How do you combat corruption in a country infiltrated by it at every level? As President Asif Ali Zardari stands accused of depositing millions in kickbacks into Swiss bank accounts, Transparency International has focused its fight on a different demographic: schoolchildren. By inviting students to tackle corruption through art, the organization hopes to stop the cycle of fraud before it starts. The following posters were some of the winners in the contest.
This poster features a well-fed "creature of corruption" scaring off the principles of society. The artist, Aneeta Devnani of The City School Darakhshan Campus, won second place out of 1,100 submissions in the Transparency International Pakistan sixth children's poster painting contest.
Money tips the scales in favor of those who have it, this poster suggests. Aqsa Hakeem Baloch of The City School PAF Chapters won first place of the entries in the school.
This poster depicts taxes and bills paid by working people lining the pockets of Pakistan's elite. Zoya Rehman of Foundation Public School Gulshan-E-Iqbal School won first place in the school for this entry.
Cleverly, Sabina Khan used a campfire to suggest that people from all walks of society in Pakistan can get sucked into corruption. This poster won third place at The Citizens Foundation Southwest Region, Saeedabad Vitol II school.
Citizens salute money instead of the national flag. The poster suggests they value wealth over national pride. The artist, Mohsin Ahmed Abbasi of Pakistan Public GBSS Malir school, won second place in the school.
This poster mirrors Transparency International Pakistan's sentiments. Saad Rashid, executive director of the organization, hopes educating children about the dangers of corruption will help break the cycle. Hiba Almani of The City School Jinnah Campus won first place from among the school's entries.
A rogue driver greases the palm of a traffic cop while a beggar cries foul.
The spread of corruption across society is reflected. "No money, no job," reads a sign. Mariam Tariq of Beaconhouse School System, BHS Allama Iqbal Town in Lahore won second place in the school for this poster.
"What is corruption? I think this is corruption," says the young girl in this poster as she views scenes of bribery and fraud. Raheela Abid of Beaconhouse School System BHS Allama Iqbal Town won third place in the school.
"Save Pakistan. Stop corruption," this poster reads. Its creator calls upon society's leaders to resist the temptations of bribes and underhanded deals. Ramsha of The City School Nawabshah won second place in the school.
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The collection reveals young people who are cynical beyond their years. Their visions of corruption take the form of a cheetah, a campfire and a green-faced witch. The paintings depict a powerful force that affects schools, police, judges and families. "Today people respect money more than their national flag," a translation of one poster reads.
Societal corruption leaves many children feeling helpless and depressed at an early age, Transparency International-Pakistan's executive director Saad Rashid explained via e-mail:
“Students get dejected when they are unable to get a job after completion of studies for a hard-earned degree,” he wrote. “The situation becomes worse when they see their colleagues getting jobs through contacts or bribery. They then conclude that without corruption they cannot get anywhere ... That there is no way out of this mess.”
By encouraging young people to tackle the issue creatively, Transparency International aims to help them productively channel these feelings. You can find more stories about young people in Pakistan through NPR’s Grand Trunk Road project.