By Ousmane Diouf and Lily Neyestani-Hailu
Over the past two years, Senegal has been updating its education sector plan – the PAQUET 2013-2030, aiming to reflect the new vision and commitments of the global education goal, SDG 4. While updating its plan under the guidance of its national education group, Senegal developed with UNESCO’s help its National Education Accounts, an approach that the GEM Report has strongly supported for many years.
National Education Accounts classify data from all funding sources – government, households and donors – into a common framework, giving a better picture of who pays for what. By allowing for an integrated view of all financing flows, the approach focuses on how to achieve targets in an equitable manner, helping better target educational resources and improve policy decisions.
The approach also supports monitoring of progress towards SDG 4, as the level of education spending per student by source of financing is one of the thematic indicators. Finally, publishing data on how resources are being used informs the various stakeholders – from government to teachers to communities – to help ensure that resources reach their intended purpose.
National policies respond to evidence from the national education accounts
In Senegal, the national education accounts have shown that, for both public and private spending, the share of household expenditure has been increasing and was equal to the share of the government spending in 2016 (about 48% each), although there are differences between sub-sectors. The share of aid in total education spending amounted to only approximately 3%.
The results of the national education accounts were widely shared and discussed among diverse education stakeholders as a basis for dialogue and in view of defining appropriate policies and strategies that would result in more equitable and efficient education spending. The disproportionately large share of education spending picked up by households was flagged as an issue of concern. It led Senegal to revise its finance and equity related policies during the updating of the education sector plan, to make education and training more widely accessible. The resulting decisions for policy change included adopting the following measures, among others:
– improve public resource allocation between sub-sectors/ministries covering education;
– improve the allocation of public funding towards schools taking into account information on the income generated by schools from school fees; and
– revise the school funding allocation formula, which now takes into consideration the socio-economic background of students as well as fees generated by schools.
Senegal is strengthening its capacity to estimate National Education Accounts
A national technical team composed of officials from four ministries and agencies covering education and training, as well as other line and central ministries, worked on the national education accounts with the technical support of the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning through UNESCO’s Capacity Development for Education Programme (CapEd).
While existing data collection and analytical tools were strengthened, new ones were also developed to capture all spending on education, from the central level down to the local government and school levels as well as indicators related to SDG 4.
Thanks to this support, the national team is now able to update the National Education Accounts on a regular basis, including at the national level. Senegal is the first country to embark on sub-national education accounts and has mobilized its own internal resources to carry them out.
As in many countries in western Africa, several ministries cover education and training in Senegal. This can pose challenges in ensuring sector dialogue in the national planning process. The development of the National Education Accounts, which was an intra-sectoral exercise, facilitated collaboration between the various ministries at both technical and policy decision levels. It helped strengthen institutional capacities and dialogue between education planning and budget units within the sector, and between education ministries with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, facilitating a better education financing strategy.