The World Bank estimates up to one-third of education spending is lost to inefficiencies – such as low levels of learning, high repetition rates, waste in procurement, and poor education workforce management. Even though service delivery to remote sites or disadvantaged students is more costly, the wealthiest households capture on average twice as much government education funding as the poorest households.
Undeniably, equity and efficiency of spending are closely linked. Inadequate financing for students from poorer families may result in high dropout and repetition rates, due to insufficient support to achieve learning outcomes, perceptions about the low quality of learning, and a disproportionately high burden on households to fund school attendance.
In the long term, a lower skilled and lower paid workforce puts stress on social security systems and could yield future losses in domestic revenue for countries, including from losses in individual productivity.
What you can do: Strengthening equity, efficiency and building accountability for domestic spending
Commitments from ministers of education, backed by strong political support in the form of Heads of States’ endorsing the joint political statement, are just a starting point. Civil society, local education groups, parliamentarians and development partners have long been advocating for improving the effectiveness of domestic financing and ensuring impact.
You too can drive support to these efforts and take action by drawing on GPE’s Advocacy Messaging toolkit and social media pack to help mobilize strong political commitments to domestic financing. A second step is to see how GPE partner countries align with the 20% benchmark.
A third and related step is to begin discussing policy commitments - where and how governments could strengthen equity and efficiency, including data systems to better guide decisions on funding.
This includes considering the enabling conditions needed for resources to be used strategically to address inequities, leakages and waste, as well as ways to increase accountability and transparency.
GPE’s letter to ministers referenced examples of better management of the teacher workforce, improvements in timeliness and accessibility of data for mutual accountability, national recovery stimulus spending targeted to education, as well cross sector imperatives, including restoring/expanding school health and nutrition programs to leave no child behind.
GPE is also encouraging commitments to strengthen the working relationship between ministries of finance and education. Following are illustrative examples of policy formulation for such commitments, by no means exhaustive:
- Improved teacher management and accountability: leveraging technology to provide more up-to-date monitoring of teacher registration, re-directing any leakages in payroll towards professional supports, performance and retention-focused incentives (e.g. female teachers in rural areas).
- Allocating funding according to need: using an allocation formula that distributes resources to most disadvantaged schools, regions and learners. Committing to a regional per-student spending formula, which factors in proficiency and poverty levels, expanding use of gender-focused expenditure analysis tools to direct sector allocations.
- Incentivizing school enrollment and retention: cash transfers and cross-sector supports such as school health and nutrition (feeding) programs have been found to drive and support girls’ education.
Financial commitments supported by relevant policy commitments will be a central feature of the Global Education Summit in July. And an opportunity to collectively demonstrate that GPE partner countries continue to prioritize investments in education at the highest political levels.
But the Global Education Summit is not the end point on advocacy for domestic financing. We will continue to advocate and work with our partners to see improvements in the volume, equity and efficiency of spending. And strengthen education spending scrutiny and accountability by civil society and national parliamentarians.
Read more on GPE’s domestic financing approach.