Data revolution to measure equity in education for the SDGs #CIES2017

03 March 2017

How can we measure education spending? Do we know who bears the costs and who benefits from it? 

To answer these questions we need comprehensive data on education finance. This exists, but there are significant gaps, especially when it comes to data on private funding of education, which is the area with the lowest coverage in terms of reporting. 

Weak statistical capacity, the lack of relevant data collection and processing tools, and disparate classifications account for some of these failures. As a result planning, monitoring and policy making at both national and international levels is hindered. 

At a national level it is difficult to collect data on private funding and process it in a structured manner. This hinders objective discussions on the issue, like what are the real costs of education borne by students and their families, and related issues of equity and cost-sharing mechanisms between the government and households. 

At an international level the donor community needs more trustworthy and comparable statistics in order to assess its efforts in providing assistance to developing countries. 

Recent evidence has shown that household contributions to national education are very significant but badly targeted . In fact, households contribute relatively more to lower levels of education than to that of higher education. This is both inequitable and ineffective. Students from wealthy families are over-represented in higher education while that level receives a greater share of public resources. Furthermore the individual return on schooling in the lower levels of education is inferior.

In order to conduct evidence-based policy discussions aimed at more equitable and effective cost-sharing funding mechanisms, comprehensive and cohesive data on private expenditure on education is critical. This will help assess the extent and the nature of household contributions to education financing, and the relative weight of education funding in total household spending. 

Another question to discuss: what is the capacity of aid recipient countries to tap into domestic resources to fund the expansion of their education systems? Following the recent progress in primary education enrolments, it is estimated that only a few developing countries will be able to fund the demand for post-primary education by using their public resources only. As a result rising household contributions will be inevitable. 


Presentation: “Private funding and equity in education” #CIES2017

IIEP-UNESCO Pôle de Dakar (Claude Ndabananiye) took part in a recent panel (Monday, March 6th, 2017) at the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Conference in Atlanta on "A data revolution to measure equity in education for the SDGs" organised by UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

The most pertinent discussions of the panel were about the critical need for better statistics on private funding for education. Only 22% of all countries report data on private funding, and around 55% of education sector analyses conducted by IIEP-UNESCO Pôle de Dakar since 2010 included data on private finance data. This hinders efforts to objectively discuss equity-related issues in financing education.

These equity issues were noted with concern: students from poorer backgrounds are underrepresented in upper levels of education, but that’s precisely where governments spend the most, raising the issue of equitable distribution of public resources.

Furthermore, the National Education Account methodology constitutes an interesting framework for addressing methodological limitations and data gaps surrounding finance data in education. Other initiatives include the launching of an education dedicated survey that will help address issues of quality data for monitoring SDG4.





  • A data revolution to measure equity in education for the SDGs (organized by UNESCO Institute for Statistics)
    Claude Ndabananiye, Presenter
    8:00 to 9:30am  - Sheraton Atlanta, 2, Athens (South Tower)



Join us at #CIES2017