Improving school financing: the use and usefulness of school grants: lessons from five African countries

De Grauwe, Anton; Lugaz, Candy
Management reform for Education 2030
157 pages

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Schools understand their challenges better than do ministries, and they are more aware of what solutions will work. Therefore, funding for the functioning and improvement of schools should not remain in the central ministry, but be distributed to schools, which should decide on its use. This reasoning has led several countries to implement school grant policies, which significantly increase the financial autonomy of the schools. Yet the implementation of such policies frequently encounters stubborn realities, in particular: (i) the unwillingness or incapacity of central ministries to decentralize funds; (ii) the substantial differences between school, in terms of management competencies, transparency in decision-making, and use of the grants; and (iii) the inadequacy of central guidance and control. This publication, based on both qualitative and quantitative research in some 60 schools in 5 countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, and Uganda) examines in detail how schools used the grants, and arrives at findings about the usefulness of these policies, which will be valuable to national and international policy-makers. The research was financially supported by the UNICEF Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa.