All citizens, including children, have the right to know how their country is run and how their national resources are spent. Government officials are responsible for sharing this information with them, justifying their actions to them and listening, meeting and responding to their needs. An important part of this is ensuring public monies are spent in children’s best interest. However, public decision-makers often place children last on their agenda and find it hard to discuss public spending with them.
Plan International works with public institutions and their officials to support them to become more responsive to the children's and young people's views, and to ensure children have a genuine say in public decision-making – including public budgeting.
We achieve this by influencing changes at multiple levels, particularly among public officials, children and young people, and civil society. For instance, we work to ensure that public accountability mechanisms such as school management committees, district health forums and national budget review committees support children's participation. This can be as key users of the services, in governing public services or in designing and implementing policies. We also seek to ensure children and young people continue to be consulted in these processes and that public officials are more responsive to children's needs.
We also work with public officials to fully recognise that young citizens have a right to information and to give assertive feedback. We support them in being more willing to accept constructive criticism from children and young people by supporting them in managing consultation and accountability processes and building their capacity to be transparent, consultative and responsive to young citizen's questions.
Our work also extends to collaborating with civil society and community members to learn to value young people’s leadership skills and how to capture young people's feedback. This also covers engagement with public accountability mechanisms.
Our work with children and young people is focused on developing their capacity, knowledge and leadership skills to engage with public officials and accountability mechanisms. The emphasis is on supporting them to engage in accountability work in a non-confrontational way and to manage potential conflict with public officials.
Importantly, we are also committed to leading by example, ensuring we are open and transparent with children, youth and communities in all aspects of how we work and what we seek to achieve together.
Case Study: Kenya's local youth and governance consortium
In Kenya, Plan International supported a local youth and governance consortium to convince community members and government officials to look at how well decentralised government funds were spent in the district. Adolescent and adult citizens had access to training, and assessed the cost-effectiveness and quality of schools, health centres and water services.
Young people discussed the results with local government, followed by public hearings to agree on measures to address shortcomings. While creating much heated debate, the hearings were found to be a catalyst by communities and government staff. They recommended making these kind of audits ongoing practice. The project used a partnership approach between young people and adults to ensure that the younger ones got access to decision-makers and information.
Learn more about our advocacy work encouraging governments to invest in children.