National Education Accounts, a pathway to improved tracking of education financing flows

01 April 2016

The final seminar for a collaborative project on National Education Accounts (NEAs) opened today in Paris, France, bringing together more than 70 international experts, education officials and partner organizations. Hosted by the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (UNESCO-IIEP) in Paris and co-organized with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and IIEP-Pôle de Dakar, the seminar wraps up the findings from a three-year project aimed at improving the collection, processing and analysis of education financing data.

“Countries need to have a very clear, complete picture of their education systems, including financing sources, so they can make informed policy decisions on where to put resources for the best learning outcomes,” said IIEP Director Suzanne Grant Lewis. “The NEA framework is one that can be replicated worldwide to help lift the fog on education financing and improve resource allocation.”

“How can we possibly ensure that every child is in school and learning by 2030 without accurate data on the resources invested in education? The reality is that many countries are currently unable to report education finance data to the UIS that cover all sources of funding – including household contributions,” said UIS Director Silvia Montoya. “But with this new framework, they will have the tools not just to report the data but use the information to target priority areas. At the same time, the international community, especially donors, will have an accurate picture of the efforts undertaken at the country level and can hopefully raise the additional funding needed to meet the goal of quality education for all by 2030.”   

Many countries worldwide grapple with limited data on education financing flows. As a result, it is often difficult to answer such questions as who finances education, where do the funds go and who benefits. This can have far‐reaching implications for the monitoring of the Education 2030 agenda. To help improve education finance data and implement a standardized methodology, UIS and the Paris and Pôle de Dakar teams of IIEP have combined their expertise to implement an education finance data project rooted in the NEA methodology.

Since 2013, the NEA project has provided technical support to eight countries who are members of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE): Uganda, Senegal, Guinee Conakry, Zimbabwe, Cote D’Ivoire, Nepal, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam. With support from GPE’s Global and Regional Activities programme, the project aims to develop and implement sustainable methodologies to collect, analyze, and use quality education finance data from key sources including government, external funders and households. By providing a type of report card on the financial health of an education system, NEAs can shed light on whether resources are allocated equitably and effectively within education systems.

As the project draws to a close, this final seminar (4-8 April 2016) provides participants an opportunity to take stock of the project’s main findings and discuss next steps for making the NEA methodology a global common practice within the context of the Education 2030 agenda. The first day of the seminar focuses on main results and is open to a large audience including international experts, national teams, and colleagues from partner institutions, GPE and others. Participants will also take part in technical discussions and review the NEA methodology. 

A report with technical manuals for each involved country will be finalized following the close of the week-long seminar. Methodological guidelines will also be created to provide international standards on which future interventions by the three project partners—as well as by other GPE partners—can be based.