Sustaining SA in the School Systems
Why does it matter to raise social accountability (SA) awareness among students? What about sustaining it in the school systems and mechanisms? The journey to achieve both may not be easy, but one Woreda Social Accountability Committee has succeeded through forming social accountability school clubs and setting clear guidelines.
Social accountability school clubs are one of the mechanisms that can provide spaces for students to participate and strengthen their voices. They can also be important tools to build trust between students, teachers, school management and the wider community. Social accountability school clubs therefore contribute to the overall well-rounded learning experience both in and outside of school (Janet, 2020).
Students have frequently lacked the information they need to demand good governance and provision of basic services. The ability to generate and gain access to relevant social accountability information—and thereby to build a credible evidence base for holding school officials to account—is critical to social accountability implementation in school settings (Malena & Mcneil, 2010).
The Hawassa Town Woreda Social Accountability Committee (WSAC) has taken the initiative of forming social accountability school clubs in the Hawassa town, with the hope that it will be cascaded to other schools throughout the Sidama region. “We’ve prepared Guidelines on the Formation, Management and Strengthening of Social Accountability School Clubs, and we expect, the guidelines to be operationalized in all primary and secondary schools in Hawassa town in 2016 EFY,” said Ato Asnake Tesfaye, WSAC chair and director of Tisso High School.
“The formation, management and strengthening of social accountability school clubs is a result of a participatory process that involved regional consultations with students, teachers, members of school management committees, Hawassa town WSAC and regional education bureau,” he added.
The students who take part in the social accountability school clubs meet regularly to learn about the concepts of social accountability, basic service provision and service standards. They also collaborate with teachers, principals, WSAC and other duty-bearers to solve issues they identify in their schools and communities.
Since their formation in 2021, the social accountability schoolcClubs have brought about positive impact for learners and their communities in Hawassa town. “The social accountability school club is raising awareness on social accountability concepts, education, water and services standards. There is a huge difference now with regard to our understanding about social
accountability and how it affects our learnings and lives,” said Samrawit Kidus, a member of Tisso High School Social Accountability Club.
“The clubs are empowering us to have an active role in the running of the school while increasing the accountability and responsiveness of the school, ” she added.
The social accountability school clubs can help students become better informed about the content of the school budget by simplifying and publicly disseminating essential information. They also increase parents’ involvement in the school management through regular attendance of meetings, where priorities for the school are
identified and strategies to meet these priorities laid. Many case studies highlight that social accountability school clubs give students the confidence and capacity to voice their views, questions, concerns, and needs (Malena & Mcneil, 2010).
Social accountability school clubs, therefore, are the best approach to institutionalize social accountability in the school systems.