In 2002, Lithuania was struggling to defeat corruption, which had flourished during the Soviet occupation. Once viewed as the key to survival in an administered economy, offering gifts for services had become an accepted social norm. More than a decade after Lithuania regained independence, polling showed that although 77% of Lithuanians considered this form of corruption a problem, few were willing to change behaviors they saw as practical. The country’s recently created anti-corruption agency, the Special Investigation Service, faced the challenge of changing those social expectations. It decided to focus on a new generation of Lithuanians. The Modern Didactics Center, an educational nongovernmental organization, and a dedicated group of teachers stepped in to help the agency work toward the ambitious goal of changing the attitudes of students across the country. The group experimented with a variety of educational approaches both in and outside the classroom, including a curriculum that integrated anti-corruption elements into standard subjects and projects that encouraged students to become local activists. Despite resistance from educators that limited the program’s scale, the effort developed new approaches that illuminated the ethical and practical downsides of corruption for students across the country.
Maya Gainer drafted this case based on interviews conducted in Vilnius, Mažeikiai, and Anykščiai, Lithuania, during February 2015. Case published June 2015.