Community participation in public service delivery can act as a lever for change by increasing transparency and encouraging beneficiaries to expose shortcomings and demand better performance. Increased citizen pressure may also improve provider responsiveness resulting in better overall outcomes for citizens.
In India, School Management Committees (SMCs) were written into policy through The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), 2009. As elected bodies intended to shift the locus of control for holding schools accountable to the community, SMCs consist of representatives of local authority, parents or guardians, teachers and the school headmaster. According to the RTE, three-fourths of SMC members must be parents or guardians and half must be women.
Citizen involvement through SMCs can help improve the quality of inputs, processes and even outcomes in schools. Specifically, these bodies can create a positive effect on school variables from parental engagement to teacher and student attendance. Although the law creates a meaningful role for parents in schools, SMCs face significant challenges that prevent effective functioning.
Empowering parents and communities with the right knowledge and tools can help them fulfill the role envisaged in the RTE Act. Towards this aim, Central Square Foundation supports innovative models for SMC formation, training and functioning. Additionally, we document best practices from innovative community engagement models across the country and international contexts and create platforms for sharing this knowledge and aligning advocacy efforts.