What is SABER-School Finance?
- Why did the World Bank embark on SABER-School Finance?
- How is SABER-School Finance used by countries to improve school finance systems?
- What products will be developed by SABER-School Finance?
SABER-School Finance benchmarks school finance policies in developed and developing countries to promote systems that provide adequate resources to achieve learning outcomes, offer equal learning opportunities for all, and effectively manage education resources.
SABER - School Finance is one of several Policy Domains within Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER), an evidence-based program to help countries systematically examine and strengthen the performance of their education systems. The World Bank launched the SABER program to support the implementation of its Education Strategy 2020.
An effective school finance system facilitates the provision of learning resources, and therefore is fundamental to achieving educational outcomes. However, success in school finance must be measured by how funding is used, not simply by the amount of expenditure.
SABER-School Finance provides a comprehensive source for best practices in school finance for school finance advisors, policy makers, and researchers.
- SABER-School Finance collects data on school finance systems worldwide, compiling available information from existing sources as well as administering a questionnaire using key informants in partner countries.
- To benchmark school finance systems, SABER-School Finance analyzes collected data by country along 6 policy goals.
- Ensuring basic conditions for learning: School finance systems should create an environment that supports and encourages learning. To do so, systems must provide adequate resources to ensure that all students have the opportunity to receive a high quality basic education and set performance goals to drive the effective use of resources. Although standards of student achievement, as well as the costs to reach those standards may vary across countries and student groups, there is a minimum amount of resources required to produce learning outcomes.
- Monitoring learning conditions and outcomes: Accurate information on learning conditions and outcomes is necessary for informed decision-making. Data are particularly useful to encourage objective policy development in challenging political economy environments. As more data become consistently available, policymakers may be more likely to use them. Knowing which inputs are available will inform school finance policymakers about how funds are being used at the school level, and access to assessment results will show whether funds are being used effectively.
- Overseeing service delivery: In addition to creating and monitoring education policies, an efficient school finance system should confirm that resources are converted into learning opportunities at the provider level. The provision of high quality education requires adequate service delivery in addition to physical inputs. Reported public expenditure on education does not guarantee that education policy has been implemented, so it is imperative that school finance systems have mechanisms to measure the quality of learning opportunities in schools.
- Budgeting with adequate and transparent information: Although the Ministry of Finance often sets the overall allocation of resources for the education budget, sound budget preparation requires participation from many actors in the school finance system, including central and subnational education authorities. Throughout the process, information is essential to develop a budget that reflects sector priorities and to communicate that budget to education stakeholders.
- Providing more resources to students who need them: Access and success in education should not depend on a person’s background. However, as research suggests, socio-economic background, as well as other non-school factors of disadvantage, is often the largest determinant of whether students have difficulties in completing their education. Additional resources in schools may compensate for disadvantaged, and efforts on the demand side to reduce fees may increase the chances that the poorest and girls attend schools.
- Managing resources efficiently: Experience in developing and developed countries has shown that providing resources is not enough to ensure learning outcomes. Tracking inputs, outcomes, and service delivery is a strong start, but insufficient. Reviews of final expenditure are necessary to hold actors in the school finance system accountable to using resources for their intended purposes. Necessary mechanisms may also include how teachers are paid and monitored, for example.
- To further characterize school finance systems, SABER-School Finance organizes these data with additional supporting indicators, in 5 core areas.
- School Conditions and Resources: An adequate environment conducive to learning requires minimum quality standards, including essential teaching inputs, instructional conditions and other basic resources.
- Education Spending: Education spending is considered at various government levels and by the private sector, both in aggregate and per-student terms.
- Revenue Sources: The sources of funding and the mechanisms through which revenues are raised have implications for adequacy, sustainability, and equity in school finance.
- Allocation Mechanisms: The rules that govern intergovernmental resource flows, as well as the amount of discretion that governments give schools, affect the level of accountability, transparency, and performance in the system.
- Fiscal Control and Capacity: Providing the public with comprehensive and timely information on the government's budget and financial activities and opportunities to participate in decision making can strengthen oversight and improve policy choices.
- The SABER-School Finance team at the World Bank produces country reports that review competency in the 6 policy goals with the aim of identifying potential areas for targeted improvements in the school finance system, as well as areas of success to serve as examples to other countries.
- The SABER-School Finance Framework Paper outlines the objectives and conceptual framework for the benchmarking of school finance systems.
- The SABER-School Finance Summary Note presents a concise 2 page version of the Framework Paper.
- The data collection instrument is used to gather information from existing sources and partner countries.
- The classification rubric is a tool to assess progress toward the 6 policy goals.
- The SABER-Finance Country Reports provide a ratings of school finance systems by country or sub-national division.