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Participative School Budgeting – Empowering Children for Participation

Development cooperation project in Ghana

Zeitraum: Feb. 2014 - Mai 2014
Institution: Regional Advisory and Information Network Systems (NGO) and Academy for Local Democracy (NGO)

We want to use the opportunity of “Commitment for Africa” for learning lessons and identifying good practices from public participation in Ghana.

I. Background

The culture and traditions of the societies in the project area in Ghana are those of male domination and respect for the elderly and authority. The result is the culture of silence among children and young people.

This phenomenon plays against the educational and self-confidence development of children. The general apathy in participating in the governance processes of the populace has been partly linked to the cultural orientation. To break this barrier, children empowerment through capacity building, exposure to participatory platforms, as well as actual participation is needed. The strategy is to create space for the voices of children to be heard and to enhance their participation in decision-making, especially in issues that affect their daily life. This is very useful for building a population that supports the deepening of democratic practices and governance.

However, the best stage for a child to build confidence, learn and practice democratic norms and rules is at the school. Yet when it comes to defining their needs, they are treated as objects rather than subjects. This not only holds true for African but also for European countries. In the wake of the world wide diffusion of participatory budgeting, budgetary processes in schools get questioned too in regard to their participative and transparent quality. Furthermore, missing transparency in African school budgeting nurses problems like corruption.

In its essence, by making children’s’ ideas and views visible to the authorities, the project aims at informing the discussion about the School Performance and Improvement plans (SPIP) that serves as basis for allocation of capitation grant. The Capitation grant is disbursed to schools to support school development. The expenditure of Capitation grant is linked to the SPIP. Unfortunately, the development of the SIPS is done without the inclusions of views of children, though they are the direct beneficiaries of the Capitation grant. The project seeks to enable youth’s participation in that their demands and ideas are heard and considered in the usage of allocated funds and the implementation of measures that shape their surroundings. The project has therefore elements of capacity building and participation, involving children in their role as students in the Savelugu/Nanton Municipality.

II. Objectives

The main objectives are:

  1. To promote the inclusion of children in the school performance and improvement planning process
  2. To promote democratic values among children through Children Democratic Clubs (CDCs)
  3. To provide a platform for a sustainable interface between children and local government authorities

III. Target Group

Primary: Children in three schools (one upper primary and two junior high schools) in the Savelugu/Nanton Municipality
Secondary: Teachers, School Management Committees, Local Education Authorities Key Activities

1. Comprehensive engagement of partners and stakeholders

Since establishing new structures and processes within a complex regulated system, the consent and support of various groups of stakeholders and partners is needed. This holds true especially for the school system, where our target group, the children is dependant on regulations from authorities at home and in the schools themselves. Therefore, different meetings and workshops are needed.

2. Design and Implementation of ‘Children Democratic Clubs’ (CDC)

The main activity is the design and implementation of ‘‘Children Democratic Clubs’ (CDC) as a democratic innovation that connects the areas of youth participation and (local) school governance. The members of Children Democratic Clubs will be elected by their peers, giving room for a balanced participation. The three CDCs will each consist of about 12 children and will meet twice a month over the course of 3 months. Since they are already elected by their peers, the senior prefect, the girls prefect and the various class prefects are members by status. Additionally, a contest will be opened up to meet the two boys and two girls criterion in each of the 3 classes for the two junior highs and the one upper primary schools.

3. Convening a SPIP meeting for the presentation of the “Childrens SPIP Report”

The third activity of the project aims at bringing representatives of the CDCs together with local education authorities at a meeting for the SPIP. The children will present to them the “Children SPIP Reports”, compiled from the CDCs meetings. In this way, local authorities are confronted with the children’s concerns and input on challenges of the schools. The meeting could also unearth challenges confronting the SPIP and the way forward to addressing them.

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