Turning old problems into new problems: the role of young citizens in improving accountability in education in Malawi and Kenya

Accountability is increasingly recognised as the key mediating variable that encourages service providers to deliver efficient and effective local services. In the context of education, accountability strategies do not always explicitly consider young citizens as the primary users of education services. In this paper, a client approach to accountability is compared to a citizenship approach. Drawing on community scorecard and social audit research in Malawi and Kenya, the author explores whether education services are more responsive and accountable when young people access information and exercise their voice. The paper outlines a refreshed ‘accountability framework’ for education, placing young citizens at the centre, and argues that a citizenship-led approach in education governance is likely to be more realistic and effective than a ‘client power’ approach. This article makes an important contribution to the development community’s understanding of what constitutes an effective approach for promoting more transparent and responsive education governance.