Education Costs per Child | Global Partnership for Education

Education Costs per Child

Education costs on average $1.18 a day per child in developing countries

It costs on average $1.18 a day per child in developing countries (low and lower-middle income) to provide a full cycle of pre-primary through secondary education (13 years). The largest share of this cost, 88%, will be borne by developing countries themselves. The international funding gap is just 14 cents a day per child, on average.

Data come from two sources:

  1. The Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) estimates were used for (a) costs per child at each level of education in 2012 and 2030, as well as, (b) the financing gap (external financing over total financing required)

  2. IMF figures for historical US inflation as well as an average of estimates for US inflation in 2015 from the IMF/UN/OECD and Economist

Our assumptions and calculations are then as follows:

  1. As per GMR numbers, the costs of education are, with the exception of upper secondary, increasing over time (i.e. between 2012 and 2030). Since the GMR estimates are in constant 2012 prices, this means that inflation is accounted for, and the cost increases are real increases (i.e. more inputs are being used, or inputs, such as teacher salaries, are going up relative to the cost of other goods and services). If we assume costs increase by the same percentage each year, we can split this real increase equally across the 18 years, and figure out what the estimated cost of education is for each level in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017... through 2030. This is shown in the table below.

Imputed annual expenditure values (constant 2012 US$)
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
Pre-primary 258 276 295 315 337 360 385 411 439 469 502 536 573 612 655 700 748 799 854
Primary 1 195 203 211 220 229 239 248 259 269 280 292 304 316 329 343 357 372 387 403
Primary 2 195 203 211 220 229 239 248 259 269 280 292 304 316 329 343 357 372 387 403
Primary 3 195 203 211 220 229 239 248 259 269 280 292 304 316 329 343 357 372 387 403
Primary 4 195 203 211 220 229 239 248 259 269 280 292 304 316 329 343 357 372 387 403
Primary 5 195 203 211 220 229 239 248 259 269 280 292 304 316 329 343 357 372 387 403
Primary 6 195 203 211 220 229 239 248 259 269 280 292 304 316 329 343 357 372 387 403
Lower Secondary 1 301 311 321 331 342 353 365 377 389 402 415 428 442 457 471 487 503 519 536
Lower Secondary 2 301 311 321 331 342 353 365 377 389 402 415 428 442 457 471 487 503 519 536
Lower Secondary 3 301 311 321 331 342 353 365 377 389 402 415 428 442 457 471 487 503 519 536
Upper Secondary 1 751 747 742 738 733 729 725 720 716 712 708 704 699 695 691 687 683 679 675
Upper Secondary 2 751 747 742 738 733 729 725 720 716 712 708 704 699 695 691 687 683 679 675
Upper Secondary 3 751 747 742 738 733 729 725 720 716 712 708 704 699 695 691 687 683 679 675
Note: grey shaded numbers are as per UNESCO/GMR calculations
  1. Since a child obviously does not complete all her education in one year, and costs go up each year, we can't come up with a meaningful figure that talks about, for example, "the cost of an education in 2030." What we *can* calculate is the cost to educate a child who starts (pre-primary) school in 2015: she would start pre-primary in 2015, so we can add up the cost of pre-primary in 2015 + primary 1 in 2016 + primary 2 in 2017 + ....all the way up to upper secondary 3 in 2027, using the values calculated in (1).

    Based on developing country averages and the GMR goal of one year of pre-primary, we assume the following number of years spent in each level:

    Pre-primary 1
    Primary <6
    Lower Secondary 3
    Upper Secondary 3
    Total Years of Education 13
    *Notice that if one disaggregates by country, the total years of education and the years spent at each level will vary.

    The indicative path for a child starting school in 2015 is shown in yellow above. Summing the yellow shaded blocks, we see that the estimated total cost of a complete education from pre-primary through upper secondary for an average child in the developing world is US$5,198.07

  2. As noted in (1) above, the GMR estimates are reported in constant 2012 prices, so we need to correct for inflation in order to report this number in today’s (2015) prices. We therefore multiply the number calculated in (2) above using measured US inflation for 2013 and 2014, and an average of estimates for 2015.

    This gives us a figure of US$ 5,419.33 as the total cost in today’s dollars of a complete education from pre-primary through upper secondary for a child who starts pre-primary in 2015.

  3. Finally, we figure out the financing gap, or how much of the cost of education is anticipated to need to come from external donors. Here we use the GMR total cost figures for 2030 - estimated total costs of US$339.9 billion in education, of which US$ 39.5 billion or c. 12% are estimated to need to come from outside sources. This suggests that of the US$ 5,419.33, the financing gap is 12% or US$629.78

  4. In order to think about this as an annual or daily figure, we need to divide by (13 years) or (13 x 365 = 4,745 days) respectively. These figures are reported below (again, this applies to a child starting pre-primary in 2015 and completing a full cycle of education through upper secondary):

    Implied 2015 US$ Total Annual Daily
    Total cost of education (domestic + aid) 5,419.33 416.87 1.14
    Financing gap (aid only) 629.78 48.44 0.13
  5. In order to find an average cost for all children who complete a full cycle of schooling between 2015 and 2030, repeat steps (2) through (5) for a child starting school in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and take an average of the four values, as shown below.

    Implied 2015 US$ AVERAGE cost of education for child starting school in: 2015 2016 2017 2018 Avg. 2015-2018
    Average cost per child for full course of schooling, including pre-primary (1+12 years) 5,419.33 5,538.18 5,662.77 5,793.37 5,603.41
    Average cost per child per year 416.87 426.01 435.60 445.64 431.03
    Average cost per child per day 1.14 1.17 1.19 1.22 1.18
    Implied 2015 US$ AVERAGE financing gap for child starting school in: 2015 2016 2017 2018 Avg. 2015-2018
    Average financing gap for full course of education, including pre-primary (1+12 years) 629.78 643.6 658.07 673.25 651.18
    Average financing gap per child per year 48.44 49.51 50.62 51.79 50.09
    Average financing gap per child per day 0.13 0.14 0.14 0.14 0.14

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