development, but also eroded social justice and the rule of law.
Pahor assessed that the situation regarding corruption risks in Slovenia is not great despite certain positive shifts, and that open conversations needed to be conducted about this.
This assessment means that general distrust in political and judicial institutions is deepening, so it is of key importance that individuals and representatives of institutions do everything in their power to raise awareness, educate and train people for fighting corruption and strengthening integrity, he added.
Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič said that, by establishing a special body for combatting corruption, Slovenia had put the value of integrity very high on its value scale. But she added that sensibility of the society to integrity has died out recently.
The perception of what is right and what is wrong also depends much on the individual, so young people should be worked with in this respect. “We are in for a long journey before integrity becomes not only a term standing high on the scale of our value system, but our internalised behaviour.”
The education function of the anti-graft watchdog is also recognised by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. Minister Simona Kustec said that the ministry’s “social responsibility is to support voices against corruption.”
For this reason, the ministry, the National Education Institute and the Ljubljana faculties of education and of arts are signing a cooperation agreement with the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption.
Kustec believes that many other institutes and institutions will join in, as “positive and true values need to be cherished from childhood.”
Commission president Robert Šumi said that the project was based on a new vision in which a greater emphasis was put on prevention, with activities focused on creating conditions, environment and society in which corruption would be completely unacceptable.
While the most senior representatives of the state are expected to possess the highest level of integrity, “integrity of all of us is important, as integrity of society depends on integrity of individuals,” said Šumi.
According to him, the right path to such society is teaching people on the concepts of integrity, ethics and morality from the earliest age.
In an online panel debate that followed the presentation, National Education Institute director Vinko Logaj said that educational institutions needed clear rules that would also cover ethical behaviour at all levels.
This would allow a systematic approach in the coming years to training of head teachers and creating plans for achieving higher levels of integrity of employees, as well as improving teachers’ skills for improving integrity of students, he added.
Janez Vogrinc, the dean of the Ljubljana Faculty of Education, said that topics related to integrity had to be included in the curriculum in a didactically appropriate way, including conversations, project and group work and creation of posters.
Miha Lovšin of the Education Development and Quality Office added that teachers needed to set an example also outside the educational institutions and that the system should appropriately reward such conduct.
Ljubljana Faculty of Arts Dean Roman Kuhar admitted that integrity-related content was not featured prominently at the faculty, while there are possibilities to include such content in programmes, and to train future teachers in this regard.
Simon Slokan of the Inspectorate of Education and Sport said that a very important step would be made once people realise that social responsibility and integrity was the fundamental postulate in the social system.