High direct costs

Direct schooling costs, or private costs taken on by families, are one of the greatest barriers to primary enrolment and completion. Compulsory primary school fees contradict numerous international agreements, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of Children, which establish the right to free primary education. While many countries have responded in recent years with primary school fee abolition, policies are not always effectively implemented, and the unofficial return of school fees is becoming increasingly common. Poorly executed fee abolition can also result in unintended negative consequences such as the erosion of educational quality, decreased parent and community involvement, and poor educational outcomes.

Additionally, the absence of primary school fees alone does not equate to free primary education. Outside of school fees there may be other direct costs to households, which can still serve as significant barriers to primary enrolment and completion. This can include required school uniforms, textbooks, general school supplies, parent-teacher association fees, transport, and examination fees. Ideally these costs would also be covered by the government in fee abolition policies, however, this is not always realistically possible in the face of limited resources.

Strategies that address both the effective implementation of school fee abolition and the other direct costs that may not be included in school fees are essential to truly deliver the promise of free primary education for all.

Promising policy options for school fee abolition

Comprehensive planning

Planning for fee abolition should include the thorough analysis of the type of school fees and other direct private costs paid by households, according to both the schools and the households themselves, and its resulting impact on school enrolment rates. Information and data should be collected on how the fee revenue is utilized by the schools, the resources and allocation mechanisms that currently exist and what will be needed to cover the lost revenue. Assessments need to estimate on the realistic basis the potential magnitude of a surge in enrolment after fee abolition and analyse what additional resources will be required, including capacity building needs.

Comprehensive planning will include:

  • groups of planning professionals, with a range of stakeholders and technical expertise, supported by high government officials;
  • information gathering of existing conditions of direct costs to households, utilization of funds, school resources, enrolment rates, data on the school-aged population, mechanisms for resource allocation to schools, needs for school infrastructure, teacher recruitment, school government and management, cost estimations; and
  • anticipating capacity building needs for implementation and monitoring, local school management, and financing.

Sustainable financing

School fee abolition will most likely require a significant increase in overall education expenditure. Greater spending on education is needed not only to account for the costs formerly covered by private family contributions but also in consideration of the additional resources required to maintain a level of quality, education after a sharp enrolment increase, as additional resources for classroom and facility construction, teacher recruitment, and school supplies will likely be necessary to expand education coverage after fee abolition. Furthermore, there should be prepared for the downstream costs of greater numbers of children attending lower-secondary schools. Targeting inefficiencies within the school system prior to fee abolition can also be used as a means to cut down on superfluous costs and free up resources.

Identify and address current inefficiencies within the education system. Construction processes, resource procurement, and distribution, and teacher recruitment are some of the areas that can be reviewed. Finally, estimate costs, in consideration of enrolment surge and maintaining/improving quality. Consider teacher costs, infrastructure costs, learning, and teaching resources costs, and identify funding sources.

Capitation grants

Countries will have to identify mechanisms for schools to obtain the funds and resources that were formerly provided by school fees. The central government can directly procure the goods and services and then distribute them to schools for free, or alternatively funds can directly be transferred to the schools. A combination of approaches may be utilized, with some resources procured by the government, and others directly by schools. Often the direct transfer of funds is done through block capitation grants. Capitation grants are per-pupil allocations, meaning the total amount of funds that the school receives is relative to the number of students enrolled (for example, $14 per student).

Capitation grants can be advantageous because they increase local-level ownership and accountability and encourage the development of school administrative capacity. They also help ensure that schools are receiving an increase in revenue that is proportional to the actual enrolment increase. However, in order for capitation grants to be successful the size of the grants need to be sufficient to cover the required costs (and should account for inflation), disbursements need to be regular and on-time, and there should be transparency and accountability in how the funds are used. This mechanism may not be effective in countries that do not have adequately developed financial management systems at the school level. There are also be risks of schools over-reporting enrolments, to gain more funding. An EMIS system in which each student had a unique ID would prevent this issue, however, developing such a system may not be feasible for many countries.

Phasing in reforms

The “big bang” approach to fee abolition eliminates all fees at once, rather than phasing in reforms. While this allows the maximum amount of students to benefit immediately, the sudden enrolment surge may be too much for schools to properly manage. For some countries it may not be possible or judicious to abolish all fees at once, which then requires setting priorities about the type of fees to initially eliminate, how to sequence in fee abolition and what groups should be targeted for additional non-fee costs.

Prioritise the type of fees to initially abolish (e.g. operating costs, teacher salaries), and prioritize sequencing (e.g. by geographical region; by grade level; by socioeconomic group.) Finally, go about targeting for additional costs (see below).

Protecting quality

School quality deterioration as a result of fee abolition is a serious concern; many countries already face primary school quality issues, and fee abolition could only exacerbate the problems. Quality aspects, which include school physical infrastructure, teaching and learning materials, and a sufficient number of qualified teachers, need to be addressed prior to the implementation of school fee abolition. Fee abolition should therefore not be viewed as an isolated policy measure but rather an opportunity for sector-wide reform. Planning measures and financing estimates must always take into account the potential impact that increased enrollment will have on quality and plan for sufficient resources.

Community involvement

It is essential to maintain community involvement and support throughout the fee abolition planning and implementation process. As the community’s direct role in schools often involved the collection and employment of fees, there may be a disengagement from community members after fee abolition, and a misunderstanding of their new expected involvement. Parents and community members should still be permitted to make voluntary contributions, such as in-kind contributions, labour and time/skills as long as it is clearly understood that it is non-compulsory. School management committees can also be created, to oversee the management of school funds, which could actually increase parent’s school involvement.

References
Kattan, R. 2006. Implementation of free basic education policy. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/EDWP_User_Fees.pdf

Nielsen, H.D. 2009. Working paper. Moving toward free primary education: Policy issues and implementation challenges. New York: UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/files/Postscript_Formatted_SFAI_SOA_Review_11_December_2009.pdf

Nordstrum, L. E. 2012. Private educational expenditure, cost-reduction strategies and the financial barriers that remain after fee abolition: Paper commissioned for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012, Youth and skills: putting education to work. Retrieved from:
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002178/217869E.pdf

The World Bank. 2009a. Abolishing school fees in Africa: Lessons from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Aboloshing_School_Fees_in_Africa.pdf

The World Bank. 2009d. Six steps to abolishing primary school fees: Operational guide. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Six_Steps_to_Abolishing_Primary_School_Fees.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), The World Bank. 2006. School fee abolition initiative (SFAI): Workshop building on what we know and defining sustained support. Nairobi: UNICEF; The World Bank.  Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/infobycountry/files/HighlightsSFAIWorkshopNairobiApril2006.pdf

Vegas, E.; Coffin C. 2013. SABER working paper series- Number 2. What matters most for school finance: A Framework Paper. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/927631468147581902/pdf/799220WP0Frame0Box0379795B00PUBLIC0.pdf

Promising policy options for other direct costs

Scholarships and fee exemptions

Targeted scholarships and fee exemptions can be effective mechanisms to address the needs of specific disadvantaged populations, for instance, girls, or the poorest households, to offset direct schooling costs not included in fee exemption. Care will have to be taken to define eligibility criteria, protect against fraud and ensure that allocations are financially sustainable.

Conditional and unconditional cash transfers

Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) are targeted cash grants that can be provided to the poorest households, conditional upon the school attendance of primary aged children. This can help alleviate resource constraints that prevent families from sending to children to school while increasing the immediate returns of education. Careful consideration needs to be given to the targeting method, conditions, size of transfer, and entry and exit rules.

While generally proven effective for increasing primary attendance, an argument against CCTs is that they can require a significant amount of discretionary education spending that could be used for other programmes devoted to educational quality. Their long-term use should, therefore, be weighed against more lasting educational reforms. Additionally, CCTs can be costly to monitor, and can still exclude populations who are most in need of transfers.

It is paramount to carefully select the targeting methods. This means CCTs can target all poor households with primary aged children, or for example, specifically those that are not sending their children to school. Use methods such as means testing, geographical location, community leader assessments, self-selection. Additionally, select appropriate conditions (such as rate of attendance) and size of transfer, and consider entry and exit rules.

Cash transfers and grants can also be provided to impoverished families without any required conditions, to reduce the need for child labour, and to offset other financial related barriers hindering school attendance. Unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) are less costly to implement, and it is argued that if poverty is the main educational constraint, families will use additional funds towards education, even in the absence of set requirements (UNESCO, 2015). UCTs can also empower households to make their own decisions for their children. However, evidence suggests that when CCTs are based on attendance, CCTs have a greater impact on education than UCTs. Like conditional cash transfers, unconditional transfers should carefully consider targeting methods, and entry and exit rules.

References
Fiszbein, A. and Schady, N. R. 2009. Conditional cash transfers: reducing present and future poverty: The World Bank Policy Report. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTCCT/Resources/5757608-1234228266004/PRR-CCT_web_noembargo.pdf

Reimers, B. F.; Trevino, E. 2006. Where is the “education” in conditional cash transfers in education? Montreal: UIS-UNESCO (UNESCO Institute for Statistics). Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001476/147635e.pdf

UNESCO. 2015a. Education for All 2000-2015: Achievements and challenges. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232205e.pdf

Providing school uniforms or eliminating uniform requirement

School uniforms can be one of the largest expenses outside of school fees, and in some cases, even surpass the cost of school fees. Free uniforms or vouchers can be provided to the poorest households and other vulnerable groups. Another possibility is to eliminate the uniform requirement altogether, however even when uniforms are declared non-compulsory, social stigma may still be associated with not wearing a uniform, or wearing one of lower quality.

Reducing textbook costs/rental schemes

Textbook costs can be notably high and unaffordable for students. Schools can reduce unit costs through seeking private provision calling for more durable textbooks, or by Ministries of Education printing their own textbooks themselves. Alternatively, schools can offer rental schemes to the student.

*For more on this subject, consult Policy page Availability and content of textbooks.

References
Fredriksen, B. and Brar, S. 2015. Getting textbooks to every child in Sub-Saharan Africa: Strategies for addressing the high cost and low availability problem. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/21876/9781464805400.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Nordstrum, L. E. 2012. Private educational expenditure, cost-reduction strategies and the financial barriers that remain after fee abolition: Paper commissioned for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012, Youth and skills: putting education to work. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002178/217869E.pdf

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

Promising policy options for school fee abolition

School fee abolition benefits all children, especially those who are the most marginalized. As a matter of fact, research reveals that the ‘the most direct and fastest way for governments to boost girls’ enrolment is to ban schools from collecting fees’ (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016: 107). For instance, Malawi’s school fee abolition increased average enrolment by half but especially favored girls (The World Bank, 2018). Tanzania’s elimination of primary school fees in 2002 allowed 1.5 million additional students to attend school, primarily girls (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016).

All of the policies and strategies previously recommended apply as well for this category, yet they should be analysed from a gender perspective (for more information consult the general section of the present Policy page).

References
The World Bank. 2018. Learning to realize education’s promise: A World Bank Group Flagship Report. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2018

Sperling, G.B; Winthrop, R.; Kwauk, C. 2016. What works in girl’s education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/whatworksingirlseducation 1.pdf

Promising policy options for other direct costs

Provide economic incentives

Research shows that when direct costs for sending children to school are high, parents usually favour their sons’ schooling instead of their daughters’ (UNICEF, n.d.; UNESCO Bangkok and APPEAL, 2004). Thus, it is recommended that Ministries of Education provide economic incentives to families in order to ‘help underwrite the costs influencing parents’ decisions about sending their daughters to school’ (Arnold, Conway, and Greenslade 2011, cited by Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016: 111).

Ministries of Education have a wide range of possibilities to support families in bearing with direct schooling costs. Some of them are:

  • meet the direct costs of education. Strategies to achieve this include implementing conditional and unconditional cash transfers, stipends, bursaries, subsidies, scholarships, and/or school fee waivers programmes. Research shows that conditional cash transfers are the most effective policy option, yet, criteria must be carefully designed to mitigate any possible risk. For example, Mexico’s conditional cash transfer programme Progresa (later renamed as Oportunidades, and more recently Prospera) reached by the year 2000 26 million families –10 percent of the country’s families. It was highly successful in increasing average enrolment, particularly Girls’ enrolment and transition rates into secondary school (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016);
  • provide school supplies, uniforms, and other resources. The cost of school material and uniforms is proven to be a major burden, especially for low-income families, when it comes to sending children to school (UK Aid, 2016);
  • provide free uniforms, shoes and school supplies to families or vouchers. For example, a programme in Kenya which provided free uniforms to children reduced girls’ primary school dropout rate from 19 to 16 percent and from 16 to 13 percent for boys (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016);
  • provide ‘school kits’ to schools. School kits can be given directly to a school who then allocate them to children or their families. It is recommended to include sanitary products for girls (UK Aid, 2016; Banham and Anhern, 2016);
  • subsidize or provide free and safe transportation. This policy is proven to increase attendance rates, particularly for girls (UK Aid, 2016; Girl’s Education Challenge, 2018); and
  • provide school-meals. This policy option has been proven to increase enrolment and attendance rates, particularly for girls (INEE, 2010; Girl’s Education Challenge, 2018; GPE and UNGEI, 2017) (e.g. the Food for Education FFE programme implemented in Bangladesh increased enrolment and attendance, yet, the impact on girls was greater than on boys –44 percent enrolment rates increase compared to 28 (UNESCO Bangkok and APPEAL, 2004).)

Ministries of Education must pay particular attention to the following aspects when designing, targeting and implementing economic incentive programmes (Girl’s Education Challenge, 2018; The World Bank, 2018; Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016; UNESCO Bangkok and APPEAL, 2004):

  • perform a robust gender analysis. Get a comprehensive picture of schooling costs and their relation to gender (The World Bank, 2018; Girl’s Education Challenge, 2018). Design the programme based on specific gender needs.
  • carefully identify and define the programme’s target or beneficiary group. Selection criteria must be centred on those who need it the most (e.g. the Zomba Cash Transfer experiment revealed that out-of-school girls benefited the most from cash transfers as they were able to return to school, compared to girls already enrolled (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016).).
  • make eligibility rules and selection processes public and transparent;
  • design pertinent and accountable logistic measures to transfer the funds or resources efficiently, especially to rural areas; and
  • involve local decision-makers, school staff, parents and community in the process and gain their support.

It is recommended to design programmes which prioritise girls or boys –depending on the context– without being solely for one group, as the latter may lead to unintentional negative consequences –such as demotivating the excluded girls and boys to continue schooling or even producing other forms of gender inequity. For example, in Bangladesh poor-household boys who received a stipend to attend primary education stopped receiving it at their transition to secondary school because the programme only targeted girls in secondary school. As a consequence, in 2012, 84 boys completed lower secondary school for every 100 girls (Baulch, 2011, cited by UNESCO-Global Education Monitoring Report, 2018);

References
Banham, L.; Anhern, M. 2016. Advancing Gender Equality in Education Across GPE Countries. Washington, D.C.: Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED574390.pdf%0Ahttps://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED574390.pdf.

Girl’s Education Challenge. 2018. Thematic Review: Economic Empowerment Interventions. London: Girl’s Education Challenge, UK Aid. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/730858/TR-Economic-Empowerment-Interventions.pdf

GPE (Global Partnership for Education), UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). 2017. Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans. Washington D.C.: The Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/guidance-developing-gender-responsive-education-sector-plans

IIEP-UNESCO. 2010a. ‘Chapter 2.2: Gender’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction (pp.31-59). Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001902/190223E.pdf

INEE (Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies). 2010. Gender Equality in and through Education: INEE Pocket Guide to Gender. Geneva: INEE. Retrieved from: https://toolkit.ineesite.org/resources/ineecms/uploads/1009/INEE_Pocket_Guide_to_Gender_EN.pdf

King, E.M; Winthrop, R. 2015. Today’s Challenges for Girls’ Education. Global Economy and Development Working Paper 90. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution.  https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Todays-Challenges-Girls-Educationv6.pdf

Sperling, G.B; Winthrop, R.; Kwauk, C. 2016. What works in girl’s education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/whatworksingirlseducation 1.pdf
The World Bank. 2018. Learning to realize education’s promise: A World Bank Group Flagship Report. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2018

UK Aid. 2016. Girls’ Education Challenge: GEC thematic discussion papers. London: UK Aid. Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/GEC_Thematic_discussion_papers.pdf

UNESCO Bangkok; APPEAL (Asia-Pacific Programme of Education for All). 2004. Advocacy brief on the impact of incentives to increase girls access to and retention in basic education. Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000137807?posInSet=1&queryId=b4d5234a-9255-490d-adda-192346ea36c2

UNICEF. n.d. Barriers to Girls’ Education, Strategies and Interventions. Accessed 26 August 2019: https://www.unicef.org/teachers/girls_ed/BarrierstoGE.pdf

Raise awareness on the value of education

Community mobilization, engagement, and public advocacy campaigns are recommended to enhance parent’s positive attitudes on the importance of education and address socio-cultural barriers that devalue girls’ education, such as the belief that boy’s education is a better investment than girl’s education (UNESCO Bangkok and APPEAL, 2004).

*For specific recommendations consult the general section of the present Policy page as well as the Policy pages: High opportunity cost and Socio-cultural barriers to schooling.

Other policy options for other direct costs

Provide income-generating activities for families

In addition to meeting schooling direct costs and providing school supplies as well as other resources, Ministries of education and other actors –such as non-governmental organizations– may provide economic support to families through income-generating activities. Some examples are micro-enterprise programmes for parents, savings and loan schemes based on the condition that the income generated is invested in children’s education (UK Aid, 2016; Girl’s Education Challenge, 2018).

The Girl’s Education Challenge Thematic Review on Economic Empowerment Interventions (2018) highlights the following lessons which should be kept in mind by Ministries of Education and other relevant stakeholders when choosing this type of strategies:

  • they entail a substantial investment;
  • they require a lot of time to become sustainable and produce an impact; and
  • tracking that the generated income is effectively invested in children’s (girl’s) education poses significant challenges.
References
UK Aid. 2016. Girls’ Education Challenge: GEC thematic discussion papers. London: UK Aid. Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/GEC_Thematic_discussion_papers.pdf

Girl’s Education Challenge. 2018. Thematic Review: Economic Empowerment Interventions. London: Girl’s Education Challenge, UK Aid. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/730858/TR-Economic-Empowerment-Interventions.pdf

Policies for children with disabilities

Promising policy options for school fee abolition

Funding inclusive and equitable mainstream schools

Ensuring the right of children with disabilities to have a free public education in the most appropriate environment is of utmost importance. Yet, in addition to school fees, there are many other direct costs to households which serve as a significant barrier to primary enrolment and completion of all children, and even more of children with disabilities who face higher costs of living (UNICEF, 2013a; UNICEF, 2013b).

To ensure the entitlement to free public education for children with disabilities, and to help their families release the economic burden that education represents, not only national policy and laws are essential (consult Policy page Constraints to attendance), but also the financing mechanisms in place. Allocating a sufficient amount of funds and support to the educational services for children with disabilities is essential (UNICEF, 2014; UNICEF, 2013a).

Ministries of Education should undertake financing reforms to ensure that education funding mechanisms are efficiently targeting those who are most in need, such as children with disabilities. For instance, this is the case of Central Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States region (CEE/CIS) (UNICEF, 2014).) The following aspects should be considered:

  • decentralized budget allocation systems benefit inclusive education.  ‘Countries having the most attractive funding option in support of inclusive education are countries with a strongly decentralized system where budgets for supporting learners with ‘special needs’ are delegated to local institutions (municipalities, districts, school clusters), and funds are based on total enrolment and other such indicators’ (Meijer, 1999 cited by UNESCO, 2003: 15);
  • inclusive mainstream settings and special education. Although many countries have a parallel system of special education, ‘recent evidence and research reveal that inclusion is more cost-effective than maintaining a segregated system’ (UNICEF, 2014: 8). However, it is of utmost importance that countries allocate the appropriate amount of resources to ensure that mainstream settings will meet the unique needs of children with disabilities (buildings are accessible, the personnel is adequately trained, accessible teaching and learning materials are available, additional support services and aids are provided, among others). Mainstream schools that are not adequately equipped and prepared to respond to the needs of children with disabilities can produce devastating effects; and
  • choosing a funding model. UNICEF (2014) illustrates the three key models which exist to determine to fund for children with disabilities:
    • input or per-capita model: funding is allocated based on the number of students identified as having special education needs;
    • resource-based model: funding is based on services provided; and
    • output-based model: funding is based on student achievement scores.

Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages (see Annex 1). However, countries that have moved towards supporting and building inclusive education systems –such as countries in the CEE/CIS region– have relied on the per-capita model.

Ministries of Education must ensure that irrespective of funding model chosen, it (UNICEF, 2014) supports the principles of inclusive education, is flexible and predictable, is comprehensible and concrete, provides sufficient funds, specially, ‘it provides the necessary resources to students with disabilities to further the implementation of inclusive education in the classroom’ (UNICEF, 2014: 21), is cost-based and allows to perform cost control, is neutral in identification and placement, and connects special education to general education.

Annex 1

Summary of Key Funding Models

Source: UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014. Financing of Inclusive Education: Webinar 8 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: http://www.inclusive-education.org/sites/default/files/uploads/booklets/IE_Webinar_Booklet_8.pdf

References
UNESCO. 2003. Overcoming Exclusion through Inclusive Approaches in Education: Conceptual Paper – A Challenge & a Vision  Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesco.org.pk/education/icfe/resources/res42.pdf

UNESCO. 2019. The right to education for persons with disabilities. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000371249

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013a. Call For Action. Education equity now: Including all children in quality learning. Retrieved from: http://education-equity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/EducationEquityNow_Call_for_action_WEB_FINAL_ENG.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013b. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities – Executive Summary. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014. Financing of Inclusive Education: Webinar 8 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: http://www.inclusive-education.org/sites/default/files/uploads/booklets/IE_Webinar_Booklet_8.pdf

Promising policy options for other direct costs

Note: much more research is needed on this subject in order to have more precise evidence on which policies effectively tackle down direct costs for families of children with disabilities and lead to an increase in enrolment. 

Provide economic incentives

Research shows a ‘well-established link between economic poverty and disability, with households that include peoples with disabilities being much more likely to be found in the poorest quintiles of society’ (Girl’s Education Challenge, 2018: 15). In addition to the direct costs that families of children’s with disabilities face in their daily lives, they may also have to incur in additional expenses to ensure their child not only access but also learns in school (Girl’s Education Challenge, 2018) (e.g. provision of essential assistive devices; special assistance within the school; medical treatments; adjustment of uniforms; etc.).

Ministries of Education should support families of children with disabilities –specially low-income– in bearing with direct schooling costs to ensure that their children access and learn in schools.

Strategies include implementing conditional and unconditional cash transfers, stipends, bursaries, subsidies, scholarships, and/or school fee waivers programmes to meet the direct costs of education. For example, in Nepal and Kenya scholarships were mobilized to increase the enrolment of children with disabilities in schools (Plan International, 2018).). This policy has also been implemented in countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Niger, Norway, Poland and Uzbekistan (UNESCO, 2019). Routine monitoring and evaluation of the effects of such strategies on children’s educational achievements are key to ensure that the objectives are being attained (UNICEF, 2013b).

Provide multiple resources necessary for school attendance. With the support of the Ministry of Health, subsidize or provide for free the required assistive devices. Subsidize or provide free accessible school material to all children with disabilities. Subsidize or provide free uniforms and shoes and adjust them when needed. 

Subsidize or provide free transportation to children with disabilities. For instance, through the provision of transportation, the programme Cheshire Services Uganda allowed children with disabilities to attend school (UK Aid, 2016). Other strategies include providing school meals and providing medical diagnosis and medical tests within the school.

References
EDT (Education Development Trust); UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2016. Eastern and Southern Africa regional study on the fulfilment of the right to education of children with disabilities. Reading: EDT. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/esaro/Regional-children-with-disabilities-UNICEF-EDT-2016.pdf

Girl’s Education Challenge. 2018. Thematic Review: Economic Empowerment Interventions. London: Girl’s Education Challenge, UK Aid. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/730858/TR-Economic-Empowerment-Interventions.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2019. Technical Round Table: Inclusion of children with disabilities in education sector planning in French-speaking Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. [Unpublished document]. 

Plan International. 2018. Planning for Inclusions: How Education Budgets and Plans target the Most Marginalized. Surrey: Plan International. Retrieved from: https://plan-international.org/publications/planning-inclusion
UK Aid. 2016. Girls’ Education Challenge: GEC thematic discussion papers. London: UK Aid. Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/GEC_Thematic_discussion_papers.pdf

UNESCO. 2019. The right to education for persons with disabilities. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000371249

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013b. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities – Executive Summary. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

Coordination among different stakeholders and resource sharing

In order to tackle down direct costs, it is essential to create cooperative spaces where more resources are made available. One way of doing this is to convert specialized centres into resource centres to support inclusive schools in the area, enhance the cooperation and resource sharing between different schools (for instance share between multiple schools highly specialized assistive devices). For this purpose, regroup schools who offer specialized services in the area or region.

Another strategy is to support the families’ and community’s capacity-building opportunities so that they are able to cooperate and contribute to inclusive education settings.

References
IIEP-UNESCO. 2019. Technical Round Table: Inclusion of children with disabilities in education sector planning in French-speaking Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. [Unpublished document]. 

Provide information on the different assistance schemes

Many families of children with disabilities may not be aware of the different governmental and non-governmental assistance schemes which can help them reduce direct costs due to disability. All of the relevant stakeholders, including the Ministry of Education, should ensure that this information is made public and families’ entitlement to them. For example, the programme LCD Kenya aimed at informing children with disabilities’ families about the different governmental social assistance schemes as well as the local projects meant to support their economic empowerment (Girl’s Education Challenge, 2018).

References
Girl’s Education Challenge. 2018. Thematic Review: Economic Empowerment Interventions. London: Girl’s Education Challenge, UK Aid. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/730858/TR-Economic-Empowerment-Interventions.pdf

Other policy options for other direct costs

Provide income-generating activities for the families of children with disabilities

Families of children with disabilities have an additional cost of living which ranges from 9 percent in Viet Nam to 69 percent in the United Kingdom (UNICEF, 2013b). Thus, providing income-generating activities for them could be a relevant policy. For instance, through the programme Cheshire Services Uganda, ‘Parents were supported with business training and start-up capital to set up small income-generating schemes, ranging from livestock rearing to retail’ (Girl’s Education Challenge, 2018: 15). Sixty-nine percent of the businesses reported generating income. Since the programme also covered school expenses through bursaries, the majority of income was allotted to food and other basic household needs (Girl’s Education Challenge, 2018: 15). 

Although pertinent in some contexts, the following aspects should be kept in mind when implementing this kind of strategy:  

  • they entail a substantial investment;
  • they require a lot of time to become sustainable and produce an impact; and
  • tracking that the generated income is effectively invested in children’s education poses significant challenges.
References
Girl’s Education Challenge. 2018. Thematic Review: Economic Empowerment Interventions. London: Girl’s Education Challenge, UK Aid. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/730858/TR-Economic-Empowerment-Interventions.pdf
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013b. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities – Executive Summary. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

Policies for displaced populations and host communities

All the policies listed in the general section of the present Policy page apply for the marginalised population of the concerned region.

References
Philippe Legrain (2016), “Refugees Work: A humanitarian investment that yields economic dividends”, OPEN and Tent. Retrieved from: http://www.opennetwork.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Tent-Open-Refugees-Work_V13.pdf

OECD, (2013), “The fiscal impact of immigration in OECD countries”, in International Migration Outlook 2013, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from: https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/sv/oekonomi/ECON1730/h14/pensumliste/intmigroutlook2013ch3.pdf

Refugees are not a burden but an opportunity. Retrieved from:  https://www.oecd.org/forum/oecdyearbook/refugees-are-not-a-burden-but-an-opportunity.htm

Starting Out – Why education for refugees matters. UNHCR education report 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.unhcr.org/starting-out.html

UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) 2018. Dafi annual report 2017.  The other one per cent – refugee students in higher education. https://www.unhcr.org/5bc4affc4.pdf

The Opportunity Cost of Refugee Resettlement. Retrieved from: https://jeffbloem.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/opportunity-cost-of-refugee-resettlement/

UNICEF Sudan. Education programme final- sector profiles (education). Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/files/Unicef_Sudan_EDUCATION_PROGRAMME_FINAL_(032016).pdf

UNHCR. 2016. Missing out : Refugee education in crisis. Retrieved from:  https://www.unhcr.org/57d9d01d0

Policies for minority populations

All the policies listed in the general section of the present Policy page apply for the marginalized population of the concerned region.

National governments should improve the accessibility and affordability

Removing school fees is necessary to make education more affordable for the marginalised, but is not sufficient to remove cost barriers.

Governments should lower indirect costs associated with uniforms, textbooks and informal fees. Financial stipend programmes for identifiably marginalized groups – such as those developed in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Viet Nam – can help provide incentives for education and enhance affordability. For instance, there has been a decline in the out-of-school children in Ethiopia, which was a direct result of bringing schools closer to marginalized communities.

Flexible approaches to providing education and multi-grade teaching in remote areas could bring education within reach of some of the world’s most marginalized children. Non-government organizations play an important role in extending access to hard-to-reach populations, including child labourers, out-of-school adolescents and children with disabilities in the marginalised population. In Bangladesh, one non-government organization has developed a system of ‘floating schools’ in order to reach the Bede (River Gypsy) community, whose livelihood depends on their moving about on boats.

It is important to note that the provision of non-government organizations is most effective when it is integrated into national systems, allowing children to continue their studies in formal schooling or to gain meaningful employment.

The national government should provide adequate entitlements and opportunities

Many of the measures needed to overcome marginalization in education operate at the interface between education policy and wider strategies for change.

Legal provisions can play a role in overcoming discrimination and realizing the right to education. Some marginalized groups, such as the Romani in Europe, have successfully challenged the legality of policies that result in institutionalized segregation. Legal provisions are likely to prove most effective when backed by social and political mobilization on the part of marginalized people. New Zealand’s Ma-ori language movement and Bolivia’s indigenous movements are cases in point. Social protection is a critical pathway to mitigating the vulnerability that comes with poverty.

Conditional cash transfer programmes in Latin America have a strong track record in improving school attendance and progression. Several countries in sub-Saharan Africa are also investing in social protection programmes. One large-scale example is the Productive Safety Net Programme in Ethiopia, which provides guaranteed employment for communities affected by drought, with positive educational effects. Increased investment in such programmes can enhance equity and accelerate progress towards Education for All goals.

But moreover, equity and cost-effectiveness considerations require detailed attention to the design of interventions, targeting and levels of support. Redistributive public spending is one of the keys to expanded entitlements and opportunities, as marginalization in education is generally associated with poverty.

References
UNESCO. 2010. EFA Global Monitoring Report : Reaching the Marginalized. Retrieved from : https://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/files/Reaching_the_Marginalized.pdf

World Bank and UNICEF. 2009. Abolishing School Fees in Africa: Lessons Learned in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique. Washington, DC/New York, World Bank/UNICEF.

Australia Department of Education. 2008. National Report to Parliament on Indigenous Education and Training, 2006. Canberra, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Bartholomew, A., Takala, T. and Ahmed, Z. 2009. Mid-Term Evaluation of the EFA Fast Track Initiative. Country Case Study: Mozambique. Cambridge/Oxford, UK, Cambridge Education/Mokoro Ltd/Oxford Policy Management.

Bhalotra, S. 2009. Educational deficits and social identity in India. Background paper for EFA Global Monitoring Report 2010
Campaign for Fiscal Equity. 2009. A Sound Basic Education for All Children. http://www.cfequity.org

Updated on 2021-06-16

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