It really hurts to see some ICT4D/MIS4D projects fail. Not In My Country is one of these projects.
NotInMyCountry.org is a website aimed at reducing quiet corruption and hard corruption at universities in Uganda. The website was launched on 24 May 2012.
As expressed in the press release the problems with Higher Education in Uganda are mind-boggling. Lecturers “lose” exams and then “suggest” that the exam might be found if the student pays a bribe. Administrators tell students that the “price” of enrolment in a course is a “special favour” otherwise known as sex. Lecturers attend class completely unprepared, if they show up at all. Administrators process registration papers months late and ignore questions they receive from students. The site enables students to publicise corrupt acts through a safe, secure, and anonymous platform. What’s different about the approach is that NotInMyCountry put the spotlight on corrupt individuals (administrators and lecturers). It is believed that focusing primarily on individual staff members – rather than on the university as an institution – is most likely to deter corruption. When individuals recognise that they will suffer consequences for their actions, they will change. That premise underlies the website.
Students, staff and other stakeholders can rate the performance of lecturers or administrative staff members on the website through a “Rate Performance” button. For rating the user is required to log in (or set up an account if you do not yet have one) for the performance rating to count. Each user is limited to one performance rating per individual lecturer or administrative staff member. In other words, you cannot rate an individual more than once. Privacy is key. On the site it is assured that the information entered on the system cannot in any way be related to the user. See the explanation here.
NotInMyCountry is an interesting project because creates a platform for e-society initiatives. Corruption on universities is high, but in most domains of government in Africa, citizens are confronted and hindered by corrupt servants. It is therefore such a shame that the project is not taken up by the users. The main question is: Why? Are the people in Uganda not interested to fight corruption? Or is the website not aligned with the way in which people want to fight corruption? It also begs for the question how the methodology could be altered to attract more performance ratings. When the platform is able to attract large numbers of users, other application areas are ready for tackling.
One way or an other, it pains to see that so little students have taken an effort and rated their best or worst lecturers and administrators. As mind-boggling as the level of corruption is, so mind-boggling is also the lack of responsibility people take to fight corruption. On that level there is also a long road ahead.
Luc Sala said:
Long time ago working and training at philips, a jesuit (!) explained to us why corruption in those countries exists. Bad as it feels, it’s a second economy, a way to adress shortcomings in the system and it is engrained in the culture. Western approaches to curb it don’t work, until we understand the layering and mechanisms underlying it. There are different honor codes and dependencies at stake. Knowing and accepting corruption laso builds connections, the ones you paid owe you, the power balance is less onesided than we think.
Maybe starting a fund whereby studentscan decide what lecturer gets an extra bonus would work? Elegantly shifting the power bonus, never blaming, but honoring the deeper motives, like that the pay is inadequate and people feel entitled to curropt extra income.