Civics and communication to change corrupt politician perception - Green
Though the introduction of civics at the various educational levels should help to change the widespread youth perception that politicians are corrupt, more effective communication on the part of politicians is also critical, said Floyd Green, minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
"The things we do, we have to publicise them more. We must constantly communicate to the people what is to be done and what can or can't be done so that misconceptions aren't allowed to continue," Green told The Gleaner while responding to the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) which saw politicians being ranked as having the lowest integrity among a group of professionals.
"It helps a lot when you can provide more information so people know, for example, how the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is spent, the projects that were ran and how it was administered. In all we do, we have to ensure that we're fair, just and working in the benefit of the people and this perception that purveys the country will change. Strong systems of accountability and transparency are also critical."
The study, titled 'Youth and Corruption in Jamaica', represents the views of 1,262 youngsters, ranging between the ages 10-19 years.
Speaking from the education perspective, Green underscored the importance of civics to make students and the public alike, more knowledgeable as to the expectations of the Government and the role of citizens.
"Culturally, some of the expectations that many have built up over time, may not accord with what is proper governance practises. Civics is woven into the National Standards Curriculum (NSC), in instances as a discrete element and sometimes as a separate subject to remedy this. Also, the reconvened National Values and Attitudes Committee has been meeting in earnest and expects to start consultation on a very wide scale to put together a new values and attitudes programme, to be run throughout our school systems and throughout our communities to ensure that citizens also have strong values, and moral ethics."
While noting that there have been several bad political examples across the history, Green implored parents not to dissuade children of honest character from joining the political arena, stating: "In order for us to rewrite that history, we have to encourage the best among us to get involved at the political level."