What Are National Education Accounts?

As mentioned above, national education accounts are patterned after national health accounts, which exist for virtually all countries in the world. Thus far, full NEAs have been piloted in only five countries: Guatemala (a precursor to NEAs), Morocco, Turkey, El Salvador and Nigeria (state-level NEAs). NEAs follow the flow of funds from source to service provision using a set of matrices, tables, and charts. Essentially, the NEA aims to take the “financial pulse” of the education sector by answering the following questions: What are the sources of education funds? Who are the intermediate financing agents and how do they expend and distribute funds? To which education providers does the money go? What goods are procured, which services are produced and who benefits from those goods and services? The NEA carefully tracks the flow of funds from one actor to another, with the capability of disaggregating by education subsector (preschool, primary, secondary, non-formal, etc.) and by characteristics of the beneficiaries (urban versus rural, male versus female, etc.).

Data Sources and Collection

NEAs use public and private sector data, as well as data from multilateral and bilateral donors, nongovernmental organizations and other charitable organizations. Public sector data include records from local, state, and national governments, and generally come from education and finance ministries at the national level. Private sector data are used to track payments and investments from households and private corporations or organizations. Donor data may include loans and grants from multilateral or bilateral donors, or nongovernmental organizations. Complete and accurate data collection is the biggest challenge to creating NEAs. To the extent possible, secondary data are used to reduce costs, but many countries have limited pools of data.

Source: Using National Education Accounts to Help Address the Global Learning Crisis, Jacques van der Gaag and Pauline Abetti, Policy Brief, 2011-03

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