November 19th, 2010
11:58 AM GMT
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I am in Kenya filming Marketplace Africa. When I arrived here, the first thing I did was to turn on the television set in my hotel room and watch the local news.

KTV was running a story on how the Anti-Corruption Commission was planning to set up a “corruption curriculum” in Kenyan schools, where there would be a focus on “integrity studies.”

I was both amused and dismayed – what exactly are integrity studies?

According to quotes from the press conference, the Commission hopes to set up clubs – known as “Adili” – in all schools, to reach young primary school children, right up to university-level students. The idea is that more than 10 million children will “discuss moral and ethical choices and dilemmas which they encounter daily both in their personal and communal lives.”

Obviously, the intention is honorable. Kenya has high rates of corruption (according to Transparency International, only 19 countries in the world are perceived as more corrupt than Kenya) and so it seems the authorities hope that by teaching “integrity” to schoolchildren graft will lessen.

But reducing corruption in Kenya could be harder than simply teaching children “integrity.”

We filmed in Kibera slum, where more than one million people live, and many people I spoke to there say you can’t get through the month without paying a protection fee, a backhander for water or electricity, a property tax, and all sorts of other hidden “costs” associated with surviving in one of Africa’s biggest slums.

Children will learn, way before they get to school and have to sit through honesty lessons, that to make your way in the world, in a tough, poor society, you have to learn to work the system, maneuver and make deals. That’s the reality. Tough choices, indeed.

So my question is – how do you root out corruption when it is so endemic? Is the Kenyan Anti-Corruption Commission wasting its time? Or is this a clever way to instill “integrity” in future generations of government ministers or police officers?

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Eric

    It is disheartening to look at the state of affairs in Kenya. Corruption has taken such deep root. Poor people engage in corruption as a way of surviving where unemployment is on the rise. The rich are only getting richer. Unfortunately corruption, nepotism, tribalism is in the private sector, the government and the slums. Its all over. It is also very deeply rooted.

    The KACC is trying to gradually combat corruption. I will not say they are completely wasting their time. The most that may happen is whistle blowing and the exposure of corrupt individuals. If people are not tried and locked up for impunity and corruption there is really no point in teaching these children about integrity. Essentially, they will continue to do where the leaders before did.They will know it is wrong to be corrupt theoretically, but they will not practice what was preached to them.

    November 19, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
  2. jaributest

    Btw, it was recently revealed and to those in the know, it is known that Kibera does not have a million people living there – it most likely quite a bit less. It's nice to quote figures that are difficult to verify but when they are negative figures then perhaps more care should be taken especially when they affect a lot of people.

    November 19, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  3. Ed Makauvich

    Corruption on Kenya is ahrd nut to crack.... but i wish them all the best

    November 20, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
  4. Chineme Okafor

    I think its a worthy step to be considered, in that the endemic level of corruption in Africa is seemingly been extended to the younger generation who are the future of the continent. It is better to imagine what becomes of a continent with millions of corrupt young generation.

    November 20, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  5. Kunal

    It can help alot, there are just a few other problems, how well is it designed, will leaders of the future adhere to it,

    it has not worked in the west, (the recession, war(iraq), stock market's insider trading...) are all issues to do with corruption, If America has not achieved it in 300yrs there is no way Kenya is going to.

    November 20, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  6. Anne

    could work, but only in the long term. But the question is " What exactly does an Integrity class entail?" we can only comment once we know the content.

    November 22, 2010 at 7:32 am |

    Integrity is a learned behavior. Europe did not use Integrity ,when they arrived in Africa,now Africans must unlearn taught behavior with integrity.

    November 22, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  8. david lulasa AKA daudee mwanzi

    they ought to recognize sunday or saturdays studies for christians and friday madrassa studies for muslims...infact,i think there is IRE and CRE.hindus prayer day should also be recognized as a classing day..or whatever

    November 22, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  9. wams

    to think of it i don't think Kenya is badly off.........think we are better off than most of the other countries in the world.
    just do your thing and you are good to go in kenya........
    .I live in Kibera n its one of the best places to be but the problem there is that people dont want to work as they want hand out which make the problem there bigger

    November 22, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  10. Eric kiokoh

    Nothing which is wrong with Kenya cannot be cured with what is right in Kenya. 'Integrity' lessons are not the best choice, people can only fear this vice by seeing severe consequences to the culprits and also improving surveillance at corrupt hot spots. Goverments commitment to scrap out corruption is the way foward without goverments support 'integrity' lessons are a waste of time and money.

    November 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  11. Jediel Kanamba( Perth, western Australia)

    There are many reasons to believe this step is right and headed in the right direction.Besides thanking CNN for focussing on the positives regarding various happenings in Kenya and Africa in general in a few of their stories,it vital to mention that a nations destiny can be changed by influencing the way of thinking of it's young population.This Agenda is deemed to succeed as its design will function within the family- units of the society.The way of changing a country is by introducing an idea to the family through education.Schools are the perfect means for growing and enhancing good values.Am impressed to see the efforts Kenya is making to make things right and can only appeal much more to the Media to keep supporting such efforts.

    November 22, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
  12. Nzomo

    Rooting out corruption to zero is a long call for Kenya as of now but we can reduce the levels of corruption as it stands.....its blatant.

    We are always taught that killing is wrong from a young age and the subject is heavily revisited in the religious studies as well as the the sentences given out to convicted murderers.....maybe if we use the same strategy for corruption, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Correction about the population of kibera.....the population is 170,070 as opposed to over 1 million.

    November 22, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  13. Keke

    Kenya is on rise. Once Ocambo is done with killers Lumumba will lock all corrupt individuals. There are several good things going on in Kenya. Ruto is out, Watengula too, Uhuru is waiting for Ocambo to name him and list continues.

    November 23, 2010 at 3:32 am |
  14. Everlyn M.

    Borrowing from the bible--train a child the way they should go and will never forget when they grow old.Instilling the key lessons to young people will enable us build a generation that is well informed!

    November 23, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  15. Rachel

    Robyn... if corruption is so endemic as you put it and then people try to do something about it...maybe in the hope that not soon but after a while the levels will go down, what is the problem with that?

    i live in Dubai currently and have been to Europe and America. Trust me, Kenya is not that bad off when it comes to backhanders and other things that you mentioned.

    One thing i do know is that Chronic negativity of Kenya and Africa as a whole all the time, will not benefit it.

    And do get your facts right.. Kibera is a large slum but population is not over 1 million.

    November 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  16. Paulo

    Kenya cannot be compared to any country in the world because the problems in Kenya are unique to Kenya, The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) this year has done a great job in fighting corruption. Born and raised in Kenya I can attest to the fact that this is the first time high ranking officials i.e. Minister for Foreign affairs, Nairobi Mayor have been forced to resign or been arrested for corruption related cases.

    The above measure though addressed with skepticism by the author of this article is by far the best way to reverse corruption in the long run. If you consider something like education, and its importance before the 80s Kenya did not place much stock in educating anyone let alone the ladies as it was considered a waste of time. fast forward 20years and it boasts the highest number of college graduates in Africa both male and female.

    The point I seem to be laboring to put across is that your perception of the situation is bound to be off because like it or not a complete understanding of corruption , its roots, causes,effects, prevention and eradication cannot be derived from flawed news reports e.g. population of Kibera and a segment on a local news update but rather experience or a long term in depth study on the vice.

    Integrity taught in schools should work in the long run as the present government seems to be intent or rooting it out

    November 23, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  17. uche egbunonu

    To be able to think up a solution, is a part to solving the problem.
    am happy that concerned leadership is fighting corruption frm
    the scratch. Children they say are the leaders of tomorrow. That's a good

    November 23, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  18. joydott

    good step. n judging from the commendable job our ant-corruption commission has done this year, we have made a step foward against corruption.

    charity begins at home,which can also mean schools. i believe the programme is a positive move which in the long run will tremendously change the state of affairs in kenya.

    November 24, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  19. Winnie

    These classes should be for adults, not students and certainly not pupils. Children do not coin the vice on their own, they learn from adults. The cancer should be cut right at the root, not the branch. Give adults (MPs, ministers, parents etc) intergrity classes and you wont have to teach their children the same, for they will automatically grow into it.

    November 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  20. Jack Robinson

    Perhaps a better route to take to end or curb corruption would be an overall boost in the quality of education aside from these "integrity classes". Children should be able to learn about integrity in a practical manner in history or english class by studying historical figures who changed the social or political or economic landscape with integrity and honor. Teach them that the reason they are in school is to go out and benefit society and the larger collective like some great people have done before them

    November 24, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  21. michaelngigi

    This startegy 'might just work'. A lot of effort however has to be put in to make sure the syllabus is taught as more of a lifestyle than theory. Our education system is sadly not designed to offer lifeskills. Corruption stems from poor education systems.

    November 25, 2010 at 7:54 am |
  22. Denis

    "I was both amused and dismayed – what exactly are integrity studies?" Wow, I don't see anything to be dismayed about. In any case the war against corruption MUST be won by changing peoples attitudes, and that starts right from the time a child can speak. The writer is generally biased in their reporting (Kibera has much less people than quoted) and you can basically touch the cynism in the story...Corruption, endemic or not will be rooted out, sooner or later..even the so called developed countries had endemic corruption at some point in their history..its just a matter of time coupled with concerted efforts of all kind and the same will happen in Kenya.

    November 26, 2010 at 6:48 am |
  23. Pepijn

    A reform of the KACC towards the way the EFCC in Nigeria used to operate might make a difference...independent organ (well, as fas as that goes) and the right not only to collect evidence but also to prosecute individuals. Surveys showed that while Nuhu Ribadu headed the EFCC public confidence in the possibility of combating corruption rose significantly, as well as the perception that corrupt behaviour is reprehensible rather than something to become acquinted with or to be good at.

    Too bad that Yar'adua decapitated the EFCC as soon as he came into office and got rid of Ribadu, for fears that it might prosecute officials from the former Obasanjo administration of whom large amounts of evidence had been collected but who enjoyed immunity while in office.

    The results the surveys showed were hopeful though.

    November 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  24. Nelliebora

    It is true what your saying because even before the kids start going to school there are lessons they learn at home.As they grow up,they tend to adapt to the kid of environment and lifestyle they see.I think something more serious has to be done at the home level rather than the schools!Cant teach an old dog new tricks!
    Mentality change is what we need in Kenya.We have to accept that a problem exists in our country then start looking at ways of solving the problems.Problems cant be solved by conducting boardroom meetings coz the educated no not the kind of problems people at the village face.You meet with a friend and tell him that putting on side bed slippers is like buying Cartepiller shoe is shocked!They need to go to the village and see the kind of life the citizens are living in and not collect taxes meant to boost the lifestyles of the citizen but increase their allowances and salaries!

    November 29, 2010 at 6:30 am |
  25. Kelechi

    The issue of corruption or the fight against corrupt practices should be a collective effort starting from the grass root without leaving any stone unturn. when i see the way our socalled leaders are lavishing our wealth and stealing our funds it makes me cry. infact to be honest all African countries should adopt the Chinese government system in terms of fighting corruption, all African countries should oppose death panalty for any corrupt government official. you can see how far China has gone in terms of development because they took this measure to fight corruption. African Nations its time for us to wake up and say no to corrupt practices. Thank you.

    November 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  26. Victor

    A very noble move, but I am curious what would be the measure for comparison, at least in order to point out role models to emulate. It seems every major personality (In politics and parts of the private sector) has had a brush with corruption. Not easy I should say, but also a move in the right direction.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:22 am |
  27. MG

    If you teach the youth how not to be corrupt, once they graduate from university and get jobs, they will learn how to be corrupt since the problem lies with those working in the government. Weed out corrupt official and take legal measures against them and people will learn, not teaching its demerits and doing nothing against its perpetrators.

    November 30, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  28. John m karanja

    i am a kenyan and live in kenya.i see some sense in the idea since it will instil descipline and integrity to the schooling is a better way of moulding responsible and accountable future leaders otherwise the issue of corruption will remain unresolved if we continue fighting from the top without curbing the future threats.

    November 30, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
  29. kenyan by birth

    it is recommendable that the education about integrity should be introduced in school. Our education systems are different from the one outside there. while i was in school, i learnt alot from my teachers and my parents. They taught me what is right and what is wrong.
    Kids put in practice what they are being taught/told.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  30. Gideon

    What abut social Ethics?I think curruption is all about ethical standards!

    December 3, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  31. A proud kenyan

    although corruption is deeply entrenched in the Kenyan society, we shouln't give up on trying to reverse the situation. Introducing intergrity studies in schools will be a big step forward, it will give room for debate on the problem and raise more awareness.

    December 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  32. makhanu marto

    whats with the picture? the headline was catchy- corruption" then the picture? but good job on starting the debate.

    December 9, 2010 at 12:56 am |
  33. Kunal

    what 1mn in kibera, noo nairobi has a population of 1m kibera is an area in nbi, kibera probably has 200,000 people in it.

    Ethical lessons and all, I dont know, its not that kenyans do not know how NOT to be corrupt, its just greed, I remember arguing with a lecturer in university, who told us to take an ethical quiz to teach us not to be corrup, and I told him that we all know what is right and wrong, its not that we dont, we are all just greedy.

    the key to solving corruption causes is by increasing salaries of civil servant, If those processing IDs Passports were paid reasonably well to afford good schooling got their children they wouldn't be corrupt, increasing police pay would make it harder for the average joe to corrupt him and so on....

    December 10, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  34. omondi ondiek

    integrity classes...just another term coined by astute Kenyans to fleece the West of the so called Development Aid.when will Africans stop drinking champagne on a beer's budget?!

    December 12, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
  35. 문동누

    I don't think of increasing salaries as the solution. Is it needeed? Maybe (it would depend on another factors including government expenditures and taxes.. it is just like another job) but definitely not the panacea.

    Integrity classes are an excellent long-term strategy if they do it well; but will be incomplete if they do not focus on the short term first and develop a systematic strategy. How? Well, People are opportunistic, and even if they know that something is wrong, if they have hungry and the chance to do it, they'll take it. Here is where we can see an very well correlation between bureaucracy and corruption. If they really want to make it right, they should avoid a big chain of people-interactions in order to fulfill procedures, payments or whatever.

    It also has to be very well communicated to the people, they have to understand that it is not easy, neither short-term,and that in the end they are building something not for them, but for their children.

    December 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  36. tom mzaliwa

    Is there sufficient government goodwill?

    To reduce corruption in Africa, do you start at the bottom?

    We need external intervention. Home grown solution have always hit a dead end – fueling corruption even to greater heights.

    We are being asked to focus on school going children! we have, also, yesterday, been requested to forget the past.........Where is 'purpose' in all these?

    December 13, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
  37. Malitinus

    Lets say for the time being that we are much better off here in Kenya than we were a few years ago?

    Those who want to compare us to other countries have their ideologies inside out. We have 42 tribes, the Great Rift Valley, the expansive Mara and the massive Mt. Kenya, Lake Victoria, access to the Indian Ocean and therefore the Pirates and we are generally happier. Bad things happen in both the East and the West and no one dares talk about them from a hotel room!

    and which station did this guy watch...I have not heard of KTV in Kenya.

    December 14, 2010 at 5:35 am |
  38. DAVID

    As kenyans try to fight corruption, foreigners and so called diplomats, do it in a very secretive manner for their meanin gain. How? Somebody like ranbagger has to intimidate youths in the ground level to taunt the good leadership just for him to stop them using the media for him to meet their target. We are tired on how america behaves on kenyan's issue! Don't they know we are an independent country. If we do away with them we will make if not no improvement will be met.

    December 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm |

    I would like to first congratulate CNN Correspondent...Robyn Curnow on a job well done in this article. Sencondly I would like to commend (KELECH) who posted this comment here. I strongly believe that ALL AFRICAN NATIONS ought to look copy this method as suggested by KELECHI. Read the below post:

    Kelechi November 29th, 2010 4:22 pm ET

    The issue of corruption or the fight against corrupt practices should be a collective effort starting from the grass root without leaving any stone unturn. when i see the way our socalled leaders are lavishing our wealth and stealing our funds it makes me cry. infact to be honest all African countries should adopt the Chinese government system in terms of fighting corruption, all African countries should oppose death panalty for any corrupt government official. you can see how far China has gone in terms of development because they took this measure to fight corruption. African Nations its time for us to wake up and say no to corrupt practices. Thank you.

    December 22, 2010 at 6:24 am |
  40. hamak

    corruption in Kenya is not a small thing as the word display it self.KACC is doing its best the all thing which its pulling it back is the lack of crocodile teeth which i hope as the new year comes it will be blessed to have them.The private sector also is corrupted but its a wise & sometime positive corruption to the economy unlike the public sector where the economy is affected to its fullest in terms of the lost revenue

    December 31, 2010 at 8:04 am |
  41. Tom Mboya

    Presently the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission is doing some commendable ground work in the war against graft. However as a Kenyan I will remain pessimistic if I do not see the conviction of some big fish (Political Leaders) soon.The scenario that we have been treated to of public servants stealing from public coffers then stepping aside only to be re-instated after things have cooled off is all too familiar. Plans by KACA of introducing intergrity studies in school are not in order but concrete examples should be set through speedy trails in special courts of individuals caught with their hands in pubilc coffers in contrast to the present norm of court mentions and indefinite adjournments of corruption related cases. As soon as we start seeing former ministers or even former vice presidents serving jail terms in our local prisons after being found guilty on corruption charges then there wont be any need for intergrity studies.

    December 31, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  42. morris

    Show me a corrupt free society/nation and then we can discuss about Kenya. The problem we have is a civil society that only cares less about this country who keep yapping for the dollars to continue flowing.

    December 31, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
  43. Jared

    One way to root out corruption is to stop monetary aid flows to countries, many of whom have become dependant on monetary aid. the reality in many countries is that the aid intended for development purposes ends up in pockets of government elites, with citizens seeing little to no benefit. alternative solutions to monetary aid must be implemnted in countries. over a trillion dollars of aid has gone to africa, with little results to show. we need to increase direct foreign investment, ensure property rights for african citizens, and ease trade regualtions, to name a few ideas of ways in which africa can integrate itself into the world economy. happy new year to all!

    December 31, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  44. CocoPie

    The UN and all others who are experts on Africa and it's problems decided years ago that Kibera is home to over 1 million people who live on less than a dollar aday. They also decided Kibera is one of the largest in the world – meaning largest in Africa.

    facts: Kibera has a little over 400k residents who make different dollars – meaning they make different wages and incomes in different ways.
    South Africa (is it in Africa?) has the biggest slum in Africa. India has the biggest and poorest slums int he world. It's also the poorest continent on earth.

    It helps to have facts straight. Teaching our children 'integrity studies' will not make Kenya less of a swamp of corruption.

    December 31, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  45. button and onclick

    Please, tell more in detail..

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    September 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  46. brown

    Despite the corruption levels in the country i believe things can change is harsh laws are implemented.Learn more about dealing with corruption through integrity in our books at

    June 19, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

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