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Holding service providers to account: community scorecards and district-level forums (PLA 56)

Article in: PLA 56. Co-editors: Holly Ashley, Angela Milligan and Nicole Kenton.

The authors describe a participatory approach to public accountability that is being used by communities in Ghana, with support from a network of NGOs. Communities assess the performance of government service providers, in this case primary schools, by developing criteria and indicators for performance. They then score schools according to the criteria and summarise these scores for different communities in a district. Some of the areas of poor performance identified can be addressed at local level with school heads and teachers. However, some issues need to be taken to the district level. The communities present the scores at a multi-stakeholder, district-level forum, which includes representatives of the ministry of education, head teachers from the schools concerned, teachers, parent-teacher association members, local leaders and NGOs. The main value of the forum is in providing an opportunity for communities and education providers to meet face-to-face and to gain a better understanding of the others' perspective. However, there is also great potential to use the forums for action planning, so that possible changes and improvements identified during the dialogue are actually put into practice. The forums could also form part of longer term monitoring of education providers (or other service providers), if repeated every year or two, providing information for communities and their supporters to lobby for further improvement in services.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org

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