| 3 Feb. 2009
Main goal of the reforms currently implemented within the educational system of Georgia is to maximize effectiveness of each part of the educational system. The reform implies that the parents and teachers should take the responsibility for managing the school and disposing of its funds.
These are the ones who use school services, and this is why parents and teachers should be most interested in successful performance of school. This is why the supervisory board, staffed with parents and teachers should become a body to define development directions of each school; and the plan developed and defined by the board will be implemented and executed by the school principal.
Such management system requires schools independently dispose of state funds allocated to them. At the same time, each school should be given the opportunity to look for funding sources independently and think about improvement of their situation themselves. The reform initiated by the Ministry of Education of Georgia responds to these issues and aims to solve them.
Increasing of school rights obviously requires that the parents and teachers be relevantly prepared for this process. This is why it is getting important for parents and teachers to acquire the skills of ‘participatory budgeting’, or involvement in drawing and spending the school budget.
Participatory Budgeting Program is implemented by the Liberty Institute within the UNAG National Integration and Tolerance in Georgia Program funded by the USAID. The program aims at supporting enhanced activeness of teachers, parents and students from places populated with minorities and from minority schools, and ensuring their active involvement in the budgeting process.
Method of participatory budgeting has been elaborated by the Liberty Institute on the grounds of best practices of various countries. The concept of ‘participatory budgeting’ implies involvement of the parties in the whole process of setting up the school budget, who are directly interested in the quality of services funded from the school budget, and in how purposeful the expenses incurred for these services are. Participation in setting up and spending the school budget provides the guarantee that the funds allocated to school by the state are distributed equally among all the users of school services regardless their income or position, i.e. to eliminate discrimination and unfairness. One of the important goals of the participatory budgeting is transparency and provision of exhaustive information about spending school funds to all the interested parties. Thus, the Ministry of Education or public representative, or any interested person should have an access to the budget drawn up by the supervisory board of the school, and be able to get the information they might be interested in about disposing of the school’s financial resources.
The process of participatory budgeting becomes transparent, open and understandable for everyone because the decisions about budget making, spending and outcome analysis are not made at politicians’ offices, but instead at the board meetings staffed with members of the society - parents, teachers and other interested persons.
The process of participatory budgeting itself can be compared to ‘civil school’, which teaches citizens their rights, helps them acknowledge their civil duties and get aware of the government responsibilities in the educational system. Thus, participatory budgeting is a continuous learning process during which the citizens get used to negotiate with the government and among one another as well about how to use limited resources for implementing the priorities identified by school.
Therefore, participatory budgeting at school, as a decentralized form of management, increases chances of citizens actively get involved in making decisions that are directly linked to the quality of services provided by the school. Most importantly, participatory budgeting teaches the citizens to be active in achieving the social justice via more efficient allocation of resources, change administrative arrangement and improve the culture of decision implementation.