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Kobe University-UNESCO Project on Improving Education Finance

Governments around the world have made efforts to increase access to education, decrease education disparity, and deliver high quality education to all children. As a result, most countries have made progress in ensuring access to education. However some countries still face challenges in the areas of education quality and equity. One of the reasons can be attributed to limited capacity at the national and sub-national levels to plan and manage the sector efficiently and effectively. In this context, since 2013, UNESCO Bangkok and Kobe University had analyzed education finance and administration in the Asia-Pacific region especially in light of education decentralization policies. Given UNESCO’s expertise in education policy planning and evaluation and Kobe University’s experience in the analysis of education finance and administration, both institutions launched a joint capacity building project for selected South-East Asian countries with funding from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan (MEXT).

The workshop in Hanoi, Viet Nam (12–13 February 2015)©GSICS-Kobe University

In the first phase, UNESCO Bangkok and Kobe University reviewed the current education policy and situation in the ASEAN+6 countries especially and analyzed challenges in terms of education finance and administration through literature review and a regional meeting in Kobe, Japan (December 2013). Based on the findings from this phase, an English guidebook of analytical tools for education finance and administration was drafted in 2013. During this phase, it was found that while importance of effective and efficient education finance and administration is widely acknowledged, there is very little information in these areas available in local languages. Responding to the recommendations of the country participants, Kobe University translated the guidebook to three national languages (Lao, Khmer and Vietnamese) in early 2014. By using these translated guidebooks, capacity building workshops for central and provincial government officials in the targeted countries were organized during 2014 through early 2015.

The recent workshops were held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (9 – 11 February 2015) and Hanoi, Viet Nam (12 – 13 February 2015) under the coordination of Prof. Keiichi Ogawa, Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies (GSICS), Kobe University. Around 40 government officials participated in each workshop including the Minister and the Vice-Minister of Ministry of Education, Cambodia. The translated guidebook was used in the workshop and all sessions were offered with interpretation to their national languages. After the introduction of current education situation in each country, a lecturer from Kobe University explained different analytical tools for education statistics including basic and applied statistics by using each country’s case. Ms. Lina Benete and Ms. Akemi Ashida from UNESCO Bangkok’s Education Policy and Reform Unit participated the workshops, and delivered a presentation on the overview of education policy and practice with particular focus on education management and finance in the ASEAN+6 countries.

Throughout the workshops, the guidebook was highly appreciated by the participants including the Minister and the Vice Minister of Education, Cambodia, especially for using their national languages. The participants learned actively in each session and commented that the contents of training were easy to understand with national languages and the guidebook would be useful for future education planning. To further improve the relevance of the guidebook, it was recommended that additional modules to be developed specifically focusing on decentralization, since many of the countries are going through decentralization reforms in education.  Furthermore, the participants suggested that it will be more effective if the guidebook includes each country’s real cases. All the recommendations and comments from the participants will be taken into consideration to finalize the guidebook.

As a follow-up to this project, it was suggested that there are further challenges of financial management especially at the school level. The responsibility is delegated to school level in line with the decentralization reforms, however school level staff do not necessarily have enough skills for managing finance by themselves and there is a lack of appropriate guidance for school finance management.  Therefore it was decided that UNESCO and Kobe University will focus on School Based Finance in 2015 and develop a new training manual.

For more information, please contact Lina Benete [l.benete(at)] or Akemi Ashida [a.ashida(at)] at the Education Policy and Reform Unit.

Written by Akemi Ashida [a.ashida(at)]

 Related link:
Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies (GSICS), Kobe University