“Financien lo Justo!”: Monitoring education financing in Latin America and the Caribbean

In the 2030 Education Agenda, Member States committed to increasing public spending on education to a minimum of 6% of their gross domestic product (GDP), or 20% of their total public budget. This commitment had been previously made by Latin America and Caribbean Ministries of Education in the 2014 Lima Declaration.

A virtual platform to monitor public spending in education and foster regional dialogue

In this context, and as part of the initiative “Financien lo Justo! For a free and public education for all”, the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE) launched a Monitoring System of the Financing of the Human Right to Education in Latin America and the Caribbean last September.

The system is a virtual platform that compiles data and analysis of public funding for education in 20 countries of the region for the period 1998 to 2015.

The available information is organized into three analytical dimensions:

  • public financial effort: analyses how much States spend on education compared to their GDP and their total public budget, taking as reference points, respectively, 6% and 20%.
  • availability of resources per person in school age: divides the amount of resources that States invest in education by the number of people in school age in each country, taking as reference point the average of the poorest half of OECD countries.
  • equity in school access: looks at the gap between school access levels of segments of the population depending on their income.

Exploring the gap between the level of education financing in a given country and international parameters is useful in pressuring national governments to scale up their political will and take action.

As such, the platform contributes to civil society evidence-based advocacy, using official data, and paving the way to achieve adequate funding for public, free, and quality education in the Latin America region.

With this objective, analyses of the national data from the platform were elaborated in partnership with CLADE national coalitions in 16 countries, which are published in the system’s website.

In addition, CLADE organized virtual dialogues with these coalitions, grouped by sub-region. The participants shared reflections and interpretations on educational financing data in their countries, increasing their ownership over the system as an advocacy instrument, as well as pursuing new contributions and analysis.

These virtual meetings generated inputs and guidelines for updating and improving the system’s data.


The need for more resources for public education

The debates also pointed to the need for CLADE to continue supporting and disseminating national initiatives to demand more resources for public education. The advocacy work is based on the 4 S approach:

  • Size of the education budget – and, in that sense, tax justice is underlined as a fundamental element to guarantee an adequate, fair and sustainable tax base in the countries;
  • Share of the GDP and of the total public budget invested in education;
  • Sensitivity of educational spending, so that it prioritizes overcoming social gaps and guaranteeing the rights of marginalized groups of the population;
  • Scrutiny and social participation in the definition and monitoring of the execution of the education budget.

Thus, CLADE will develop a new indicator within the resource availability dimension (analyzing the resources for adult education) and a fourth dimension for the system, to observe the quality and sensitivity of the education budget spending.

In this monitoring and advocacy process, CLADE faces important challenges in the region: continuous deepening of austerity policies and cuts in public spending in different countries; tax evasion and avoidance; corruption; poor management of resources; the commodification of education; the closure of spaces for civil society participation, while criminalization and repression of protests increase; and the lack or insufficiency of data for different education financing indicators in some countries of the region, especially in Central America.

This situation encourages CLADE and its member coalitions to act to hold States accountable and committed to share with their citizens, in a transparent and sustained manner, reliable and disaggregated data on education funding.

This blog was originally written by Fabíola Munhoz from CLADE, and published on the GPE website.

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