Corruption remains one of the major challenges Ukrainian students face in daily life. Some students claim they were forced to pay to get a passing grade in an exam, others say they had to pay double to secure a place in a dormitory. Students, however, are eager to break free from corrupt practices in Ukraine’s education system - they just need to learn how.
“What can we do in smaller cities, if any resistance to corruption could lead to expulsion?” students asked at meetings with the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine during the Students Against Corruption campaign in 2017-2018.
To give students a chance to meet like-minded peers from various regions and to equip them with effective tools to fight corruption, UNDP and NABU organized a two-day Students Against Corruption camp on 21-22 April in Kyiv, bringing together 24 students from all over Ukraine. These young people will also become Ukraine’s first anti-corruption youth ambassadors, whose mission will be to contribute to a wider discussion about consequences of corruption and hence bring about changes at the grassroots level.
“In view of the importance of the anti-corruption reform in Ukraine to improve individual well-being and community development, a crucial role is to raise public intolerance to corruption. Bringing students together for the camp, we wanted to show they are not alone in their intention to bring change and offered them tools and guidance,” said Diana Zubko, Transparency and Integrity Team Lead of UNDP in Ukraine.
“This camp is not only a great learning platform for students – it’s a unique opportunity to connect the most active young people who want to get rid of corruption,” said Svitlana Olifira, the press secretary of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, who was one of the camp’s lecturers.
“These young ambassadors are seeds for change to be spread across the country – and we’ll help them to be viable. Together with UNDP, we’ll support young people’s anti-corruption projects and engage students in various anti-corruption initiatives,” she said.
“During this two-day event I met 23 fellow thinkers. It’s a dream team that can make a change in Ukraine and far beyond. I believe that together we can transform Ukraine into a developed, corruption-free, and prosperous county,” Roksolana Khanas, one of the camp’s participants, wrote on her Facebook page.
The participants presented their anti-corruption project ideas at the Students Against Corruption camp, some of which will be supported by UNDP.
Twelve students were nominated as youth moderators for the upcoming anti-corruption events organized jointly by UNDP and NABU. In the summer, they are to meet up again to brainstorm ideas for the Anti-Corruption Opinion Festival, which is slated for September 2018.
“Our goal is to reduce the corruption tumour to an ordinary pimple,” says Artem Krivuliya, one of the youth anti-corruption ambassadors.
The camp is part of the year-long Students Against Corruption campaign, which was launched in March 2017 by NABU in partnership with UNDP. Over the past year, the team has visited 23 universities in 19 cities and has met with almost 4,000 students.