Enhancing social accountability through community score cards? Evidence from the education sector in Morocco

By Sylvia Bergh
Submitted to Session P4922 (Local governance and social accountability reforms in the wake of the Arab Spring, 2017 Annual Meeting
Pol Science
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In the wake of the Arab Spring, governments in the Middle East and North Africa region have responded to calls for greater accountability by creating new “participatory” institutions, often with the support of international donors. The focus in this paper is on Morocco and local experiences with Community Score Cards (CSCs), mainly in the education sector, based on three empirical qualitative case studies. CSC initiatives serve as examples of potentially innovative, even if foreign-inspired, mechanisms to renew the “social contract” between citizens and the state after a period of upheaval and social contestations of state power.
The projects are funded by the European Union and The World Bank, and implemented by the international NGO CARE in partnership with Moroccan NGOs. The paper will first present the positive outcomes of the projects in terms of tangible improvements in service delivery as well as an increased sense of empowerment on the part of the population. It will then explain the findings by focusing on the “demand” side of social accountability, i.e. the role of citizens and civil-society participation in achieving accountable outcomes, and how they perceive the state. Who are these citizens, what are their organizational resources, and under which conditions do they engage in demanding accountability from the (still largely authoritarian) state? Another set of findings will address the role of new intermediaries (also called ‘brokers’ or ‘interlocutors’) in the form of local officials, consultants, or volunteers in translating global discourses and tools for social accountability into local language and context. A third set of findings will focus on the “supply” side and the organizational incentives for civil servants to deliver better social services in a context marked by resource scarcity, corruption, and high social inequalities.
Overall, the paper argues that so far, the projects have not furthered an understanding of social accountability as a means for local actors to hold the state administration to account based on legal entitlements. Rather, the projects have focused on improving the parents’ associations’ internal accountability and fund-raising skills to pay for physical improvements of the school. This illustrates the local actors’ appropriation of foreign-inspired social accountability tools in ways that contribute to the shift of public service provision from government to civil society.