Integrity Action runs two programmes: Integrity Education (IE) and Integrity Building (IB). For several years, the programmes were completely separate – Integrity Education spread integrity-related training through several hundred universities, while Integrity Building worked with NGOs and CSOs to encourage youth and community members to practice integrity through monitoring the delivery of public projects and services.
Over the last two years, however, we have been collaborating. Two years ago, each programme had by then developed professional, useful and interesting materials in various forms. We began to train together, and through that we learned how important and productive collaboration is:
Competition only takes you so far. So many schools, universities, NGOs, CSOs and other organisations push competition among their respective ‘constituents’ to see who’s better. Yes, many people like to compete. Striving to win motivates them. Many of us want to show what we know and what we do ‘best’.
Collaboration enriches the discussion. But, I have to admit – I am a fan of collaboration. I think it’s more fun to work together with others and see how each person comes up with different ideas and different ways of looking at challenges and problems. Ideas are generated by people whose thought processes are influenced by their individual cultures, experiences, interests, attitudes, talents, etc.
Diverse work groups produce better results. Groups that include people with a combination of backgrounds, ethnicity, age, culture, professional field, talents, etc, have been shown to produce better and more creative solutions to problems. They usually generate a number of options for solving a problem, which provides a wider variety of solutions to choose from.
Integrity Action definitely has two programmes: ‘IE with IB’, and ‘IB with IE’. I am in charge of training through Integrity Education that includes delving deeply into what integrity is and what it isn’t, how procedures, rules and laws aren’t sufficient for integrity, how to identify integrity and ethical challenges (it’s not always as easy as you think), and they learn the basics of the what, how and why of monitoring public projects so that they can act with and demand integrity from those around us. Then students can be trained to monitor their universities or their schools, or go into the community to learn how to monitor public projects.
Integrity Building (community integrity building, to be exact) is the more practical side of integrity. My colleagues working on community integrity building weave some integrity education throughout their trainings, and help learners understand why citizens should get engaged in their communities (to realise their rights), how to become part of a movement around the world that gets people contributing directly to improving their society (by monitoring how their tax dollars are spent), and how to ensure problems are fixed (by giving feedback and helping to formulate solutions to the problems they identify). These folks love the field work, but they also ask to learn more about integrity and how to improve governance and advocate for their rights.
To strengthen the work and bring various stakeholders together, we form Joint Working Groups, Alliances, Integrity Clubs, and other means of working together for the best results. Working collaboratively with NGO/CSO/institutional staff, students, community members, project implementers, government officials, religious leaders, and others builds trust. Whether it’s ‘IE with IB’ or ‘IB with IE’, it’s a win-win!
Programme Director, Integrity Education Network