Introduction of Anticorruption Education in Bulgarian Secondary Schools BOL - 2005/6/24
The Coalition 2000 initiative (www.anticorruption.bg) was launched in 1998 with the aim to counteract corruption in Bulgarian society through a process of co-operation among NGOs, governmental institutions and citizens. In 2003, education was identified by the Corruption Monitoring System of Coalition 2000 as a corruption-susceptible area. University professors and school teachers were consistently rated by the general public in the top five most corrupt professions in Bulgaria.
Type and extent of policy change
The policy change that was achieved as a result of the joint efforts of Coalition 2000 and its partners - governmental institutions, universities and public schools, and nongovernmental organisations and media - was the introduction of Anticorruption classes in the official curricula of the Bulgarian secondary schools in the fall of 2004.
Some thoughts on the explanation of the policy change
The political context
Anticorruption education was a pertinent issue to work on in 2003 and 2004, since a further and more effective development of the educational reform in the country was on the agenda, including the adoption of the Strategy for Development of the Secondary Education in Bulgaria, which put a special emphasis on the role of civic education in Bulgarian schools. Furthermore, in the 2004-2005 Program for the Implementation of the National Anticorruption Strategy, the Bulgarian government defined as one of its priority areas the cooperation with the civil society for the introduction of anticorruption education as a separate subject in the Bulgarian schooling system.
Other local organisations and actors that worked in cooperation or parallel to Coalition 2000’ network towards implementing anticorruption measures and legislature in the period 2003 - 2004 included: the governmental Anticorruption Commission, the parliamentary Anticorruption Committee, and the Bulgarian branch of Transparency International.
However, most of these actors did not or could not cooperate with others and did not seek feedback about the success of the implemented anticorruption measures, nor did they publicise much their activities to the general public and business organisations.
Enhancing civic and anticorruption education in the Bulgarian schooling system was also in line with the national priorities set forth with respect to the pending accession of the country to the European Union. The year 2005 was announced as the Year of Democratic Citizenship through Education by the Council of Europe, therefore, anticorruption education clearly fell into the priorities of the Bulgarian Ministry of Science and Education. Other initiatives that had an impact in shaping the policy process were the Open Government Initiative Project (OGI), and major donor programs in Bulgaria, including the Democracy commission at the US Embassy in Bulgaria, Open Society Foundation and EU Phare program.
The nature of research-based evidence
The Corruption Monitoring System (CMS) and the Media Monitoring System (MMS) of Coalition 2000 consist of a set of quantitative and qualitative monitoring instruments that generate information about the structure and dynamics of corrupt behaviour, the scope and dynamics of corruption related attitudes, assessments and expectations of the general public, of public sector officials, and of specific social and professional groups. The corruption perception indexes produced by the CMS are produced twice per year and widely publicised in the Bulgarian media and accepted by the policy-makers and the society as a trustworthy source of information. The periodic reports and case-studies produced by MMS evaluate how the media presents specific corruption-related issues to the society. The data provided by this mechanism was successfully used to initiate and produce a specific policy change in the area of civic and anticorruption education in the secondary school system in Bulgaria.
The ways CSOs tried to affect policy change (strategy and activities)
Coalition 2000 and its partners applied quite a versatile and multidisciplinary approach in devising and implementing anticorruption activities. Moreover, in all those activities it sought publicity and cooperation with all the major actors in the country: members of the governmental and parliamentary committees and ministries, university professors and NGO and donor community experts became members of its Steering Committee and in almost all working groups within the Coalition such as: grey economy, anticorruption education, legal reform, sociological surveys, small grants, etc.
To support all the governmental efforts in the area of anticorruption education, in 2003 and 2004, Coalition 2000, in cooperation with partner NGOs from all over the country, developed and tested a set of instruments for instruction (textbooks, on-line teaching and study materials, manuals, teaching programs), both at the university and secondary school level.
These experiences demonstrated to public institutions the benefits of the introduction of such a topic in the civic education curricula of the secondary and higher education systems. Furthermore, it provided evidence of action to the Ministry of Education and Science about the usefulness of new programs for anticorruption classes and ready-made teaching materials to support the introduction of such classes under the form of handbooks, electronic manuals and survey results.
This case demonstrates a very fruitful and mutually beneficial partnership between civil society organisations (CSOs), the private sector and governmental institutions, where CSOs stepped in to support the governmental efforts in a policy change initiative.
CSOs provided background information, where it was lacking or insufficient.
CSOs supported the governmental institutions in the design and implementation of practical tools to effect the intended policy change (e.g. pre-testing tools and methods).
The introduction of anticorruption education was a result of the activities and joint efforts of the broad network of Coalition 2000's partner NGOs. It was these partnerships that gained legitimacy and recognition by institutions and authorities and credibility among the media, general public and donor community.
The efforts of a broader alliance of NGOs did not go unnoticed by the donor and international community, which also recognised the Coalition as a successful model for public-private partnership in the fight against corruption.
Nataliya Petrova Dimitrova for the Oversease Development Institute