School grant policies: technical guidelines now out!

10 September 2018


IIEP researchers visit a school in Togo while researching school grants.

Policy-makers and educational planners can now turn to new guidelines on how to design and implement school grant policies. In recent years, such policies have proliferated across the world, often covering some of the lost funds in the move to fee-free education. The objectives for these policies can span increased access, equity, and quality in education and can be used for things such as school materials or building costs. However, experiences in many countries have shown that these policies require careful reflection and awareness among all actors in the school community.

Based on research conducted in over 200 schools in 14 countries, IIEP has now put together the findings in a concise technical guide. It presents the main challenges and strategic options to consider when planning and formulating policies at the central level through to actual implementation in schools. This guide is especially important as more schools now play a role in managing their own finances and have access to funds allocated by the central government.

Watch videos while exploring the new guidelines

A series of eight short videos, corresponding to the different chapters of the guidelines, are also available to watch. A variety of stakeholders from different countries, as well as IIEP experts, share knowledge and experiences on everything from the policy objectives, how to distribute the funds, to how to raise awareness. Watch all of the videos here.

IIEP-UNESCO researcher Chloé Chimier shared some of the main takeaways from the guideline in a recent interview: 

What are the key takeaways from the guidelines in regard to how to formulate a strong school grants policy?

Chloé Chimier: Defining the school grant policy objective is certainly a crucial part of the policy formulation, whether it is access, equity or quality of education. Clear and realistic policy objectives are based on a country’s sectoral strategy and an analysis of schools’ situations and capacities. This is essential insofar as the choice of the objectives have an impact on the grant allocation criteria and the way the grant is used and managed in schools. For example, when the grant aims to support the introduction of fee-free primary or secondary education, planners must ensure that the amount of the grant covers all the costs required for the proper functioning of the school and completely replaces parental contributions.

What is needed to ensure that the grants benefit the running of a school and its pupils?

Chloé Chimier: The more school-level actors are involved in the decision-making process regarding the use of the grant, the more the grant will be relevant to the school and pupils’ needs. This requires having clear roles, where school management committees, teachers, parent-teacher associations, and students are effectively able to counterbalance the head teacher’s authority. Providing guides and planning, management, accounting, and control tools are key to facilitating the work of these actors.

What are the main challenges countries face with school grants?

Chloé Chimier: School grant policies rely on delegating authority and introducing new accountability frameworks. However, school-level actors are not always well-informed and prepared to take on these new responsibilities. That is why dissemination and capacity building are so key. Another challenge is that in some countries grant amounts are insufficient to substantially improve schools in precarious conditions and reduce parental contributions.


This interview first appeared in the July issue of The IIEP Letter. Read the entire newsletter here!