Students visit the anti-corruption cartoons exhibition organised by Transparency International Bangladesh.
Youth Engagement and Support (YES) is a youth group in Bangladesh that is making countless concrete differences in the community. With 4,000 youth volunteers and 61 groups across the country, YES – which is mentored by Transparency International’s chapter in Bangladesh – is the biggest anti-corruption social movement in Bangladesh.
Last year, 45 YES groups joined forces to monitor Vulnerable Group Development, which is a social safety programme driven by the government in Bangladesh. The groups were checking the eligibility of the nearly 95,000 listed beneficiaries of the programme. They found more than 2,800 ineligible cases and worked to ensure that local authorities corrected the irregularities. Their investigative venture prevented the misuse of more than US$400,000 (equivalent to 40 million Bangladeshi Taka).
Nazmus Sakib Bin Mustafa, who leads his local YES group, was 11 when he first realised he wanted to make a difference. “I saw a leaflet at school from Transparency International Bangladesh, explaining how much money was being used up by corruption in Bangladesh. It was enough to run more than 10,000 schools and help thousands of vulnerable people. I was shocked and knew I wanted to do something to stop corruption.”
He joined his local YES group as soon as he turned 15 – the minimum age one must be to join. Now, 21 years old, Nazmus is leading anti-corruption efforts in his community.
In addition to investigating public programmes, Nazmus and his fellow YES members also run information fairs about government services and provide pop-up advice desks to guide people through filling out requests for information. They check official government web portals and push for out-of-date information to be corrected.
YES groups around the country have used a variety of creative approaches to get their message across – from cartoon exhibitions to cycle rallies. COVID-19 pushed them to shift online, but they have since continued work on the ground.
When YES members reach the age limit of 27, they can join the Young Professionals Against Corruption network. When they turn 30, they can also join the Committees of Concerned Citizens or Active Citizens Group, which are also supported by Transparency International Bangladesh. This way they can continue pushing for integrity in their workplaces and communities.
“In my experience,” Nazmus says, “young people everywhere think in the same way. They dream of making a corruption-free society, a corruption-free country, a corruption-free world.”