Financing primary education for all: public expenditure and education outcomes in Africa


This report presents the main findings of a research project that explored the relationship between public education spending and education outcomes at the primary school level in developing countries. The report explores this relationship from a cross-country perspective before concentrating on three African case studies - Botswana, Malawi and Uganda. These case studies provide important insights into how universal primary education has been achieved from a financing perspective and practical lessons for other African countries attempting to achieve primary education for all. The research finds that the link between resources and education outcomes are weak and that the achievement of the MDGs and EFA targets will require more than just increases in expenditure on primary education. This is not meant to imply that increased resources are unnecessary, merely that they are unlikely to be sufficient for achieving the education goals. The composition of resources and institutions that govern the use of these resources plays a central role in translating resources into better schooling outcomes. The report demonstrates that improving the public expenditure management system is also important in strengthening the link between public spending and education outcomes. Furthermore, the report has shown that recent successes in improving access to primary education have predominantly been a demand-side phenomenon and improvements in education outcomes will only be sustainable if demand-side constraints to primary schooling are tackled. A stronger focus on these aspects of education systems will be required if the Millennium Development Goals in education are to be achieved


Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK, 132 pp.

Financing primary education for all: public expenditure and education outcomes in Africa

Published 1 January 2003