Young people aged 18 to 34 are more likely to pay a bribe than people aged 55 or over, according to the findings by Transparency International in the 10th edition of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB)-Africa. The report also revealed that corruption is a widespread problem in many African countries and that it has a pronounced negative impact on governance and service delivery.  

A significant number of this demographic constitutes current students or recent graduates. While there may be many ways to combat corruption, one way to do it is to inspire ethical values at higher education institutions (HEIs). HEIs play a crucial role in training the next generation of leaders in Africa. By teaching ethical values at higher education institutions, we can ensure that future leaders build capacity to make ethical decisions, act with integrity, and model values-driven leadership in society. 

Increasingly, across the continent, several institutions are driving initiatives aimed at helping youth, particularly in college, build awareness and capacity to combat corruption. 

In 2023, Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) – a body mandated by the Kenyan government to combat corruption, launched Integrity Clubs to foster ethical values and action in HEIs.  “There is a need for societal support to inspire and develop a generation that upholds integrity,” shared EACC interim chairperson Monica Muiru. “It is on the basis that a proper support system, mentorship, and modeling is required from teachers and leaders of learning institutions. I encourage all to step up and be part of the solution to the challenges that we face as a society.” 

In 2021, under the Education Collaborative’s Mentorship and Exemplary Development program, two HEIs, Kibi Presbyterian College of Education (KPCE) and Palm Institute, took steps to strengthen integrity and leadership structures within their respective institutions through an incorporating honor system. Instituted by Ashesi University in 2007, the honor system sets the stage for a high-trust community where people hold one another responsible for doing the right thing. The code effectively puts students in charge of their ethical posture and the reputation of their alma mater.

KPCE students participate in mentorship and development workshop at Ashesi University

One of the key areas the honor system applies is in unproctored examination where students are encouraged to hold one another responsible for being ethical. Teaching ethical values at universities is a crucial step in the fight against corruption in Africa. Educating future leaders in these values can create a culture of integrity, accountability, and good governance that is essential for the continent’s development. It is a long-term solution that can potentially make a real difference in the future of Africa. 

It is paramount for universities and other institutions in the higher education sector to prioritize ethics and integrity in their curriculum and out of class, as measure toward realizing an ethical citizenry on the continent. The Education Collaborative provides mentorship and support for institutions to help them establish systems of ethics and leadership contextualized to their institutions. Institutions enrolled in this program engage directly with a mentor institution at various levels to build frameworks for their needs. 

Find out more about Giving Voice to Values Africa, our capacity-building course aimed at taking ethical action and how your institution can get involved.