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Resource Allocation Process

There is a variety of mechanisms which can be used to allocate public resources efficiently, effectively and equitably. The following recommended readings provide information on these mechanisms, how they are used in practice, and case study examples.


Al-Samarrai, Samer. 2003. Financing Primary Education for All: Public Expenditure and Education Outcomes in Africa. Brighton, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.

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 MDGs in education are to be achieved. (Abstract in the Report)

Dehn, Jan., Reinikka, Ritva. and Svensson, Jakob. 2003. Survey Tools for Assessing Performance in Service Delivery. Da Silva, Luiz A. Pereira. and Bourguignon, François. (eds.), The Impact of Economic Policies on Poverty and Income Distribution: Evaluation Techniques and Tools. World Bank and Oxford University Press, pp. 191-212.

It has become increasingly clear that budget allocations, when used as indicators of the supply of public services, are poor predictors of the actual quantity and quality of public services, especially in countries with poor accountability and weak institutions. This chapter argues that microeconomic-level survey tools are useful not only at the household or enterprise level but also at the service provider level to assess the efficiency of public spending and the quality and quantity of services. The two microlevel surveys discussed here, the public expenditure tracking survey (PETS) and the quantitative service delivery survey (QSDS), both obtain policy-relevant information on the agent (say, a district education office) and the principal (say, the ministry of finance or a parent-teacher association). Similarly, repeat PETSs or QSDSs can be used as tools to evaluate the impact of policy changes. (A summary of introduction)

Di Gropello, Emanuela. (ed.). 2006. Meeting the Challenges of Secondary Education in Latin America and East Asia: Improving Efficiency and Resource Mobilization. Washington, DC, World Bank.

In a context of increased primary school enrollment rates, secondary education is appearing as the next big challenge for Latin American and East Asian countries. This report seeks to undertake a detailed diagnostic of secondary education in these two regions, understand some of the main constraints to the expansion and improvement of secondary education, and suggest policy options to address these constraints, with focus on policies that improve the mobilization and use of resources. (Abstract in the World Bank website)

Gauthier, Bernard. 2006. PETS-QSDS in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Stocktaking Study. Washington, DC, World Bank.

The delivery and access of basic services to the poor, particularly health, education, water and sanitation, is at the heart of the development agenda. Indeed, most donors, in the framework of the Millennium Development Goals and the Africa Action Plan, have promoted increased government budgetary allocations in health and education sectors to reach the poor. While such approach is certainly necessary, it is however not sufficient to ensure improvement in service delivery performance. Public service provision could be affected by institutional inefficiencies such as leakage of public resources, weak institutional capacity and inadequate incentives. Indeed, even if spending is officially allocated to services that target the poor, funds may not necessarily reach frontline service providers, and effectiveness of services may consequently be affected by poor incentives, absenteeism, and poor quality. Two types of service provider surveys, Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS) and Quantitative Service Delivery Survey (QSDS), have been implemented in the last ten years in about two dozen developing countries to address questions of efficiency and equity of public expenditures and service delivery. This study examines PETS and QSDS carried out in Africa with the objective of assessing their approaches, main findings and contributions. It seeks to identify a common framework in order to increase compatibility among tracking surveys and to propose potential future surveys and follow-up work. (From the Introduction)

Miller, Kirsten. 2002. Policy Brief: Resource Allocation: Targeting Funding for Maximum Impact. Colorado, Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)

The American debate over education reform is tremendously complex. One key question is the extent to which student performance gains are linked to education resources. Over the years, some researchers have questioned whether additional education resources impact student achievement - essentially, whether money matters. As more states undertake systemic reform, policymakers and administrators are likely to face hard choices about resource allocation. One thing, at least, is clear: Educating children costs money. But just how much money is needed, and how can policymakers and administrators maximize the use of resources to increase student achievement? The purpose of this policy brief is to examine the connections between student achievement and resource allocation and to provide policymakers with guidance in the area of resource allocation. Although overall spending levels are an important component of this discussion, the key may not be simply to spend more - but rather, to spend available resources more wisely. (From the introduction)

Ogawa, Keiichi. 2004. Public Expenditure on Education and Resource Management: Case of Zambia. Journal of International Cooperation in Education, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 133-143.

This paper examines how Zambia allocates public resources. The paper is divided into two parts: first it examines the extent to which public resources for education are used efficiently, particularly as a linkage with educational outputs, in comparison to other sub-Saharan African countries; secondly, the study investigates the degree to which public resources are distributed efficiently and equitably by evaluating teacher allocation. The paper concludes that compared to other sub-Saharan African countries, the share of public education expenditure in Zambia is smaller even though its public resources are employed more efficiently than other sub-Saharan African countries. However, when examining the allocation of teachers as well, public resources are not used efficiently or equitably. There is a wide disparity of teacher-student ratio at the primary level across the country as well as among and within provinces. The paper recommends that a standardised management approach to re-allocate the resources in teachers should be adopted, which will increase access to schooling as well as to improve student promotion. (Abstract in the eldis website)

Pan, Diane., Rudo, Zena H., Schneider, Cynthia L. and Smith-Hansen, Lotte. 2003. Examination of Resource Allocation in Education: Connecting Spending to Student Performance. Texas, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

This document reports on a study on the relationship between resources and student performance. The study examined district-level patters improve student performance, and barriers and challenges to efficient resource allocation faced by districts and schools. The study took place in independent school districts in Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana. Data for the study were collected from national, state, and local fiscal, staffing, and demographic records and information; interviews with superintendents, directors of instruction, chief financial officers, personnel directors, principals, and other district staff; focus groups composed of administrators; and teacher surveys. Both qualitative and quantitative data were analyzed using various methods, including multivariate models, ANOVAs, and regression analysis. The findings from the research demonstrated a strong relationship between resources and student success. The results indicated that allocating resources within select areas and for certain practices might make a significant impact o student performance. Both the level of resources and their explicit allocation seemed to affect educational outcomes. Four appendices detail the variables used in the data analyses, data-collection protocols and procedures, analyses of the data, and tables showing fiscal and staffing data. (ERIC Abstract; summary)

Rawlings, Laura B. 2004. A New Approach to Social Assistance: Latin America’s Experience with Conditional Cash Transfer Programs. Washington, DC, World Bank. (Social Protection Discussion Paper Series No. 0416)

This paper reviews the experience of the Latin America and Caribbean region in introducing conditional cash transfer (CCT) programmes which provide money to poor families conditional upon investments in human capital, usually sending children to school and/or bringing them to health centers on a regular basis. In particular, the paper reviews seven conditional CCT programmes, namely: Bolsa Escola, Brazil; PETI, Brazil; Familias en Acción, Colombia; PRAF II, Honduras; PATH, Jamaica; PROGRESA (Oportunidades), Mexico; and Red de Protección Social, Nicaragua. The experience with the rapid introduction of conditional cash transfer programs in Latin America and Caribbean holds several lessons regarding the reform of social assistance and the introduction of large-scale social experiments more generally. (Abstract in the eldis website)

Reinikka, Ritva. 2001. Recovery in Service Delivery: Evidence from Schools and Health Centers. Reinikka, Ritva. and Collier, Paul. (eds.),

Uganda’s Recovery: The Role of Farms, Firms and Government. Washington, DC, World Bank, pp. 343-369.
It is commonly held that Uganda had a well-functioning social service delivery system in the 1960s. The subsequent economic and social decay all but decimated this system, however. Undoubtedly, institutional recovery is more complex than implementing policy reforms by “a stroke of the pen”. While evidence on economic performance is fairly readily available, much less information exists on Uganda’s institutional recovery during the past 15 years, either in terms of institutional assessments or systematic recording of performance indicators. This chapter sheds light on service delivery in education and health. The two subsequent chapters, which explore household responses to recent policy initiatives in these two sectors, complement this analysis. The principal motivation for the study reported in this chapter was the substantial increase in public spending on basic services, albeit from a small base, since Uganda’s recovery started in the late 1980s, while several officially reported outcome and output indicators remained stagnant. The most obvious disparity in output indicators was in primary school enrollments. Despite increases in budgetary allocations for education, officially reported enrollments increased only slightly during the first half of the 1990s. The hypothesis for the study was that actual service delivery, or output, was much worse than budgetary allocations implied because public funds, or inputs, were subject to capture by bureaucrats and did not reach the intended facilities. To test this hypothesis, the study’s author compared budgets and actual spending in the primary education and health care sectors. (Paragraphs of the paper)

Ross, Kenneth N. and Levacic, Rosalind. (eds.). 1999. Needs-Based Resource Allocation in Education via Formula Funding of schools. Paris, IIEP.

This book explores a range of conceptual, methodological, and empirical issues concerned with the application of needs-based resource allocation in education via formula funding of schools. The notion of ‘needs-based formula funding’ employed in this discussion refers to the impartial application of an agreed set of explicit rules to allocate educational resources in a manner which ensures that schools receive what they need in order to deliver a pre-specified quality of education. The book is presented in three main parts: the policy context for needs-based formula funding, technical matters related to the construction of funding formulae, and case studies in five countries. The conclusion offers a ‘checklist’ for senior decision-makers in Ministries of Education that highlights the pre-conditions for undertaking successful implementation of needs-based formula funding. The main message that arises from the book is that needs-based formula funding of schools offers considerable benefits to both centralized and decentralized school systems in terms of increased levels of equity, efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, and accountability. (From the back cover)

UNESCO. 2005. Education Resource Projections in the Context of Sector-Wide Development Planning - Education Policies and Strategies 10. Paris, UNESCO.

This document is the report of a meeting, the “Technical Workshop on Sector-Wide Education Resource Projections” that took place at UNESCO Headquarters (Paris, 6-10 June 2005), with participation of officials and specialists representing 26 Member States, as well as UNESCO field offices. The report is not merely a record of the aforementioned technical workshop. It has been enriched by the countries’ national reports, prepared for presentation at the workshop by country representatives, and which include descriptions of the current status of their national EFA and/or sectoral planning efforts, their partnership arrangements with development agencies and civil society, the financing and expenditure frameworks they have put into place, and an assessment of their capacities in producing resource projections for educational development planning and the further challenges of achieving the EFA goals. Furthermore, this document encompasses the reflections of the UNESCO experts and consultants on their findings and experience in the field, in support of national educational planning, especially in the context of EFA achievement. This report discusses issues arising in national education development, in the changing context of development cooperation for EFA. It describes the rationale and the need for simulation and resource projection tools throughout national development planning processes from the perspective of both national participants and international experts. The challenges identified and the observations made in the countries’ reports illustrate what still needs to be overcome, even where some investment has already been made in resource projection modeling and its utility embraced. Some of the simulation models used been very partial, focusing on only a sub-sector of the education system. Some countries have experienced difficulties in completing simulation models due to a lack of current, reliable data on which to base projections; and lacking adequate information on the resources provided or which are available, it has also been difficult to estimate those finance gaps which remain over and above domestic and external resource mobilisation, thus challenging the production of ‘credible’ EFA plans. (From Introduction in the publication)

World Bank. 2005. Cambodia: Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS) in Primary Education. Washington, DC, World Bank.

Weaknesses in Cambodia’s public expenditure management system - including the difficulty in channeling funds down to service providers - have resulted in costly inefficiencies in the effectiveness of expenditures in improving social welfare outcomes. In response to these problems, the Royal Government of Cambodia initiated implementation in 2000 of the Priority Action Program (PAP), which was intended to delivery resources to front line service delivery units in the priority sectors in a timely manner. The introduction of PAP in education also represented a major change in terms of resource allocation and education sector strategy. PAP education was launched in 10 provinces in 2000 and expanded to cover all provinces in 2001. PAP shifted the focus of education policy toward basic education, in general, and demand-side constraints in particular. The assessment of the primary education Priority Action Program (PAP 2.1), which provides for schools’ operational budgets and accounts for over one quarter of the entire PAP budget in education is the subject of this report, which is based on a survey of two hundred schools in seven provinces carried out in 2004. (From the Executive Summary)

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