Can  Youth  Handle  Social  Accountability?

1     Introduction     There  is  a  school  of  thought  that  says  that  politics  and  governance  are  for   politicians  and  technocrats  alone.  Politicians  and  technocrats  are  there   supposedly  to  do  the  difficult  work  of  developing  and  managing  the  state.   Another  school  of  thought  proposes  that  the  state  cannot  be  governed  alone  by   politicians  and  technocrats.  In  this  proposition,  citizens  or  citizen  groups  take  an   active  role,  as  partners  of  government,  in  the  governance  process.     Social  accountability  follows  from  the  proposition  that  citizens  or  citizen  groups   are  necessary  partners  in  the  governance  process,  specifically  in  ensuring   responsiveness,  transparency  and  accountability  in  the  use  of  government   resources  and  the  fulfillment  of  its  functions.  Social  accountability  lies  on  the   premise  that  citizens  have  the  need  and  right  in  determining  how  public   resources  are  used.  There  are,  however,  questions  to  consider  for  social   accountability:    Up  to  which  level  can  government  documents  be  opened  for   public  scrutiny?  Up  to  which  point  can  citizens  participate  in  the  whole  public   financial  management  (PFM)  cycle?   Among  the  young,  there  is  a  similar  debate.  One  side  argues  that  the  role  of   young  people  is  just  to  study,  and  leave  the  affairs  of  governance  to  the  adults.   The  focus  of  young  people  should  be  on  their  studies,  so  that  later  on  when  they   are  already  adults  they  will  be  ready  to  take  over  governance.  The  other  argues   that  studying  does  not  mean  the  four  corners  of  the  classroom.  Participation  in   the  governance  process  while  young  is  a  form  of  study  or  training  for  young   people.  In  these  debates,  the  question  lies  on  the  preparedness  of  young  people   to  take  on  or  meaningfully  participate  in  governance.   Similarly,  if  young  people  are  supposed  to  participate  in  governance,  the   questions  that  will  be  asked  are:  Are  they  interested  or  do  they  have  the   motivation  to  participate?  Are  they  prepared  to  or  do  they  have  the  capacity  to   engage?  Is  the  environment  open  and  conducive  for  their  participation?  In  the   context  of  ensuring  accountability  from  government,  can  the  youth  handle  social   accountability?     To  answer  these  questions,  this  paper  will:     1. review  the  concept  social  accountability;     2. provide  an  overview  on  the  character  of  today’s  young  people  by  focusing   on  four  countries  in  East  Asia  and  the  Pacific—namely  Cambodia,   Indonesia,  Mongolia  and  the  Philippines;  and                                                                                                                    
1  Written  by  Marlon  Cornelio  for  the  Affiliated  Network  for  Social  Accountability  in  East  Asia  

and  Pacific  (ANSA-­‐EAP).  This  article  was  first  publish  in  http://ansa-­‐­‐us/v-­‐o-­‐i-­‐c-­‐e-­‐ s/youth-­‐and-­‐the-­‐social-­‐accountability-­‐challenge/  



3. present  cases  of  youth  participation  in  social  accountability  initiatives  in   the  said  countries.   I.  Citizen  Participation  and  Social  Accountability   Citizen  participation  and  civic  engagement  are  often  used  interchangeably.  We,   however,  can  still  differentiate  one  from  the  other,  in  terms  of  objectives  and   concerns.  Participation  is  seen  both  as  a  means  and  an  end,  and  is  broadly   defined  as  a  process  through  which  stakeholders  influence  and  share  control   over  development  initiatives,  and  the  decisions  and  resources  which  affect  them   (World  Bank  1996).  Participation  is  a  process,  not  an  event  that  closely  involves   people  in  the  economic,  social,  cultural  and  political  processes  that  affect  their   lives  (UNDP  1993).  Freire  (1970),  on  the  other  hand,  view  participation  as  a   process  that  politically  educates  citizens  in  the  art  of  governance,  and  the  pursuit   of  rights  and  civic  roles.   The  case  for  citizen  participation’s    role  in  development  transformation  has   substantially  been  argued    (Malik  and  Wagle  2002;  Stiglitz  1998).  Participation   contributes  to  the  effectiveness  and  sustainability  of  development  outcomes  by   encouraging  information-­‐driven  efficiency,  ownership,  transparency  and   accountability,  and  constructive  partnerships  (Uphoff  et  al.  1979;  World  Bank,   1996;  Malik  and  Wagle,  2002).  Beyond  the  instrumental  roles  in  ensuring  better   decisions  and  sounder  implementation,  participation  is  also  seen  as  a  social  good   that  deepens  democracy.  By  giving  citizens  an  opportunity  in  the  shaping  of   governance  and  the  exercise  of  power,  participation  complements  the  system  of   electoral  competition  that  may  fail  to  meet  the  needs  of  citizens  (Agrawal,  1999).   On  the  other  hand,  Malik  and  Wagle  (2002)  defines  the  scope  of  civic   engagement  by  characterizing  it  as  a  continuum  spanning  information-­‐sharing  to   empowerment.  Following  Edgerton  et  al.  (2000),  this  continuum  can  begin  with,   (a)  a  one-­way  flow  of  information  to  the  public  in  the  form  of,  say,  media   broadcasts  or  dissemination  of  decisions;  and  on  to;  (b)  bi  –  or  multilateral   consultation  between  and  among  coordinators  of  the  process  and  the  public  in   the  form  of  participatory  assessments,  interviews  and  field  visits;  (c)   collaboration  encompassing  joint  work  and  shared  decision-­‐making,  between  the   coordinators  and  the  stakeholders;  and  (d)  empowerment,  where  the  decision-­‐ making  powers  and  resources  are  transferred  to  civic  organizations.   Hirschman  (1972)  also  highlighted  the  concept  of  “exit”  contrasting  the  issue  of   voice,  or  the  capacity  to  influence  policy  and  debate  within  an  institution,  with   the  capacity  of  the  group  to  get  what  it  wants  by  choosing  a  specific  institution  or   switching  to  another.  It  also  extends  to  the  people’s  choice  to  express   dissatisfaction  with  an  institution  or  process  by  ignoring  or  moving  away  from  it   rather  that  necessarily  working  from  within.     Korten  (1998)  frames  civic  engagement  as  an  issue  in  governance,  stating  that,   “if  sovereignty  resides  ultimately  in  the  citizenry,  their  engagement  is  about  the   right  to  define  public  good,  to  determine  the  policies  by  which  they  seek  that   good,  and  to  reform  or  replace  those  institutions  that  no  longer  serve”.  Malik  and   Wagle  (2002)  point  out  that  participation  is  based  on  the  premise  that  people  


have  the  urge  as  well  as  the  right  to  be  part  of  events  and  process  that  shape   their  lives.     The  virtues  of  participation,  however,  are  not  fully  appreciated.  Concerns  often   are  raised  about  the  drawbacks  of  participatory  processes:  costs,  time  and   management  (high  transaction  costs);  risks  of  elite  capture;  the  possibility  of   instability;  and  legitimate  representation.  In  addition,  Brinkerhoff  and  Goldsmith   (2000)  suggest  that  participatory  processes  may  also  result  in  policy  stalemates   and  unrealistic  expectations  on  the  part  of  those  involve.     Social  accountability  follows  from  the  proposition  that  citizens  or  citizen  groups   are  necessary  partners  in  the  governance  process,  specifically  in  ensuring   responsiveness,  transparency  and  accountability  in  the  use  of  government   resources  and  the  fulfillment  of  its  functions.   Social  accountability  (SAc)  refers  to  the  constructive  engagement  of  citizens’   group  in  monitoring  public  resources  towards  better  service  delivery,  protection   and  promotion  of  people’s  rights  and  welfare2.  Two  forces  drive  SAc:  citizen   groups  (the  direct  beneficiaries  of  public  services)  and  government  (which   provides  the  space  for  citizen  in  monitoring  public  resources).  The  process  of   SAc  generally  involves:     gathering  information  about  government  programs;   analyzing  this  information;  and   using  this  information  judiciously  to  directly  engage  with  public  officials   and  service  providers  and  demand  that  they  serve  the  public  interest   fairly,  effectively  and  efficiently.     Examples  of  SAc  initiatives  include  participatory  public  policy-­‐making,   participatory  planning  and  budgeting,  budget  monitoring,  procurement   monitoring  and  preparing  citizen  report  cards  or  community  report  cards  on   access  to  and  quality  of  public  services.     Social  accountability  is  also  referred  to  as  the  demand-­‐side  for  good   governance3.  It  compliments  the  supply-­‐side  or  internal  accountability   mechanisms  that  are  already  in  place,  like  ombudsman  and  internal  audit.  It  also   refers  to  mechanisms  and  processes  to  hold  government  officials  or  politicians   accountable  for  their  actions  and  use  of  public  resources  in-­‐between  elections.     II.  Social  Accountability  Initiatives   The  process  of  social  accountability  is  built  on  trust—no  constructive   engagement  between  the  two  stakeholders  can  take  place  without  it.  Aside  from   trust,  social  accountability  requires  four  basic  elements  or  pillars  which  are:  (1)   organized  and  capable  citizen  groups;  (2)  government  openness;  (3)  access  to   information;  and  (4)  context  and  cultural  appropriateness.    These  basic  elements   are  best  illustrated  in  the  experiences  of  the  Concerned  Citizens  of  Abra  for  Good   Governance  (CCAGG)  and  Government  Watch  (G-­‐Watch).                                                                                                                  
2  ANSA-­‐EAP  definition,  2008.   3  Malena,  2008.    

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In  Abra—a  province  in  the  northern  region  of  the  Philippines—CCAGG  engages   the  Department  of  Public  Works  and  Highways  (DPWH)  in  ensuring  reasonably   priced  and  quality  public  infrastructure.  CCAGG  trains  their  fellow  citizens  to   monitor  the  construction  of  roads  and  bridges  to  check  if  the  agreed  standards   are  met.  When  they  complain  about  government  services  and  suspect  that  there   is  fault,  they  are  backed  up  with  information  and  evidence.  As  they  work  in   partnership  with  the  government,  they  first  present  their  reports  to  them  whom   they  expect  would  make  the  necessary  action.    If  they  see  no  action  from  the  part   of  government  within  a  reasonable  period  of  time,  they  provide  the  information   to  media  or  present  them  to  the  general  public.     The  organization  has  mastered  the  critical  mass  of  equipped  and  capable  citizens   to  engage  their  government.  Engineers,  as  well  as  other  professionals,  volunteer   to  share  their  expertise  to  the  community.  Universities  and  colleges  also   encourage  their  students  to  train  and  volunteer  for  CCAGG.  From  the  student   volunteers,  CCAGG  draws  its  new  line  of  trainers  and  facilitators.  Manang  Pura   Sumangil,  the  chairperson  of  CCAGG,  explains  the  focus  of  their  work;  “Roads  and   bridges  are  emotional  issues  for  citizens  in  Abra,  a  mainly  agricultural  province   bounded  by  mountains  and  rivers.”  She  adds  that,  “children  have  to  walk    for   several  kilometers  and  cross  rivers  to  school.  Farmers  have  to  transport  their   produce  from  the  mountains  to  the  town  centers.  Our  lives  are  highly  dependent   on  the  reach  and  quality  of  our  roads.”4  Thus,  the  citizens  of  Abra  take  it  as  their   task  to  ensure  the  quality  of  roads  and  bridges  that  the  government  builds.  The   work  of  CCAGG  has  been  replicated  little  by  little  in  other  provinces  in  the   country.     Government  Watch  (G-­‐Watch)  also  applies  social  accountability  in  the   procurement  and  delivery  of  books  of  the  Department  of  Education  (DepEd).  G-­‐ Watch  initially  conducted  a  study  on  the  procurement  of  books  by  the  DepEd.  In   the  said  study,  they  found  out  that  while  there  was  enough  budget  for  books,   schools  still  lack  books  or  books  or  that  these  were  not  delivered  to  the  schools.   Overpricing  and  the  dismal  quality  of  books  were  also  recorded.     With  the  biggest  bureaucracy,  DepEd,  then,  was  perceived  as  one  of  the  most   corrupt  government  agencies.  That  the  agency  in-­‐charge  of  the  country’s   education  was  perceived  as  one  of  the  most  corrupt  caused  national  alarm.  This   reputation  did  not  sit  well  with  reform-­‐oriented  officials  in  DepEd,  which   prompted  them,  along  with  G-­‐Watch,  to  initiate  the  Textbook  Count  Project.     With  very  huge  tasks  at  hand,  G-­‐Watch  has  partnered  with  different   organizations  such  as  student  organizations,  the  Scouts  and  the  PTAs,  and   trained  them  to  monitor  the  procurement  of  books.  G-­‐Watch,  in  addition,  has   developed  a  number  of  procurement  monitoring  modules  which  students  and   parents  could  use.     To  expand  its  reach  and  sustain  its  work,  G-­‐Watch  trained  several  student   leaders  on  capacity-­‐building  and  actual  monitoring  work.  DepEd  officials   explained  the  procurement  process  and  provided  access  to  information  like                                                                                                                  
4  ANSA-­‐EAP  Interview,  2009.    


bidding  processes,  as  well  as  procurement  and  delivery  schedules.  Volunteers,   together  with  DepEd  representatives,  were  deployed  to  bidding  processes  and   publishing  houses  of  winning  bidders.  A  procurement  monitoring  form  was   developed  which  both  the  government  inspector  and  citizen  monitor  are   supposed  to  sign.     Years  of  constructive  engagement  between  citizen  groups  and  DepEd  finally  paid   off:  with  the  same  budget,  1:1  book  to  student  ratio  was  achieved;  books  were   being  purchased  at  half  the  price  and  in  half  the  usual  period;  and  the  DepEd   became  one  of  the  most  trusted  government  agencies.       IV.  Youth  and  Social  Accountability     In  both  stories  of  CCAGG  and  G-­‐Watch,  young  people  served  as  the  monitors  of   construction  of  roads  and  bridges  and  procurement  of  books.  These  stories  are   instinctive  of  the  relationship  between  youth  and  social  accountability.  Young   people  and  social  accountability  initiatives  have  mutual  needs  for  each  other.   Social  accountability,  on  one  hand,  provides  the  frame  and  opportunity  for  young   people  to  participate  in  governance.  On  the  other  hand,  young  people  provide  the   necessary  human  resources,  new  ideas  and  energies,  for  undertaking  social   accountability  initiatives.     Social  Accountability  as  a  Frame  for  Youth  Participation   There  are  many  definitions  for  youth  or  young  people;  and  the  age  range  varies   as  well.  The  United  Nations,  for  purposes  of  statistics,  defines  youth  or  young   people  as  persons  belonging  to  the  age  range  of  15-­‐24  years  old.     Many  countries  also  draw  a  line  on  youth  at  the  age  at  which  a  person  is  given   equal  treatment  under  the  law—often  referred  to  as  the  "age  of  majority’.  This   age  is  often  18  in  many  countries,  and  once  a  person  passes  this  age,  they  are   considered  to  be  an  adult.  However,  the  operational  definition  and  nuances  of   the  term  ‘youth’  often  vary  from  country  to  country,  depending  on  the  specific   socio-­‐cultural,  institutional,  economic  and  political  factors5.     Below  are  other  definitions  for  youth.   "Youth"  is  the  critical  period  in  a  person’s  growth  and  development  from  the   onset  of  adolescence  towards  the  peak  of  mature,  self-­reliant  and   responsible  adulthood  comprising  the  considerable  sector  of  the  population   from  the  age  of  fifteen  (15)  to  thirty  (30)  years6.   -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐   Youth  is  not  a  time  of  life;  it  is  a  state  of  mind;  it  is  not  a  matter  of  rosy   cheeks,  red  lips  and  supple  knees;  it  is  a  matter  of  the  will,  a  quality  of  the                                                                                                                  
5  United  Nations  definition  for  “youth”.  Available  online:     6  Republic  Act  8044:  Youth  in  Nation  Building  Act.  Republic  of  the  Philippines.    


imagination,  a  vigor  of  the  emotions;  it  is  the  freshness  of  the  deep  springs   of  life.     Youth  means  a  temperamental  predominance  of  courage  over  timidity  of   the  appetite,  for  adventure  over  the  love  of  ease.  This  often  exists  in  a  man   of  sixty  more  than  a  boy  of  twenty.  Nobody  grows  old  merely  by  a  number  of   years.  We  grow  old  by  deserting  our  ideals7   -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐   youth  or  young  people  undergo  five  life  transitions:  (i)  continuing  education   beyond  primary-­school  age,  (ii)  going  to  work  for  the  first  time,  (iii)   growing  up  healthy,  (iv)  getting  into  relationships  and  forming  families,  and   (v)  exercising  citizenship,  i.e.  paying  income  taxes,  having  legal  rights  like   voting,  getting  a  driver’s  license8   These  definitions  highlight  important  aspects,  definition  and  characters  that,   taken  together,  provide  a  better  understanding  of  young  people.  Youth  is  a   critical  period  for  growth  and  development.  Youth  is  a  matter  of  ideas,  ideals,   and  disposition.  Youth  is  a  transitory  stage.     Since  young  people  are  at  their  critical  period  of  growth  and  development,   necessary  interventions  should  be  in  place  in  order  for  them  to  realize  their  full   potentials.   As  early  as  1965,  the  Member  States  of  the  United  Nations  have  recognized  that,     “the  imagination,  ideals  and  energies  of  young  men  and  women  are  vital  for  the   continuing  development  of  the  societies  in  which  they  live”  (UN  Declaration).   Then,  in  1985,  the  UN  General  Assembly  declared  1985  as  the  International   Youth  Year,  with  the  theme,  “Participation,  Development,  Peace.”  In  1995,  during   the  10th  Anniversary  of  the  International  Youth  Year,  the  UN  launched  the  World   Programme  of  Action  for  Youth  to  the  Year  2000  and  Beyond  –  a  policy   framework  for  national  action  and  international  support  to  improve  the  situation   of  the  youth.  This  further  reaffirmed  the  said  body’s  commitment  to  young   people.     Youth  participation,  as  a  subset  of  citizen  participation,  has  both  advantages  and   drawbacks.  But  for  young  people,  being  in  a  critical  formation  period,   participation  is  practical  integration  to  citizenship  and  understanding  democracy   and  democratic  processes.  Young  people  can  be  considered  as  “new  borns”  or   learning  citizens.  It  is  at  this  age  that  young  people  actually  perform  certain   social  roles,  like  getting  a  driver’s  license,  getting  employed  and  paying  income   taxes,  and  for  the  very  first  time  exercising  their  right  to  vote.    As  such,   participation  presents  the  opportunity  for  appreciating  democracy,  governance,   responsibility,  ownership  and  belongingness.    Youth  participation,  in  the  words   of  Freire,  can  be  seen  as  a  process  of  political  education  or  integration.   Specifically,  GTZ  (2008)  highlights  the  following  points  on  youth  participation:                                                                                                                  
7  “Youth”(1934)  by  Samuel  Ullman  (1840  -­‐1924).   8  Adopted  from  World  Development  Report  2007.  WB,  2006.    



1. Political  participation  in  adulthood  is  largely  determined  by   participation  in  youth.  Young  people  who  learn  early  to  deal  with   democratic  values  later,  as  active  citizens,  contribute  in  building  more   stable  and  peaceful  countries.     2. Young  people  also  provide  fresh  ideas  and  enthusiasm,  providing   critique  for  conventional  ways  of  thinking  and  creating  new   perspectives  on  decision  making.   3. Youth  participation  on  issues  concerning  them  improves  the   effectiveness  and  sustainability  of  development  program.     4. Young  people  develop  ownership  of  programs  and  take  responsibility.  

When  young  people  directly  pay  their  taxes  or  cast  their  ballots  for  a  government   official,  they  are  most  open,  exposed  and  conscious  of  their  role  and  right  to   exact  accountability  from  their  governments,  to  inquire  where  their  taxes  go,  and   to  demand  better  basic  services.  Social  accountability  provides  that  frame  of   engagement  for  young  people.   Youth  as  force  for  social  accountability   Because  of  their  sheer  numbers,  young  people  are  major  stakeholders  in   developing  countries.  Eighty-­‐five  percent  of  the  world’s  young  population  is   concentrated  in  developing  countries—sixty  percent  of  which  is  found  in  Asia   alone.9     According  to  the  World  Development  Report  (2007),10  this  big  numbers  of  young   people  provides  both  great  potentials  as  well  as  risks.  The  potentials  lie  in   harnessing  this  big  numbers  of  young  people  as  human  capital  for  fast-­‐tracking   the  development  of  their  countries.  The  Demographic  Windows  of  Opportunity11   is  open  for  most  of  developing  countries  according  to  the  same  report.       The  risks,  on  the  other  hand,  are  due  to  the  challenges  facing  young  people  in   most  developing  countries  such  as:  low  access  and  quality  of  education,   unemployment,  among  many  others.  If  these  are  not  addressed  within  the  time   frame  calculated  in  the  demographic  windows  of  opportunity,  much  human   capital  is  wasted.  More  than  economic  stagnation  and  extreme  poverty  await  the   future  of  these  young  people  and  their  country.       A  statement12  released  by  the  World  Bank  during  the  launching  of  the  World   Development  Report  2007,  warns  that  the  “failure  to  seize  this  opportunity  to   train  them  more  effectively  for  the  workplace,  and  to  be  active  citizens,  could   lead  to  widespread  disillusionment  and  social  tensions.”  There  is  definite  cause                                                                                                                  
9  Ibid.   10  The  World  Bank.  See  Special  Focus,  WB  East  Asia  and  Pacific  (EAP)  Report,  2006.     11  Ibid.   12  “Urgent  Need  to  Invest  More  in  Developing  World’s  Record  Youth  Population,  says  World  

Development  Report”  September  16,  2006.  Available  online:,,contentMDK:21049364~pagePK:642 57043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html  .  


for  alarm  since  such  situation  has  already  happened  and  is  happening  in  many   parts  of  the  world.       In  another  Report13  of  WB  EAP,  it  stated  that,  “the  failure  of  the  labor  market  to   absorb  them  exposes  them  to  numerous  risks,  including  organized  crime  and   violence  and  civil  unrest,  evidence  by  youth  involvement  in  the  tensions  and   militaristic  violence  that  rocked  the  Solomon  Islands  from  1998  to  2006;  and   Timor-­‐Leste  in  2006.”      As  education  and  employment  are  primary  concerns  among  young  people,  they   want  to  ensure  that  enough  government  resources  are  allocated  for  these   services  and  that  it  reaches  them.       There  are  a  number  of  examples  of  of  youth  participation  in  social  accountability   initiatives,  such  as  CCAGG  and  G-­‐Watch.  In  addition,  different  groups  of  young   people  in  Cambodia,  Indonesia,  Mongolia  and  the  Philippines  have  taken  on  the   task  of  monitoring  government  resources  for  youth  and  ensuring  youth  policies   and  programs  are  in  place.   In  the  Philippines,  youth  voters  are  using  the  promises  of  politicians  to  make   them  accountable  to  young  people  once  in  power.    Using  information  such  as   election  promises  and  platforms  for  youth,  youth  groups  have  adopted  citizen   report  cards  to  grade  the  platforms  and  performance  of  politicians.     Indonesian  youth  and  student  organizations,  on  the  other  hand,  are  known  for   their  activism  as  seen  in  many  street  demonstrations  demanding  an  increase  in   the  state’s  subsidy  for  education.  To  further  improve  their  lobbying  efforts,   youth  groups  in  Indonesia  are  now  looking  into  the  youth  and  education  budget   as  well  as  the  budgeting  process.     Coming  from  autocratic  rule,  Cambodia  and  Mongolia  are  just  beginning  to   realize  the  blessings  of  democracy.  This  opening  is  being  explored  by  young   people,  as  well  as  other  citizen  groups.  In  Cambodia  for  example,  several  national   youth  organizations  formed  a  coalition  to  collectively  engage  the  government  in   the  crafting  of  a  national  youth  policy.  Because  of  this  engagement,  government   officials  have  expressed  pride  over  the  fact  that  young  people  are  very  active  in   drafting  the  policy,  while  young  people  have  noted  that  government  officials   were  also  approachable.  At  the  local  level,  another  youth  group  piloted  the   monitoring  of  several  basic  services.  However,  youth  monitors  had  difficulty  in   accessing  information  and  got  reprimanded  by  local  government  officials,  saying   that  the  information  they  are  requesting  are  for  government’s  use  only.     In  Mongolia,  several  youth  organizations  have  also  come  together  to  raise   awareness  on  human  rights  and  civic  participation.  Since  these  are  largely   unfamiliar  and  unattractive  topics  for  young  people,  these  organizations  used   youthful  approaches,  until  they  finally  go  the  attention,  not  only  of  young  people,   but  also  of  government  officials.    They  also  provide  training  for  young  people  so                                                                                                                  
13  The  Bank’s  Youth  Engagement  Strategy  (YES)  in  the  Pacific  Sub-­‐Region,  2008(?).  Available  



that  they  mobilize  other  youth  who  can  constructively  engage  with  the   government  on  the  issue  of  resources  for  public  universities.   In  varying  degrees,  young  people  in  these  countries  are  expected  to  take  the  role   of  monitors  and  “conscience”  of  government  vis-­‐à-­‐vis  its  policies  and  programs.   Young  people  also  see  themselves  as  partners  of  government  in  development.       V.  Factors  affecting  Youth  Participation     The  participation  of  young  people  in  social  accountability  initiatives  also  face   several  challenges.  Among  their  peers,  they  are  confronted  with  questions  about   the  significance  and  impact  of  their  projects.  They  also  have  difficulty  accessing   public  information,  and    were  often  dismissed  or  brushed  aside  by  adults.       Youth  participation  is  affected  by  several  factors.  These  can  range  from  access  to   information,  technical  capacities  for  participation,  absence  of  mechanisms  for   youth  involvement,  cultural  or  historical  restrictions  on  young  people,  and   disempowerment  or  apathy.    These  factors  can  be  grouped  as  either  internal  or   external,  from  the  point  of  view  of  young  people.  Access  to  information  and   opportunities,  absence  or  lack  of  mechanisms  for  youth  participation  and   cultural  or  historical  restrictions  on  young  people  can  be  considered  as  external   factors.  On  the  other  hand,  lack  of  motivation,  disempowerment  or  apathy  and   technical  capabilities  to  engage  can  be  considered  as  internal  factors.     Internal  Factors:  Youth  Apathy  and  Lack  of  Capacity       Youth  apathy  refers  to  the  widespread  disillusionment  and/or  disempowerment   among  young  people  is  commonly  called  youth  apathy.  While  apathy  can  be   observed  even  among  adults,  particularly  in  developing  countries,  apathy  among   young  people  has  caught  much  debate  because  of  the  virtues  attributed  to  the   young.  Young  people  are  regarded  as  idealistic,  passionate,  and  to  a  certain   extent  rebellious.       Apathy  is  the  direct  opposite  of  these  values.  Young  people  are  regarded  as  the   “fair  hope  of  the  motherland’,  or  “  bamboo  shoots  to  replace  old  bamboo.”  Thus,   having  apathetic  young  people  means  a  bleak  future  for  a  country.  Furthermore,   young  people’s  disposition  toward  citizenship  tends  to  be  durable,  and   participating  early  in  life  is  a  good  indicator  of  ability  and  willingness  to  engage   in  the  future  (World  Development  Report,  2007).     The  existence  of  youth  apathy  is  also  contested.  Some  would  say  that  labeling   young  people  as  apathetic  is  disempowering  and  is  a  self-­‐fulfilling  prophecy.  If   one  labels  young  people  as  apathetic,  then  that  person  treats  young  people  as   such.  Questions  like,  “Is  the  youth  in  general  apathetic?  What  is  the  percentage  of   youth  who  are  and  who  are  not?,”  are  also  quite  common.  These  questions  are   difficult  to  answer  since  there  are  no  scientific  study  that  would  yield  such   conclusions.       9  

Young  people,  when  asked,  are  also  divided  in  the  issue.  What  can  be  ascertained   from  some  reports  is  that  young  people  lack  interest  in  politics  because  of  the   “failure”  of  governments  to  provide  service  or  to  become  relevant  to  them.    This   is  particularly  true  in  poor  countries  where  education  and  employment  are  the   primary  concerns  of  young  people.    Young  people  have  low  trust  among   politicians  since  they  perceive  that  most  politicians  are  corrupt.  Among  young   people  it  is  a  common  sentiment  that,  “politicians  only  talk  with  them  during   elections.”14  But  despite  their  distrust,  young  people  still  recognize  the  value  of   politicians  and  governments  in  shaping  their  lives.  Thus,  apathy  can  be   considered  as  a  form  of  “exit”  as  proposed  by  Hirschman  (1972).     In  Indonesia,  one  youth  leader  pointed  out  that  “youth  apathy”  per  se  is  not   “apathy”  or  “state  of  indifference”  or  “lack  of  interest.”  According  to  the  said   youth  leader,  “apathy”  is  a  position  taken  by  young  people,  a  critique  to  the   system.  It  means  that  young  people  understand  the  problem  and  concluded   “things  cannot  be  changed.”15  According  to  him,  young  people  in  Indonesia  are   not  uninterested  with  their  country’s  concerns  but  are  looking  for  the  means  to   contribute  to  the  solutions.    This  can  also  be  the  case  in  most  developing   countries.     On  the  other  hand,  youth  apathy  is  also  seen  as  the  cause  of  this  dismal  condition   of  young  people.  Young  people  are  not  asserting  their  voice  and  their  collective   power  to  demand  for  better  basic  services  or  for  electing  better  leaders.  In  this   instance,  youth  apathy  is  the  cause  and  not  the  result.  Is  youth  apathy  a  result  of   negligence  by  governments  or  young  people  are  neglected  because  they  do  not   engage  with  their  governments?  However  one  frames  the  question,  increasing   youth  participation  in  governance  remains  the  main  goal.  Showing  that   government  can  be  responsive  to  their  needs,  and  can  be  exacted  accountability   on  the  use  of  resources  and  power  can  adequately  address  apathy.   Young  people  know  the  importance  of,  have  the  interest  and  motivation  to  take   part  in  politics  and  governance.  The  question  most  young  people  are  facing  is   how  to  take  part  in  politics  and  how  to  make  a  difference.  Taking  part  and  seeing   that  things  are  not  changing  or  are  getting  worst,  both  in  the  short-­‐  and  long-­‐ terms,  further  frustrates  young  people  and  fuels  apathy.   In  all  countries,  young  people  have  expressed  their  lack  of  skills  and  capabilities   to  directly  and  constructively  engage  their  governments.  Capability  can  be   determined  by:  access  to  information,  command  over  real  resources,  and  the   ability  to  process  and  act  on  the  information  (World  Development  Report,  2007).   Though  capability  is  considered  as  an  internal  factor,  it  is  mostly  shaped  by   external  factors,  such  as  having  access  to  information  and  opportunities  or   resources,  training  and  skills  development.   Cultural  restrictions  and  bad  perceptions  on  youth  and  youth  participation   remains  a  main  hindrance  in  developing  the  capacity  of  young  people.  If  young   people  are  not  taken  seriously,  then  the  result  is  lack  or  absence  of  opportunities                                                                                                                  
14  ANSA-­‐EAP  Youth  Consultation,  2010.   15  Ibid.  


to  build  their  capacity.  Furthermore,  youth  being  a  transitory  stage,  continuous   organizing  and  training  of  new  generation  of  young  people  is  necessary.   External  Factors:  Access  to  Information  and  Opportunities,  Mechanisms,   cultural  restrictions   Access  to  information  and  opportunities  is  a  prerequisite  for  participation.  In   developing  countries,  the  rural  and  urban  divide  in  terms  of  access  is  very   significant.  Information  can  be  accessed  through  formal  and  informal  channels,   e.g.  schools,  media  including  the  internet  respectively.  Young  people  wanting  to   pursue  college  education  have  to  migrate  to  urban  centers,  the  capital  cities  like   Phnom  Phen,  Jakarta,  Ulaanbaatar,  or  Metro  Manila.  While  there  are  provincial   educational  hubs,  they  have  limited  slots  and  courses.  Young  people  have  more   access  to  information  and  opportunities  in  urban  centers.  While  mass  media  and   the  internet  have  democratized  access  to  information  in  rural  areas,   opportunities  are  still  more  concentrated  in  urban  areas.   Aside  from  studying,  young  people  are  also  expected  to  help  out  in  the  finances   of  the  family  by  taking  part-­‐time  jobs.  Youth  from  less  affluent  families  have  to   contend  with  studying  and  part-­‐time  jobs.  Participation  entails  direct  and   indirect  costs,  such  as  transportation  and  less  time  for  work.   In  Indonesia  and  the  Philippines,  youth  participation  is  something  engrained  in   their  history.  A  quick  review  of  history  would  reveal  how  young  people   participated  in  the  Youth  Oath  (1928)  and  Reformasi  movement  (1998)  in   Indonesia,  and  in  the  Katipunan  (1896),  the  People  Power  1  &  2  (1986  and  2001)   in  the  Philippines.  As  such  youth  participation  is  enshrined  in  the  Constitutions   of  these  two  countries.     In  the  four  countries,  the  Philippines  is  advanced  in  terms  of  laws  and   mechanisms  for  youth  participation.  It  has  enacted  the  Youth  and  Nation   Building  Act  of  1994  or  Republic  Act  (RA)  8044  which  created  the  National   Youth  Commission  (NYC)  and  has  established  a  national  comprehensive  and   coordinated  program  for  youth  development.     Village  Youth  Councils  or  Sangguniang  Kabataan  (SK)  have  also  been  established   at  the  grassroots  or  village  level  by  virtue  of  the  Local  Government  Code  of  1991   or  Republic  Act  No.  7160.  SK  evolved  from  Kabataang  Barangay  (Village  Youth)   created  by  Presidential  Degree  (PD)  684  under  the  Marcos  Administration.  SK   Officials  are  elected  by  the  youth  constituency  at  the  village  level  and  are   federated  up  to  the  national  level.  Federation  presidents  serve  as  ex-­‐officio   members  in  their  municipal,  city  or  provincial  councils  and  chair  the  Youth  and   Sports  Committee.     Marginalized  youth  groups  are  also  represented  in  anti-­‐poverty  policy-­‐making   processes  through  the  National  Anti-­‐Poverty  Commission  Youth  and  Students   Sector  (NAPC  YSS).  The  Youth  and  Students  Sector  is  one  of  the  14  Basic  Sectors   which  sit  with  their  counterpart  national  agencies  in  tacking  anti-­‐poverty   policies  and  programs  of  the  government.  The  Commission  was  created  by  virtue   of  the  Social  Reform  and  Poverty  Alleviation  Act  of  1998  or  Republic  Act  No.  


8425.  Aside  from  engagement  in  these  mechanisms,  young  people  are  also   organized  in  different  socio-­‐civic  and  political  groups.     Indonesia  has  taken  a  similar  step  in  adapting  a  comprehensive  youth  policy.  In   2009,  Act  No.  40  was  signed  into  law  creating  the  National  Youth  Ministry.  The   Act  is  intended  to  strengthen  the  position  and  opportunity  for  every  citizen  aged   16  (sixteen)  to  30  (thirty)  years  to  develop  the  his/her  potential,  capacity,  self-­‐ actualization  and  ideals.  In  addition,  it  guarantees  that  youth  activities  will  be   legally  protected.  It  also  provides  legal  certainty  for  government  and  local   governments  to  integrate  youth  service  programs.     The  Act  includes  the  regulation  of  community  youth  participation,  as  well  as   granting  of  awards,  funding  and  access  to  capital  for  entrepreneurial  in  a   planned,  integrated,  focused  and  sustainable.   In  Mongolia  and  Cambodia,  similar  legislations  have  been  proposed  but  are  still   awaiting  government  action.  A  national  youth  policy  is  important  to  ensure  the   integration  of  youth  issues  and  concerns  with  the  overall  national  policy.   Cultural  restrictions  and  the  existing  political  environment  are  significant   factors,  especially  in  multi-­‐cultural  and  political  contexts.  Cultural  restrictions   usually  combine  with  legal  or  institutional  mechanisms  for  youth  participation.   Cultural  restrictions  can  be  the  cause  of  the  absence  or  lack  of  institutional   mechanisms.  It  can  also  result  to  the  corruption  or  malfunctioning  of  these   mechanisms.  The  case  of  the  Sangguniang  Kabataan  in  the  Philippines  is  a  good   example.     After  more  than  three  decades  of  existence,  the  SK  now  faces  calls  for  abolition   since  they  are  now  seen  as  breeding  grounds  for  corruption.  The  SK  was   originally  conceptualized  as  training  ground  for  youth  on  governance.  However,   these  village  youth  councils  have  become  an  extension  of  dynastic  and  patronage   politics  pervasive  in  the  country.  Youth  officials  are  made  to  believe  that  getting   a  10  %  commission  from  their  projects  are  pat  of  the  S.O.P.  or  standard  operating   procedure.  Usually,  adult  village  officials  would  refuse  to  sign  the  release  of  the   budget  for  their  projects  without  the  S.O.P.  Adult  officials  also  limit  projects  of   young  people  to  sports  festivals,  beauty  pageants,  and  putting  on  street  signage   or  markers.       Young  people  point  out  that  the  more  educated  adults  are,  the  more  open  and   appreciative  they  are  for  youth  participation.16  In  rural  areas,  there  are  fixed   roles  for  young  people,  primarily  obeying  their  parents  and  community  adults   and  assisting  them  in  their  daily  tasks.  Young  people  are  supposed  to  obey  and   not  to  question  their  elders.  Young  people  are  not  taken  seriously  because  they   are  “young”.    The  book  Go!  Young  Progressives  in  Southeast  Asia  (2005),  for   instance,  points  out  that:   …there  are  significant  institutional  and  societal  obstacles  that  prevent   young  people  from  contributing  meaningfully  in  the  political  arena.                                                                                                                  
16  ANSA-­‐EAP  Youth  Consultations,  2010.  


Politics  is  seen  as  a  domain  for  seasoned  policy-­‐makers  and  campaigners.   Young  people  are,  at  best,  dismissed  as  being  too  “inexperienced”  to  make   meaningful  contributions  to  politics;  at  the  worst,  senior  officials  brand   them  as  “naïve.”     There  are  overlaps  between  and  among  internal  and  external  factors.  However,   there  is  more  value  in  demarcating  internal  and  external  factors  to  further   situate  the  problems  facing  youth  participation  and  to  provide  a  broader   perspective  in  the  interplay/relationship  of  these  different  factors.  This   demarcation  further  shows  which  challenges  or  limitations  are  faced  by  which   stakeholder  and  how  specific  stakeholders  should  act  to  address  specific   problems.  For  example,  young  people  themselves  have  to  find  ways  to  address   their  apathy,  while  government  and  adults  have  to  provide  mechanisms  for   meaningful  youth  participation  and  capacity  building.  Together,  young  people   and  government  can  help  address  the  information  and  opportunity  gaps  among   rural  and  urban  youth.   Conclusion   The  case  studies  of  different  youth  initiatives  in  social  accountability  show  that   while  there  are  hindrances  and  challenges  for  youth  participation,  there  are  also   ways  for  young  people  to  manifest  their  interest  and  build  on  their  capability.     Youth  and  social  accountability  are  complementary.  Social  accountability   provides  a  coherent  frame  for  youth  participation  which  is  based  on  information,   constructive  engagement,  and  demanding  accountability.  These  are  necessary  in   the  development  and  formation  of  young  people’s  ideas  of  citizenship  and   governance.  Participation  through  social  accountability  manages  the  demands   and  expectations  among  young  people  from  their  governments,  thus  preventing   disillusionment  or  apathy.  Social  accountability  requires  new  ideas  and  energies   from  young  people  to  sustain  and  deepen  its  impact.  Imparting  the  concept  of   social  accountability  among  young  people  would  guarantee  the  critical  mass  of   citizens  to  constructively  engaging  their  government.   Youth  participation  in  a  social  accountability  frame  fundamentally  requires  that   young  people  have  the  motivation  or  interest  as  well  as  the  capacity  and  space  to   be  part  of  processes  that  affect  them.  Understanding  and  managing  youth  apathy,   checking  access  to  information  and  opportunities,  building  capabilities,  and   ensuring  sound  cultural  and  legal  environment  are  big  steps  to  take  to  forward   youth  participation.  Young  people,  adults  and  governments  have  different  roles   and  actions  to  take  and  to  make.          


Philippines:  Youth  Report  Card   Capitalizing  on  politicians  persistent  pursuit  of  and  election  promises  on   youth  voters,  the  Center  for  Youth  Advocacy  and  Networking  (CYAN)  and   the  Bingawan  Working  Youth  Federation  (BWYG)  adopted  the  citizen   report  card  (CRC)  to  hold  politicians  accountable  on  their  campaign   promises.     CRC  originated  in  1994  in  Bangalore,  India,  through  the  work  of  an   independent  NGO  –  the  Public  Affairs  Center.  The  idea  was  to  mimic  the   private  sector  practice  of  collecting  consumer  feedback  and  applying  it  to   the  context  of  public  goods  and  services.  The  surveys  derive  their  name   from  the  manner  in  which  data  is  presented.  Just  as  a  teacher  scores  a   student’s  performance  on  different  subjects  in  a  school  report  card,  CRC   data  aggregates  scores  given  by  users  for  the  quality  and  satisfaction  with   different  services  like  health,  education,  police,  etc...or  scores  on  different   performance  criteria  of  a  given  service,  such  as  availability,  access,   quality  and  reliability.  The  findings  thus  present  a  collective  quantitative   measure  of  overall  satisfaction  and  quality  of  services  over  an  array  of   indicators.   Together  with  the  Student  Council  Alliance  of  the  Philippines  (SCAP),    the   First  Time  Voter’s  Network  (FTV),  SK  Reform  Coalition  and  other  youth   groups,  CYAN  developed  a  Youth  Report  Card  that  assessed  the  2010   Presidential  Candidates  on  their  platform  and  track-­‐record  on  youth   issues.  CYAN  started  by  developing  a  national  youth  agenda  in  2007  that   identified  top  issues  among  young  people.  Turning  the  youth  agenda,   specific  questions  on  education,  employment  and  youth  participation   that  politicians  then  answered.  With  these  and  collected  youth  platforms   from  politicians,  a  sample  of  young  people  gave  ratings  on  the  politicians.   The  result  of  the  youth  report  card  where  later  presented  to  politicians   and  media  to  help  guide  young  voters  in  choosing  a  candidate.   Local  politicians  in  Municipality  of  Bingawan,  Iloilo  province,  are  more   conscious  of  their  election  promises  since  the  BWYF  initiated   Pamangkutanon  sa  Banwa  (PSB)  or  Citizen  Query.  BWYF  records   politicians  election  promises  and  present  them  to  the  electorate.  Yearly,   after  elections,  BWYF  convenes  citizen  assemblies  and  presents  the   election  promises  of  the  winning  candidate  and  his/her  accomplishment   so  far.  The  Citizen  Query  dubbed  as  “accountability,  not  lip  service”   resulted  to  electoral  education,  accountability  and  transparency  in   government.  As  elected  officials  regularly  report  on  their   accomplishment,  adequate  planning,  budgeting,  implementation  and   monitoring  of  government  projects  are  ensured.  Citizen  Query  has  also   been  institutionalized  through  a  local  ordinance.      


Mongolia:  Hands  Up  for  Your  Rights  Campaign   Using  fun,  dynamic  and  participatory  approaches,  the  Hands  Up  for  Your   Rights  campaign  in  Mongolia  attracted  many  young  people  in  issues  like   human  rights,  gender  justice  and  democracy.  The  campaign  is  jointly   organized  by  Let’s  Develop  Club,  National  Network  of  Mongolia  Women’s   NGOs  –  MonFemNet,  and  Amnesty  International-­‐  Mongolia.     Raising  young  people’s  awareness  on  these  issues,  while  encouraging   youth  participation  and  activism,  is  the  primary  goal  of  the  campaign.  With   the  use  of  media,  music  and  arts,  and  popular  groups  and  personalities   among  young  people,  the  campaign  did  not  only  catch  the  interest  of  young   people  but  the  attention  of  the  government.  The  campaign  also  launched   youth  TV  and  radio  programs  tackling  topics  like  freedom,  human  rights,   government  budget  process,  youth  participation,  and  sexual  education.   Young  people  tapped  in  the  campaign  activities  were  formed  in  peer   groups  facilitated  by  a  fellow  youth.  Youth  leaders  were  also  given  advance   training  of  civic  participation,  human  rights,  and  advocacy.     While  faced  with  low  awareness  and  understanding  on  human  rights,  and   youth  participation,  the  campaign  is  slowly  building  young  people’s   attitude  on  civic  participation  and  monitoring  of  public  universities.    

Cambodia:  Youth  Committee  for  Unity  and  Development  (YCUD)   The  Youth  Committee  for  Unity  and  Development  (YCUD)  is  composed  of   different  national  youth  organizations  in  Cambodia.  YCUD  works  with  the   Ministry  of  Education,  Youth  and  Sports  in  the  development  of  a  National   Youth  Policy  (NYP)  in  Cambodia,  while  at  the  same  time  spreading   awareness  and  consulting  young  Cambodians  on  the  content  of  the  NYP.   Several  provincial  youth  forums  and  radio  talks  shows  have  been   conducted  to  raise  awareness  of  young  people  and  raise  inputs  and   questions  on  the  draft  NYP.  A  multi-­‐stakeholder  forum  has  also  been   called  which  was  participated  by  different  youth  organizations  and   representatives  from  the  concerned  government  agencies  and  officials   from  different  Commune  Councils.  Representatives  from  government   agencies  expressed  their  appreciation  in  the  participation  of  different   youth  organizations  in  drafting  the  proposed  NYP,  while  youth  leaders   realized  that  their  government  officials  were  willing  to  listen  and  take   into  consideration  their  proposals.  Furthermore,  a  letter  of  cooperation   sent  by  the  Ministry  of  Education,  Youth  and  Sports  facilitated   partnership  with  the  local  offices  and  conduct  of  provincial  youth   consultations.       15  

Cambodia:  Khmer  Institute  for  National  Development  (KIND):  Youth   Monitoring  of  Local  Public  Service  (YMLPS)   Young  people  in  Phnom  Phen  and  Takeo  Province  in  Cambodia  put  to   practical  application  social  accountability  tools  as  they  initiated  monitoring   of  local  public  service  at  the  commune/sangkat  level.     After  consulting  with  different  stakeholders,  commune  officials  and  NGO   practitioners,  KIND  developed  a  simple  monitoring  tool  –  a  check  list  of   several  local  public  services  like  issuance  of  birth,  marriage,  identification   card,  and  security  service  cards.  The  respondents  included  the  service   provider  and  the  service  recipients,  which  were  asked  on  the  quality  of   service  provided  and  received.       Young  monitors  recognized  the  value  of  monitoring  public  services   towards  improving  basic  service  deliver  but  felt  that  monitoring  services  is   new  to  them,  while  some  public  officials  felt  averse  towards  being   monitored  and  considered  information  requested  as  internal  for  their  use.    

Indonesia:  Youth  Budget  Accountability   Budget  for  youth  development,  particularly  education  is  lodged  in  3   different  ministries  in  Indonesia:  Ministry  of  Education,  Ministry  of  Youth   and  Sports,  Ministry  of  Religion.  How  much  the  government  is  actually   spending  on  education  is  difficult  to  ascertain  giving  this  set  up.  Budgeting   process  is  unclear  and  not  transparent.  These  two  situations  are  major   hindrances  in  monitoring  budget  for  youth  development  –education.     Meanwhile,  Law  No  25/2008  on  Freedom  of  Public  Information  states  that   APBN  (State  Budget)  is  public  fund,  therefore  it  is  accessible  for  public,  and   it  is  public’s  right  to  understand  total  budget  and  implementation.     The  Indonesia  Youth  Network  for  Social  Accountability  convened  by   Pattiro  Institute  will  put  to  test  the  Freedom  of  Public  Information  law  in   drawing  a  baseline  of  youth  and  education  related  budget  and  a  process   flow  of  youth  budget  in  the  three  youth-­‐related  agencies.    While  Indonesian   youth  are  known  for  street  demonstrations  and  constantly  criticizing   government,  they  will  now  take  a  leap  and  constructively  engaged  with   concerned  government  agencies  to  learn  more  about  youth  and  education   budget.            


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