Trends in Government Expenditure for Public Education

Education for All Global Monitoring ReportSeptember 2014 - This report was commissioned as a background paper for the 2015 Education for All Global Monitoring Report in order to assess the financial resources available towards meeting the EFA goals using Government Spending Watch data. At a critical juncture in defining the post-2015 education goals, this analysis was intended to help to provide insights which can improve financial commitments. Using GSW data sets, it presents a comprehensive and comparable dataset on public education spending across multiple countries (45 countries in total) and years (2011-13), and analyses trends which are highly relevant to the post-2015 goals. It looks, in turn, at the value of this dataset and challenges in its compilation; trends in budgeted education spending levels; trends in education spending as % of GDP and total government spending; shares of spending by different levels (primary, secondary etc); shares by different types of spending (wages, non-wage recurrent and capital); sources of funding (government and donors). It also compares planned and actual spending for different levels. It concludes with recommendations on the way forward. 

Education for All Global Monitoring Report

EFA 2015August 2015 - The final ever Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) published to coincide with the end of the Education for All (EFA) agenda and the MDGs to evaluate progress since 2000, has used Government Spending Watch figures. These helped evaluate domestic spending trends in the education sector to feed into the EFA report.

DFI prepared a background report analyzing recent domestic resource spending trends in the education sector using our GSW database.This has enabled the GMR team to analyse spending trends in areas which they have not done previously, in particular recurrent and capital breakdowns, and the breakdown of salaries compared to other areas, as well as budgeted spend against actual spend.

GSW data was commissioned for this study as this is the only cross-country comparable data source which allows spending within the education sector (or other sectors) into these areas.  

Education spending

MDG Target 2This analysis is based on the latest trends analysis of GSW data in the GSW 2015 report

MDG target 2.A commits that, by 2015, children everywhere will complete a full course of primary schooling. In 2000, the Dakar Framework for Education For All (EFA) also set out six goals, and a broad commitment to ensuring quality education for all. Progress has been patchy. There have been huge strides in getting children into primary school; some improvements in youth literacy; a narrowing of gender gaps; and more children than ever completing basic education. But 58 million children are still missing out on primary school, expansion of access to primary education has been slowing, the global early school-primary leaving rate (25%) is the same as in 2000, and (due to insufficient focus on quality), many children end basic education without basic literacy and numeracy.

What does the latest GSW data on education show?

  • Only 19% of countries are meeting the EFA target to spend 6% of GDP on education and 22% of countries are meeting EFA targets of 20% of total budget on education.
  • Education is the best overall sector for trends on MDG spending as it has seen the most upwards movement (albeit against a miserable set of progress in other sectors and/or sector spending shrinking), and has the most countries meeting one or both of the international spending targets. So thee other (relatively) positive story is that average spending is 80% of the target and most countries are increasing spending.
  • Education is closest to reaching its MDG targets, but the SDGs’ lifelong high-quality learning agenda will require US$161 billion more.
    • To read more about the education sector findings in the GSW 2015 report herepdf.
    • To see what explains these trends, by understanding the financing behind them, including donor aid performance, click herepdf.
    • To see how accessible data are for this sector, click herepdf.

A Taxing Business: Financing Education For All Through Domestic Resources

Taxing BusinessThe Global Campaign for Education's report, A Taxing Business: Financing Education For All Through Domestic Resources, identifies four major steps towards achieving increased domestic resources, primarily through improved taxation and revenue-generation from natural resources, and the vast impact this could make on ensuring quality, public education for all.  The report draws on a number of data-sets to explain the trends in domestic spending on education, including Government Spending Watch.

Read the report in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese

Impact of the Financial Crisis on African LIC Budgets and Education Spending – UNESCO – October 2009

The Impact of the Financial Crisis BPThis report was commissioned as a background report for the 2010 UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010, analysing the impact of the global financial crisis on African government budgets and education spending for 2009. The paper concludes that some countries have been given more "fiscal space" in 2009 to spend more to counter the effects of the crisis, which has meant that only a few countries have cut education spending in 2009. However, much more spending could be financed with grants or loans, without jeopardising macroeconomic stability or debt sustainability, or creating excessive aid dependency.


Monitoring the Impact of the Financial Crisis on National Education Financing: A Cross-Country Study – UNESCO – November 2010

UnescoThis study was commissioned by UNESCO as a background study for the Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2011, to update analysis of the impact of the global financial crisis on education spending in IDA-only countries, using 2010 budgets. It finds that there will be a continuing fall in education spending in 2010 (though health spending will rise), while spending in non-programme countries will rise to offset a fall in 2009. Overall, current LIC education spending plans are likely to fall well short of the EFA goals, especially for "off track" countries. It also finds a great deal of potential "fiscal space" to expand spending during 2011-15 period to reach EFA goals, especially by absorbing extra aid or mobilizing more budget revenue.