How National Education Accounts are spurring change
National Education Accounts are key in improving educational planning and policy.
September 01, 2016 by Ousmane Diouf, UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP)
8 minutes read
Happy school girl, in a primary school in Lao PDR credit: GPE/Stephan Bachenheimer

A National Education Account (NEA) aims to draw a complete picture of how a country finances education.

Through implementing a structured methodology, the NEA organizes multiple data from key funding sources – public, private and external donors– in a compatible, sustainable way.

The information is then used to help identify gaps, overlaps or misuse in the ways in which education is funded, helping to better direct resources to policy objectives and assist in international monitoring of progress towards the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4).

A new frontier in education financing

Many countries have struggled with understanding education financial flows. Now, an ongoing international project to develop NEAs in eight countries with an accompanying global methodology is changing the course of how countries gather, analyze and report on education financing data.

Many education officers and policy-makers involved in the project have said this is welcome as NEAs play an important role in evidence-based planning and budgeting for education goals and targets.

With support from GPE, the project is jointly led by the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP-UNESCO) with the Pôle de Dakar and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

Three countries launch NEAs

Over the past two months, three countries participating in the project have begun to come under the spotlight. Senegal, Uganda and the Lao’s People Democratic Republic have held national launches for their NEAs.

These events have already begun to demonstrate the powerful impact this kind of information system can have on the overall economy of an education system and in shaping policy priorities to meet country needs.

The other five countries involved in the project – Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Nepal, Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire– are also gearing up for similar launches.

NEA data as a catalyst for change in Lao PDR

With the launch, local education officials in Lao PDR were given an unprecedented look into the reality of education financing in their country.

In particular, the NEA process revealed that the country was not meeting the internationally suggested benchmark of 6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 20% of government expenditure being devoted to education.

Only 3.6% of the GDP (equivalent to 12.6% of government expenditure) has gone towards the sector, largely because donor support has fallen in recent years from 24% in 2009 to 7% in 2014 and a lack of prioritizing education in government policies and budget allocation.

As a consequence of the launch, the Ministry of Education said that it would present the NEA findings to the National Assembly for appropriate action.

A call to action in Uganda

Uganda is ramping up its effort to understand the adequacy of the resources it is devoting to education through the NEA process.

The launch highlighted the surprising finding that Ugandan households are shouldering nearly half the costs of education despite a national drive to provide free education.

One consequence of this is that some low-income households may face difficulties sending their children to school. 

The launch also set the foundation for the NEA to play a key role in the country’s drive to become a middle-income country by 2020.

It is hoped that improved planning, management and resource mobilization – through the knowledge provided by the NEA – will help the country lift its educational outcomes and ultimately economic prospects.

However, new education financing data brought to the forefront through the NEA can only fulfill its role if it’s supplied by education actors.

The NEA process highlighted challenges in getting all sources to provide data, especially development partners, private education institutions and non-governmental organizations.

As a result, district Education Officers have now called on all schools, including both public and private, and other education development partners to provide education funding data for future updates of the NEA, which could help to improve educational planning, budgeting and resource allocations.

Harmonizing educational priorities in Senegal

In Senegal, the NEA launch brought to the forefront the country’s imbalanced education financing structure and low fiscal pressure (around 20%), highlighting the need for an urgent reform of its fiscal policy.

For example, the government spends 12 times more on higher education students than those in primary or lower and upper secondary, despite these lower levels of education accounting for nearly 87% of the total enrollment.

With nearly 90% of the budget going to teacher and non-teacher salaries at the primary and secondary levels, there are also few resources left for investing in teaching and learning materials.

These types of imbalances help explain some of Senegal’s challenges in financing education and meeting current educational needs. However, reform could be on the horizon: education officials are now building on evidence revealed during the NEA process to improve the equity and efficiency of resources allocated to education.

Next steps

The three launches have demonstrated the significant potential of a National Education Account to provide an improved basis for planning and implementing education reforms in developing countries.

The project’s next steps will include both national reports on all eight countries and methodological guidelines to help partners and other countries implement a NEA on their own.

Attend a webinar on National Education Accounts today at 8.00 am EST

Read more on NEA: How to track education financial flows

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A very informative webinar indeed. I participated in the activity and have learnt a lot in terms of real financing of the education sector. As a member of technical committee for implementation of Nigeria Partnership for Education Project - NIPEP, funded by the GPE, I believe our efforts to deliver in this project will help guide government budget more to the education sector and ensure prudence expenditure.

Thanks to GPE for holding a very informative and important webinar on NEA. As i had remained part of the Education Sector Plan, Sindh Pakistan and feel its very challenging.
1. First its important to identify the clear indicator and many countries need some kind of customization of Indicators,
2. Its also big challenges and most of the NGO's and INGO's receives funds and makes investment without taking the education officials on board, so we need to make an awareness and capacity building of district officials, (I)NGO's and other stakeholders to provide , accurate and relevant data.
3. This will surely improve the transparency and create an accountable system for measuring efficiency and other multiple indicators.
4. This should be an integral part of the EMIS, along with assessment system

Je remercie toute l'équipe du GPE pour la tenue de ce Webinar. ça a été un exercice intéressant et instructif.
Nous remercions et félicitons au passage les présentateurs (Sénégal, Laos et Ouganda) pour la qualité de leurs présentations.
L'importance de l'élaboration des comptes Nationaux de l'Education n'est plus à démontrer dans la mesure où cela permet une meilleure maîtrise des dépenses et financements mobilisés dans le secteur de l'éducation et d'atteindre l'efficience dans l'allocation des ressources.
Nous espérons et souhaitons un impact positif de vos importants travaux sur le pilotage, la gouvernance et la Gestion de nos systèmes éducatifs ( pays en développement).
Bon courage pour la suite!

Toutes nos félicitations à l'équipe du GPE pour cette belle initiative. Je regrette de n'avoir pas été au rendez-vous le jeudi matin pour participer au Webinar parce que au même moment j'organisais l'enterrement de mon neveu décédé.
Mais je considère que ce travail doit être poursuivi pour davantage permettre à nos pays de faire de bonnes planification mais aussi de donner plus de lisibilité aux parents, aux communautés sur tout ce qu'ils mobilisent comme ressources pour l'éducation de leurs progénitures.
En tout cas l'expérience bien conduite au Sénégal par l'équipe de l'IIPE a été très riche et trés instructive pour nous autres hommes des médias spécialisés du secteur. Nous avons beaucoup appris de la présentation que M. DIOUF et son équipe ont effectuée.
En attendant la prochaine initiative; nous renouvelons nos remerciements et notre engagement pour le développement de l'éducation partout où des enfants sont dans le besoin.
Massamba, journaliste, Sénégal

Je félicite les experts et les membres des équipes nationaux pour la qualité du travail CNE riche en information.
Les comptes nationaux de l’éducation constituent un véritable système d’information sur les dépenses d’éducation. En effet, Le compte de l’éducation est un système d’information rassemblant avec un souci d’exhaustivité et de cohérence un grand nombre de données, et dont l’objectif principal est la description et la mesure de l’effort que la nation consacre à l’acquisition des connaissances, au travers du système éducatif qu’elle organise. En général, son but est de rassembler dans un cadre comptable cohérent l’ensemble de ces flux afin de permettre l’analyse de l’économie du domaine de l’éducation, d’étudier les modes de financement et les coûts de production des activités composant le domaine.
En effet, la connaissance de la dépense d’éducation, de la charge supportée par les différents agents économiques qui la financent, des coûts de production des différentes catégories d’établissements d’enseignement, est une question rarement résolue de manière satisfaisante. L’analyse des ressources mobilisées pour le secteur de l’éducation, ainsi que leur répartition entre les différentes composantes, constituent des éléments clés pour la compréhension générale du fonctionnement actuel du système, mais surtout pour envisager des perspectives d’évolution vers une politique éducative plus soutenable.

شكرا جزيلا الى كل فرقة GPE على هذا الوبينار و هنيئا الى الدول المشاركة. الحسابات الوطنية للتربية ستمنح للدول نظرة شاملة حول امكانيات التمويل و الإنفاق كما انها ستيسر  لها سبل التعاون و الشراكة مع القطاعين الخاص و العام. اتمنى ان تنظم الدول العربية الى الدول المشاركة حاليا ، حتى تنتفع و توفق في تحقيق اهداف التربية 2030. 


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