Building Future Leaders
Corruption is devastating to any economy, democracy, and the natural environment in which citizens survive. Kenya has been ranked among the top 10 most corrupt countries in recent years (PwC survey, 2016), and in 2016 the Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission reported that Kenya loses a third of its state budget, USD 6 billion, to corruption every year. This is unacceptable. In short, corruption costs lives, freedom, health, and money. Since 1956, Kenya has worked on anti-corruption legislation and still has a long way to go. Anti-corruption efforts have been frustrated and are generally ineffective, and therefore new strategies for addressing it are needed. The Wangari Maathai Foundation’s (WMF) unique approach is based on the fact that a major root cause of corruption in Kenya is the erosion of societal values. A values-based education program that targets youth and children in early education programs would, therefore, be the beginning of uprooting a culture of corruption.
The theory of change that guides the work of WMF is based in the premise that youth in Kenya will play a profound role in shaping the future, and the reality that, in Kenya today, corruption persists in society and affects almost every aspect of our lives. In the absence of effective corrective consequences to corruption, corrupt leaders emerge as the primary role models for youth, further breeding a culture of negative character. By introducing positive role modeling, and a character building program early in the education system, islands of positive culture emerge, from which leaders of integrity to emerge. Growing these islands of positivity eventually leads to more leaders with integrity, and over the long run, this will result in real change and an erosion of the corruption culture. The future of Kenya depends on the quality of her leaders. WMF recognizes that because young people will play a profound role in shaping the nation’s future, a moulding of core values and personal character is necessary and critical to remedy youth apathy, the courage deficit, and the perceived.