Spending Better for Gender Equality in Education
How Can Financing be Targeted to Improve Gender Equality in Education?
During 2019, Malala Fund and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, with support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, set out to explore how financing choices at national levels can affect girls’ education. Through a desk review and two case studies, the project highlights two promising, yet underutilized tools to allocate resources equitably, effectively and efficiently for girls’ education:
- Gender-responsive public expenditure management (GRPEM): This tool recognizes the different effects of education spending on girls and boys, and reorients spending to redress imbalance, thus improving gender-responsiveness in how funds are allocated and accounted for.
- Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA): This tool identifies cost-effective programmes and interventions for girls’ education.
Summary of findings on gender responsive public expenditure management:
- GRPEM is an effective approach to improve gender-responsiveness in how funds are allocated and accounted for, enabling countries to better align spending with gender equality objectives in education plans.
- GRPEM needs technical and political support to succeed, beyond ministry of education stakeholders.
- Investing in capacity building for GRPEM is a promising strategy for donors seeking to advance girls’ education but needs to be nested within a political economy analysis. Girls’ education is a development priority that commands near-universal approval. Study after study has delivered compelling evidence of its impact: It creates economic growth, leads to higher productivity and incomes, and contributes to reducing infant mortality, child marriage, incidence of HIV/AIDS and malaria. It is a foundation stone of gender equality in society and the economy. Yet, 129 million girls remain out of school around the world.
- In Uganda, providing technical advice and political support within the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development have been key for the success of the initiative. Improving the availability of gender-desegregated data and supporting sub-national governments to implement GRPEM appear as important ways forward.
Summary of findings on cost effectiveness analysis:
- CEA provides evidence-based comparisons between programmes that aim to improve access and learning for girls, sometimes with surprising results.
- A precondition for success in this effort is to record programme costs accurately. Real-time data collection on costs is ideal in order to limit recollection bias.
- By tracking and analysing pilot programme costs and linking those to rigorous evaluations, it is possible to estimate the cost effectiveness of the programme, linking a cost to each unit of outcome.
- In the case of the Good School Toolkit violence reduction programme in Uganda, it would be possible for government to achieve the same impact with a lower investment per child in the event of scale-up. The cost reduction comes from leveraging existing processes within the MoES to support the activities and materials required.
This paper provides important recommendations for the different actors supporting better financing for girls’ education. Both GRPEM and CEA highlight the importance of supporting local resources. Governments, civil society and development partners must acknowledge that most education resources come from government budgets, and they must push for gender considerations to be included in the budgeting process. It is not enough to change the way development aid is provided. All development actors would benefit from gender-disaggregated data, and governments must strengthen their data collection and reporting process.