Schools as places to fight graft
Paper Edition | Page: 6
The increasing incidence of high-profile graft cases implicating the country’s politicians and academics alike depicts a bleak picture of our society.
Both young and adult readers and viewers consume exhaustive media reportage about graft-related cases. The figures implicated, previously unknown to the public at large, are now no longer unfamiliar faces, as they have grabbed media attention and entered the spotlight like renowned celebrities.
Ironically, despite intense calls for combating the long-prevailed social ailment of corruption, the number of new, young and seemingly innocent people who succumb to corruption has increased, adding more names to the list of existing corruption suspects.
The case of Gayus H. Tambunan was still fresh in our minds when another junior taxman, Tommy Hindratno, was allegedly caught red-handed accepting a Rp 280 million (US$29,000) bribe from a businessman.
The recurrence systemic graft involving many of the country’s top officials and public figures will be catastrophic for the young generation, as older people are more likely to be emulated by younger people in their everyday life.
Exhorting young people to refrain from committing corruption and other disgraceful acts needs to be initiated in school as early as possible. This is because declaring a “war” against corruption should be carried out at the ideological level. Schools are the best place to start with.
Educational institutions have been proven to be triumphant for the inculcation of ideology for students, for either evil or noble purposes.
We have witnessed how an extremist ideology can be successfully implanted in university students, with many recruited to join extremist groups to conduct evil deeds.
Similarly, corruption, with its ideological stance, can only be countered by the imposition of an opposing ideology that can be reified through a “brainwashing” strategy using specifically-designed teaching materials and instructions.
Because corruption brings with it an extreme ideology, effective strategies needed to counter it must be equally extreme. The “brainwashing” strategy is certainly one that can potentially lead to students’ aversion to and hatred of the corruption mind-set.
Depending on the cognitive and linguistic maturity of the students, teaching materials and teaching strategies can vary, but must be aimed at the same goal — to cultivate an attitude of abhorrence or detestation of corruption.
The channeling of thoughts in a bid to campaign for anti-corruption education at schools should acknowledge the multimodalities of “brainwashing” to be efficacious, not necessarily through textbooks or prosaic formal classroom interaction.
Symbolisms, signs, imagination, graffiti, works of art and other products of popular culture are some of most effective channels that can be used as supplementary teaching materials, aside from textbooks. These channels are more socially-grounded and encourage a dialogic interaction. They also depict more lively action than the prescribed or normative classroom instruction and textbooks, which are detached and divorced from social engagement.
For young learners, for example, comic books with contextualized, educational content are far more meaningful and have immediate communicative value to exemplify disgraceful acts and consequences of corruptions than theory-loaded textbooks and instructions.
With rich illustrations, for instance, lampooning a corrupt official with hands handcuffed, comics send important messages to their readers that corruption is a shameful and disgraceful act which must be refrained from.
More importantly, all these channels have a relatively longer retention and transfer-of-learning rates. They also have a positive long-term memory effect for the students in the future.
The multimodalities of an anticorruption campaign are predicated on the assumption that since corruption is a chronic social ailment, the challenge of cultivating an attitude of abhorrence of corruption will not necessarily produce rational graduates, but will instead make graduates socially conscious intellectuals.
The key here is then how teachers can help students build critical awareness by assisting the latter to examine and even constantly interrogate the social reality they are experiencing through the above channels.
All the practical ideas proposed above can only be possible if teachers, as transformative intellectuals, (a phrase borrowed from critical educator Henry Giroux) are fully aware of their roles not only as models to be emulated by students in particular and by the society in general, but also ass educators who pave the students’ way to social change.
The writer is an associate professor at Atma Jaya Catholic University and chief editor of the Indonesian Journal of English Language Teaching.