Youth Against Corruption: GRACE Initiative Impact in the MENA Region

MENA Region - 14 March 2024 

In 2023, around 15 percent of the world’s population was 15 to 24 years old. Corruption can have a significant impact on their lives, affecting their professional careers and impeding access to basic services, including healthcare and education.Not including youth – the stakeholders who are often impacted most by these decisions – in strategies and policies to prevent and fight corruption is “unfair.” Youth represent society's future leaders and influencers, whose values and actions today will shape the integrity of tomorrow's governance systems.  

UNODC launched the Global Resource for Anti-Corruption Education and Youth Empowerment (GRACE) initiative to provide youth with the knowledge and tools needed to counter corruption. Through strong partnerships with government entities, civil society organizations, and international stakeholders across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the initiative seeks to create a comprehensive anti-corruption network.  

GRACE works to strengthen educational institutions' capacities to integrate anti-corruption education into their curriculum and encourage active youth participation in anti-corruption efforts.To this end, the GRACE initiative operates on three fundamental pillars to counter corruption comprehensively: primary and secondary education, academia and research, and youth empowerment. It focuses on strengthening educational institutions to instill values of integrity and ethics early on, supports university lecturers and research on corruption-related topics to inform policies and actions, and finally fosters meaningful youth participation in anti-corruption efforts.  

Contextualizing GRACE Modules for Anti-Corruption Education in MENA 

In collaboration with anti-corruption authorities and universities, UNODC has embarked on a tailored journey to support youth by enhancing their capacities and skills to counter corruption and promote integrity. Within this initiative, UNODC contextualizes three pivotal GRACE modules, which delve into "Corruption and its effects," "Good Governance," and "Corruption and the Private Sector."  

Through a participatory approach, GRACE involves youth in constructing the modules and fosters a sense of ownership and accountability among the younger generation as their voices are heard and valued in shaping anti-corruption efforts. Moreover, this resulted in comprehensive training materials localized to the diverse contexts of MENA countries, ensuring that anti-corruption modules are relevant, innovative, and reflective of the evolving challenges faced by young people in the region, thereby enhancing the effectiveness and sustainability of these efforts.  

Building Integrity and Accountability in Egypt and Libya  

UNODC, in collaboration with counterparts in Egypt and Libya, implemented several Training of Trainers (ToT) to promote ethical decision-makingamong professors and students. Through creative interactive materials, extra-curricular modalities, simulations, and case studies, the ToTs aimed to deepen participants' understanding of corruption consequences, emphasize ethical behavior, and equip them with the skills to counter corruption and foster integrity and accountability in future professionals across sectors. 

In Egypt, the activities were in partnership with the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESR) and engaged over 26 lecturers and professors hailing from 13 diverse faculties across 9 private and public universities situated in 7 different governorates throughout Egypt. The programme covered curriculum development, instructional methods, and assessment techniques and received support and resources from MoHESR and ACA, ensuring a seamless and effective implementation process.The goal was not only to teach the modules but to meticulously craft working plans for imparting the acquired knowledge to students in their respective universities. With a target of training 30 students at each university, the training is expected to benefit a total of 270 students by the end of 2024. 

On a similar front, UNODC and the Libyan Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESR) worked with 22 professors from 10 Libyan universities, focusing on Anti-Corruption and Integrity modules. Throughout the collaboration, professors gained the necessary knowledge and developed action plans for implementation in their universities. 

Moreover, UNODC facilitated a study visit for the Libyan Ministry of Education to the Kuwaiti Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) and Kuwaiti Ministry of Education. This study visit aimed to inform an action plan dedicated to promoting integrity and ethical culture within the Libyan Ministry of Education and schools nationwide. In the upcoming months, UNODC will actively collaborate with the Libyan Ministry of Education to translate strategic objectives into actionable initiatives, thereby working towards the advancement of anti-corruption and integrity efforts. 

With an initial focus on 500 students in Egypt and Libya, the GRACE initiative holds immense potential in equipping participants with skills to apply integrity and anti-corruption principles to their careers and daily lives. By fostering critical thinking, participants can effectively identify and mitigate corruption risks in real-world scenarios. Supported by valuable development partners and projects, including the EU-funded "Building Libya's National Capacity to Prevent and Combat Corruption and Money Laundering" and the Siemens-funded "Global Action for Business Integrity" project, these initiatives bridge the gap between theory and practice in anti-corruption efforts, fostering a transparent and ethical society.  

For more information:  

Learn more about the GRACE initiative here.