The ACRC believes that when citizens meaningfully participate in decision-making and service providers engage with them seriously, access and quality of services for the poor will improve.
In Democratic Republic of the Congo, the ACRC is using the Community Integrity Building combined with technology to allow school service users such as students and community members to firstly, meaningfully participate in monitoring school buildings, teacher absenteeism and provision of learning resources at schools and secondly, facilitate spaces for these citizens and the education service providers to engage seriously.
The aim is for school facilities to be safe and adequate, teacher attendance and teaching learning materials, including textbooks, to be available at school, therefore leading to children having a higher quality of education.
The Integrity Action funded project SHINE Students Acting for Honesty, Integrity and Equality (SHINE) is being implemented by the ACRC. The4-year project (October 2017- March 2021) is covering a total of 80 schools in six education districts of Uvira and Bukavu. SHINE has two key components, first to promote integrity values among students and education service providers, and decrease teacher absenteeism and second to increase the level of efficiency, transparency and accountability in the school management. SHINE uses the Community Integrity Building combined with DevelopmentCheck.org App to ‘close the feedback loop’ between students, education service providers and community members by providing evidence and assistance to government departments to act upon the feedback they receive.
The introduction of the Community Integrity Building program was an eye-opener to students and parents regarding their roles and the subsequent realization that if they are passive in school management, they should not expect to witness or even reap positive results from there. The positive results of the project within the 2 years of implementation can be seen in the core result areas of school facilities improvement (almost 30% in all the schools), increased students’ participation and enhancement of a sense of community involvement among educational stakeholders in the targeted schools.
There has been an increase in students’ involvement in the school management through regular attendance in Integrity Clubs meeting and in Joint Working Group meetings, where priorities for the school are identified and strategies to meet these priorities laid.
The student’s participation in social accountability has increased not just for boys but among girls and students at risk of exclusion as well who previously took a very limited interest in attending Integrity Clubs activities. Through regular attendance, students have come to appreciate their roles in improving education as well as the context within which the schools operate. Some of the benefits of this participation, include reduced corruption in schools, improved schools’ facilities, improved teachers-students relationship and improved parents-teachers and parents-students’ relationships. Each of these benefits is positively contributing to a better environment for children’s education.
Opportunities include the widespread positive regard of the project by the community, the cascading effects of the program to other nonparticipating schools, and the buy-in and support from the local government.