School grants in East Asia and the Pacific countries

1 October 2012 to 31 May 2014

School Grants East Asia and Pacific countries


In recent years, a major reform occurred in developing countries as regards educational management: schools now receive grants directly from central authorities. The rationale behind school grants is to reduce bureaucracy, to increase relevance to schools’ needs, to improve quality and achieve equity. While school grants have become a crucial characteristic of educational management, little is known about their use and their impact on access, quality and equity – that is why IIEP undertook this research on school grants.

See the publication: Improving school financing: The use and usefulness of school grants, Lessons from East Asia and the Pacific



After the successful outcomes of a study conducted in Eastern and Southern Africa, IIEP and Unicef extended their collaboration on school grants to East Asia and the Pacific from 2012 to 2014. The approach was based on case studies in four countries: Indonesia, Mongolia, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu and was implemented by national teams composed of representatives of Ministries of Education and research centers who undertake the field research.
IIEP’s approach is innovative as it seeks to understand the reality of the school grants policy through interviewing key local level actors. Their experience and their opinion are at the core of IIEP’s approach: it is the added value of IIEP’s research.



How far do school grants policies, as they are designed and implemented, allow for achieving their main objectives? This question guided the research which looked in particular at the criteria and mechanisms of grants distribution, the way grants are used at the school level and how monitoring and control on the use of grants are made.
The objectives and expected outcomes of the research project in East Asia and the Pacific were to:

  • Learn from various experiences in order to enhance the design and implementation of school grants policies;
  • Gain a deeper understanding of how the design and implementation of school grants policies influence educational equity and quality to ultimately be of benefit to the child enrolled at school;
  • Strengthen the expertise and skills of national research centers;
  • Strengthen awareness of decision-makers in Ministries of Education on the research findings and the policy implications.



  • Access and equity: School grants have made it easier for children, particularly those from poor families, to enrol and remain in school, despite the continued existence of parental contributions. In some cases like Mongolia grants are allocated according to pupils’ and schools’ needs and characteristics. However, in other cases, grants are not always used for the benefit of the disadvantaged and have not been found to reduce disparities between schools.
  • Quality: While many actors highlighted improved school environments, teaching and learning resources and teacher motivation, others found this progress less evident, citing high pupil/teacher ratios and underqualified teachers. In several case, the grants’ amounts remain insufficient to have a profound impact on education quality and grants were often used for teachers’ salaries.
  • Participation: Grants have not led to more participatory decision-making in schools, as parents and teachers are often excluded. The decisions remain taken by a few actors, in particular the head teacher.
  • Administrative efficiency: Although directly depositing funds into school bank accounts improves administrative efficiency, delays and conditions attached to disbursement are counterproductive;
  • School autonomy: while schools in Indonesia, Vanuatu, and central schools in Timor-Leste enjoy autonomy in using grant funds, filial schools in Timor-Leste and schools in Mongolia remain limited in this regard.


Based on the research findings, specific recommendations have been identified, shared and discussed in each country. Key principles to be considered when designing and implementing a school grants policy include:

  • Clear formulation of policy objectives;
  • Logical relationship between policy objectives and design and implementation, in particular formula, grant amount, and transfer mechanisms;
  • Consultation of school level actors in the policy formulation process;
  • Policy communication and dissemination to the main stakeholders;
  • Capacity development for school level actors involved in the management and monitoring of grants;
  • Strong representative structures and awareness raising at the school level to ensure participatory decision-making process
  • Monitoring and control mechanisms regarding grant management and use at the school level.

Technical guidelines

As part of the research programme on school grants, technical guidelines have been produced to help countries design and implement school grant policies. Intended for political decision-makers and educational planners, the guidelines present a variety of challenges and the different strategic solutions to consider from policy conception at the central level to implementation at the school level.

A series of eight short videos were also produced to accompany the guidelines. The series addresses practical issues related to the design and implementation of school grant policies. Through the experiences of politicians, teachers, and IIEP’s researchers and experts, these videos present concrete options for the successful implementation of these policies.

Watch all the videos related to the technical guidelines on school grant policies.