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Timor-Leste: Using innovative tools to combat corruption

March 11, 2014
Est. Reading: 2 minutes
From left to right: Eduardo Flores-Trejo, Chief of Mission, FOTI Timor-Leste Programme, Dulce de Jesus Soares, Vice-Minister of Primary Education, and Joao Boavida, CEPAD Executive Director, meeting at CEPAD to make final arrangements for distribution of the story book and to discuss teacher training prospects. Photo credit: CEPAD

Corruption remains a critical barrier to achieving sustainable peace in Timor-Leste. As revealed in Transparency International's 2013 Corruption Perception Index, Timor-Leste scored just 30 points out of 100, indicating the high level of perceived corruption in the country's public service

In November 2012, CEPAD and FOTI Timor-Leste (funded by Millennium Challenge Corporation and USAID) formed a highly productive partnership to combat corruption. Together, the two organizations have planned and executed an innovative anti-corruption civic education campaign, taking root from the rural areas of Timor-Leste, right up to the Ministry of Education.
Two televised debates were produced in 2013, moderated by CEPAD's Executive Director, which saw high-level decision-makers shed light on causes, impacts and possible remedies for corruption. These debates attracted a large number of viewers and sparked new and more informed discussion among citizens.

A civic education package

A package of civic education materials ranging through different forms of media was produced and included a children's story book, a CD album, a documentary film, a series of radio interviews, an anti-corruption action manual, and brochure on corruption, collusion and nepotism. The teams launched the civic education campaign in the capital Dili, in September 2013 before taking the campaign on the road through three regions of the country. The team used the existing infrastructure of CEPAD's Peace Houses to disseminate the materials. These events have helped to build action networks to inform, educate and encourage citizens at all levels to understand, identify and denounce corruption.

64,000 books raising awareness of corruption distributed

The campaign reached a significant new milestone in February 2014 when the Ministry of Education agreed to incorporate the story-book, Baino & Binoi, into the national curriculum in Timor-Leste. The book depicts the story of two children who have ambitions to become pilots and fly planes to faraway places. As they grow up, the female character, Binoi, enrolls to study and works hard to get her qualification. The male character, Baino, is reluctant to put in the hard work and attempts to achieve his goal using first corruption, then nepotism and then collusion. Failing at every turn, he eventually heeds the advice of his friend Binoi and decides to pursue his dream the right way. Although appealing to a younger audience, the book outlines clear definitions and examples of corruption and will provoke conversations at all levels. Sixty-four thousand copies of the book, which is written in Tetum, the local language and has been illustrated by a local artists' cooperative, Gembel, have now been printed and are being distributed to every student in grades 5 and 6 across the country.

CEPAD receives appreciation award

Earlier this month, Eduardo Flores-Trejo, Chief of Party of the FOTI Timor-Leste Programme, presented CEPAD with an appreciation award, on behalf of USAID and MCC, in recognition of outstanding efforts to promote accountability and curb corruption in Timor-Leste. Although the FOTI Programme will draw to a close at the end of March, the strong foundation it has built will allow effective anti-corruption efforts to continue into the future.