„Here the school PB taught students independence. They learned how to turn their ideas into projects, speak in front of the public, lead their own campaign, and persuade their schoolmates to vote for their project.“
Moses Mwansa, Project coordinator, Kitwe
The Mukuba and Nkana Secondary Schools in Kitwe, Zambia
budget for the students’ projects
This PB was organized at two schools, the Nkana and Mukuba secondary schools. Mukuba is a boys’ school, and Nkana is a mixed school. Their students live up to 10 kilometers away and usually walk to school.
The schools’ capacity is over 4,100 students, with an average of 80 students per class. Both schools are relatively old. Mukuba was founded in the 1950s. Nkana was originally part of a school for whites founded by the British during the colonization of North Rhodes.
In 2017, our team visited the Tech Camp in Ghana organized by the American Department of State. The Tech Camp invited activists and innovators from all over the world to help local active young people address the issues faced by their communities.
We cooperated during the meeting with Moses Mwansa, a young activist from Zambia, and an active member of YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative). Moses was very interested in raising child and youth involvement, and so we introduced to him the concept of participative budgeting at schools. They went on to jointly plan the implementation of a school PB in Kitwe, Zambia.
Moses cooperated with Decision 21 to obtain the funds needed for the project from a grant provided by the US Department of State.
The project started in early June of 2017 and lasted for under 3 weeks. The project managers were trained and the parties involved were informed before its launch. The budget for each winning project’s implementation was set at $120 per school.
The three best ideas per class were selected for the final round. In that round, three-person groups of proposers presented these projects to their fellow students. The proposers then ran publicity campaigns for their projects. This format taught the children to work in teams, democratically appoint representatives, practice the art of public speaking, and develop the skills needed for political campaign management. It also gave them a chance to educate themselves as active citizens and community members.
And they came forward with valuable suggestions focused on improving their school’s environment. A few examples of the proposals submitted:
Votes were cast using paper ballots, which was quite demanding in light of the large number of students.
Nkana school: 2,300 students
Mukuba school: 1,800 students
At the end of June, the project concluded with an award ceremony for the winning projects. Only one project per school could win. At the Mukuba school, the project for purchasing computer mice won out, while the winner at the Nkana school was the project for purchasing laboratory equipment.
The parties involved – including the project managers, the students and their teachers – saw the project as very positive. They all considered it to be beneficial and were very satisfied with both the process and its results. The students emphasized their appreciation for being listened to and treated as adults. They further underscored the project’s community aspect , while stressing the absence of some students as its biggest drawback.
The principals at the participating schools were enthusiastic towards this entertaining and interactive way of learning civic participation. This is an important step towards gaining youth’s interest in public affairs, while also teaching them the skills and knowledge they need for participating in the democratic process.
The local project partner, DEGHA, did not provide the funds they promised, thus cutting $3,000 from the original overall project budget. This led to a drastic reduction to the budgets for implementing the winning projects – from the original $1,000 to a mere $120.
The preliminary estimate for overall project participation at the two schools was 2,500 students. But the actual participation level was 4,100 students. Handling this significant increase in the number of students required an increase in the numbers of the participating facilitators and project team members.
The Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya state schooling Hari Nagar, West Delhi gave participatory budgeting a try.
At the end of 2017, the pupils of the T. G. Masaryk Primary School in Písek participated in the "School PB". Thanks to it, they tried out how they could take part in decisions that concern them.