How To Make Spending Count In Education

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The Financial Times asked an online roundtable of experts about the prospects and priorities
for education funding in low-income countries.

Dr Elyas Abdi Jillaow
Director-general, Ministry of Education, Kenya

For sustainability, developing countries must increase their domestic spending. It is their responsibility to finance their education budgets. International donors will not be there for ever. We have made a big effort to show results from funding by constantly monitoring, evaluating projects and programmes and providing feedback. We assess competencies, so it is not just a question of whether children are going to school, but also what is taking place in the classrooms to see that learning is taking place.

Samer Al-Samarrai
Senior economist, World Bank

You need additional resources in some countries, but there is also a big agenda around improving both the efficiency and equity of expenditure. If you look at the forecasts of government spending and the impact the pandemic is having on households and aid, it is going to be a very difficult few years for education. Maybe there are opportunities to focus on making sure resources are spent better.

Gulzar Natarajan
Officer, Indian Administrative Service; secretary, finance, Government of Andhra Pradesh

In my 22 years of public life, education is by some distance the hardest public policy challenge to solve — in particular, learning outcomes in schools. Even when the teacher and the students are in class, learning is not happening. We need a single-minded focus on interventions that are directly relevant to improving classroom instruction and to use public spending and donor money to focus on that. It is good to hear of small pilots, but if we are to significantly improve learning outcomes, we need to think about what can be done at scale.

Justin van Fleet
President, Theirworld charity; executive director, Global Business Coalition for Education

We are ignoring the elephant in the room, which is that we still need at least $75bn a year to fund education. We are currently marshalling $15bn from the international community, so there is a big gap to fill.

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