Government investments in public education are seen as a key factor in driving economic development and eliminating poverty. Because of the significant impact schooling can have on an individuals and a nations prospects, one of governments most important responsibilities is to provide adequate educational opportunities to its people. Civil society organizations (CSOs) around the world have focused substantial efforts on education in their work to realize human rights and to end poverty and have been able to use budget analysis tools to support their advocacy in this sector.
In order for a government to provide for the education of its people, it must address such issues as school facilities, materials and books, qualified teachers, equitable access to schools for all students, and curriculum. CSOs advocating for high-quality education, therefore, should combine analysis of their countrys current (funding for day-to-day school operations) and capital outlay budgets (funding for school facilities) with monitoring at the local school district level how services are being delivered in order to gather evidence to effectively press for improvements.
Learn how IBP partner HakiElimu combined budget analysis and advocacy with media outreach to improve the debate over how to best educate Tanzanias children.
As with many public services, a significant share of education funding flows from the national level to local spending authorities, in this case, school districts or provincial education agencies. Too often, a portion of this funding is siphoned off due to mismanagement, including poor procurement practices, or corruption. Civil society can play a critical oversight role by monitoring these funding flows and bringing to light leakages that divert funds from the classroom.
To have the greatest impact on improving policies and outcomes, CSOs should combine their analysis of budgets with effective advocacy. For example, IBP partner Uganda Debt Network used community monitoring of a fund for building schools to identify poor management and substandard construction. The UDN used this evidence to raise awareness about the problem, put pressure on the government to respond, which ultimately strengthened procurement rules and practices and resulted in other measures to improve schools.
Useful Guides and Publications
- Primer on Budget Analysis: Taking the Case of Elementary Education by Siba Shankar Mohanty, Deepak L. Xavier, Pooja Parvati.This publication from the Center for Budget and Governance Accountability in India is a useful example of how to take a comprehensive look at a countrys elementary education system.
- Making the Budget Work for Education: Experiences, Achievements and Lessons from Civil Society Budget Work by Mario Classen.This publication from Idasa in South Africa examines the key role that civil society budget work on education has played in ensuring that government adheres to principles of accountability, public participation, and transparency with regard to its education commitments.
- Dollars and Sense for a Better Childhood: A Palestinian Child-focused Budget Study.This report on child-related public spending in Palestine from the Secretariat for the National Plan of Action for Palestinian Children includes a section on evaluating the countrys progress toward the Millennium Development Goal of Education for All. This is a practical example of how to analyze a governments commitment to education by looking not only at levels of public spending but also at education policy and allocation equity.
- Quantity without Quality: Rethinking Education Goals by Ruth Carlitz.This IBP Budget Brief analyzes education policy and finance in Tanzania to conclude that it is not just the level of spending on education that affects outcomes but also the focus on the spending.
- South African Legal Resources Centre Successfully Advocates for Adequate Education Facilities. This case study examines the work of The Legal Resources Centre in South Africa to ensure that the Eastern Cape Department of Education would follow through with its commitment to introduce a new three-year grant to addresses the infrastructure backlogs of education facilities.
- Children’s Right to Early Education in the City of Buenos Aires: A Case Study on ACIJ’s Class Action. This case study discusses the Civil Association for Equality and Justice’s campaign to pressure the government of Buenos Aires to meet its obligations to to provide access to education for all children over 45 days old.
- Quality of Education Reforms: The Case of HakiElimu’s Campaign of 2005-2007. This case study describes the campaign led by civil society organization Haki Elimu that led to improvements in Tanzania’s schools.
- Reviewing South African Provincial Education Budgets, 2004 to 2010
- The Right to Higher Education in Israel: A Legal and Fiscal Perspective
- How California Schools Get their Money
Learn More about Education and Budget Analysis
- The human rights and budget work website of the International Human Rights Internship Program provides resources on integrating budget analysis into education advocacy.
- Visit the Imali Ye Mwana (the Childrens Money) section of the Idasa website. Imali Ye Mwana is a childrens rights budget advocacy network in Southern Africa, and this site provides model reports, articles and papers, and toolkits for engaging in budget analysis around children and youths.
- HakiElimu provides useful examples on how to integrate budget analysis into efforts to expand access to and quality of primary and secondary education.