Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2012
 
   
Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2013
 
C.3. Financial and human resources for education

The resources that societies invest in education foster economic growth, enhance productivity, contribute to personal and social development, and reduce social inequality. In order to reach the Education for All1 goals and meet Millennium Development Goal 2 on achieving universal primary education, it is necessary to have adequate financing for education. While education is financed from both public and private sources, the majority of the financing in most of the countries is allocated from total government budget. This remains one of the key fiscal choices made by Governments in developing and developed countries alike.

Countries in the Asian and Pacific region spend between 2 per cent and 10 per cent of GDP on education annually.

Public expenditure on education as a share of GDP measures how significant government spending on education is in relation to the total output of the economy. In 2008, the Oslo Declaration2 urged Governments to spend the equivalent of 4 per cent to 6 per cent of gross national product (GNP) on education.3 Of the countries in the Asian and Pacific region for which data are available, Bhutan, Fiji, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam met or surpassed this target of public expenditure on education in 2010. Other countries and areas that fell short of this target include Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Georgia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Macao, China, where expenditure would need to more than double in order to reach the upper level of the target, and Myanmar, where expenditure would need to increase almost eightfold.

Figure C.3-1
Public expenditure on education as a share of GDP, Asia and the Pacific, latest year (2010- 2012)

Figure C.3-1 Public expenditure on education as a share of GDP, Asia and the Pacific, latest year (2010- 2012)As a share of GDP, expenditure on education fell sharply in the last decade in Vanuatu, from almost 9 per cent in 2001 to about 5 per cent in 2009. In contrast, Kyrgyzstan, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal and Tajikistan increased their expenditure on education as a share of GDP by between 1 and 2 percentage points from 2001 to 2010.

In the region as a whole, the median expenditure on education as a share of GDP was about 3.5 per cent in 2011, which reflects that more than half of the countries in the region are at least approaching the 4 per cent minimum as recommended in the Oslo Declaration. However, there is significant variation across the region on this measure; at the high end, Timor-Leste spends the equivalent of more than 10 per cent of GDP on education, while at the lower end, Myanmar recorded less than 1 per cent.

Within the Asian and Pacific region, countries commit between 8 per cent and 34 per cent of total public expenditure to education.

Public expenditure on education as a share of total public expenditure is a better reflection of political commitment to education in relation to other national priorities since this measure is controlled by Governments (unlike GDP which is also affected by market forces). The Oslo Declaration recommends that countries spend between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of their total government expenditure on education. As shown in figure C.3-2, 11 countries or areas in the region (of those for which data are available) have reached or exceeded this target. These are Solomon Islands (34 per cent), Thailand (29 per cent), Malaysia (21 per cent), Singapore (21 per cent), Hong Kong, China (20 per cent), Nepal (20 per cent), the Islamic Republic of Iran (19 per cent), Kyrgyzstan (19 per cent), Maldives (17 per cent), Indonesia (15 per cent) and Macao, China (15 per cent). Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Timor-Leste spend between 8 per cent and 10 per cent on education as a share of total government expenditure, the lowest in the region for which recent data are available.

Figure C.3-2
Public expenditure on education as a share of total government expenditure, Asia and the Pacific, latest year (2010-2012)

Figure C.3-2 Public expenditure on education as a share of total government expenditure, Asia and the Pacific, latest year (2010-2012)Over the last decade, several countries have significantly increased expenditure on education as a share of total expenditure. A notable example is Nepal, where the share increased from 13 per cent in 2001 to more than 20 per cent in 2010. The shares in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic also increased by more than 4 percentage points between 2001 and 2011. For the region as a whole, the median expenditure in the latest year (2010-2011) was about 15 per cent.

The countries that meet or surpass the recommended threshold for expenditure on education as a share of GDP are generally not the same ones that meet or surpass the threshold for expenditure on education as a share of total public expenditure. This emphasizes the fact that neither of these two indicators should be examined in isolation. For example, public expenditure on education as a share of GDP in Timor-Leste is higher than in all other countries for which there are recent data. By contrast, the same expenditure as a share of total public expenditure in Timor-Leste is the lowest among all the countries with recent data. More information is needed to understand why this is the case, but recent time series data suggest that total public expenditure has been increasing rapidly over the last few years in most countries, and that the share allocated to education has not expanded at the same rate.

The variation in the performances of countries against these two indicators also suggests that, if countries meet only one of the thresholds (education expenditure either as a share of total public expenditure or as a share of GDP), it is possible that the country has not “allocated adequate domestic resources” to education as specified in the Oslo Declaration.

Public spending on secondary education is higher than on primary education, reflecting the resource intensity of the former.

Measures of public expenditure on education per student expressed as a share of per capita GDP describe public education funding per individual student in relation to the national output per individual. The data show increasing disparity between countries in the region regarding the amounts spent on tertiary and secondary students compared with the amounts spent on primary students.

Figure C.3-3
Public expenditure per student on primary, secondary and tertiary education as a share of per capita GDP, Asia and the Pacific, latest year (2009-2012)

Figure C.3-3 Public expenditure per student on primary, secondary and tertiary education as a share of per capita GDP, Asia and the Pacific, latest year (2009-2012)Generally, expenditure on primary education per student is lower than that on secondary education per student because secondary education, with a choice of subjects and specialized facilities, such as science laboratories, involves higher costs. The same is true for tertiary education.

In 2011,4 expenditure per primary student as a share of per capita GDP in the region ranged from 5 per cent in Brunei Darussalam to more than 28 per cent in Viet Nam. The shares for students in secondary education ranged from almost 6 per cent in Fiji to more than 32 per cent in Bhutan. In countries in the region for which recent data exist, expenditure per student as a share of per capita GDP in 20114 was, on average, about 15 per cent for primary students and almost 18 per cent for secondary students (see figure C.3-3).

Figure C.3-4
Pupil-teacher ratios in primary and secondary education, Asia and the Pacific, 2001 or earliest, and 2011 or latest

Figure C.3-4 Pupil-teacher ratios in primary and secondary education, Asia and the Pacific, 2001 or earliest, and 2011 or latestHowever, these results should be interpreted with caution as they are constructed from several sets of data that move independently. For example, more rapid expansion in enrolment in primary education than public expenditure on primary education, as well as growth in GDP that exceeds population growth, will result in a lower figure for per student public expenditure on primary education as a share of per capita GDP. The primary reason for this result, especially as it changes over time, is difficult to isolate without looking closely at the underlying data.

 

Figure C.3-4 Pupil-teacher ratios in primary and secondary education, Asia and the Pacific, 2001 or earliest, and 2011 or latestIn addition, these measures reflect only public expenditure and do not capture the role of private finance at any level of education. In countries where school fees are particularly high or where universities receive significant funding from private institutions, per student public expenditure might appear relatively low. This indicator is therefore only accurate as a measure of education resources per student where Governments are by and large the only source of education finance.

Some countries in the Asian and Pacific region have fewer than 10 pupils per teacher in their classrooms while others have more than 40.

In many countries in the region, the number of pupils per teacher at the primary level fell in the decade of the 2000s. The ratio decreased significantly in Timor-Leste (where it fell from 62 to 31 pupils per teacher), but increased in Pakistan, Samoa and Tajikistan. For secondary education, the ratio decreased considerably in Bhutan (where it fell from 32 to 21 pupils per teacher) but increased in the Cook Islands, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Samoa, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Large disparities exist within the region, with some countries recording as few as 8 primary school pupils per teacher in 2010 (Georgia) and others having more than 40 (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan). In 2011, the region’s primary school pupil-teacher ratio was 24, the same level as that of the world.

A similar pattern can be observed for the secondary level across the region. With the exception of Fiji, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Samoa and Uzbekistan, there was a decline in the pupilteacher ratio between 2001 and the latest year, and the regional average went from 19.6 in 1999 to 18.7 in 2011. This number, however, is still higher than the global pupil-teacher ratio of 17.3.

Pupil-teacher ratios are one indicator commonly used to assess education quality since the presence of a teacher is critical to student learning outcomes. High pupil-teacher ratios indicate that the quality of education, holding all else constant, is likely to be lower. These high ratios might exist for a variety of reasons, including inadequate public expenditure on education (discussed above), a lack of places in teacher training institutions, unattractive pay and conditions for teachers, or rapid growth in pupil enrolments. While this indicator is necessary for gauging the quality of education, it is not a sufficient measure of quality as teachers are only one of many inputs that are important to student learning outcomes (others might include classrooms and textbooks). Moreover, this indicator does not account for teacher quality, which would require measuring teachers’ qualifications, motivation, experience and other capabilities.

Further reading

Leading Group on Innovating Financing for Development. 2+3=8: Innovating in Financing Education– Report of the Writing Committee to the Task Force on Innovative Financing for Education. Paris, 2010. Available from www.leadinggroup.org/IMG/pdf_Innovating_in_Financing_Education_ BAT.pdf.

UNESCO. Mobilizing Resources for International Development Cooperation in Education: What Innovative Mechanisms and Partnerships? Paris, 2010. Available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001921/192179E.pdf.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Financing Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Meeting the Challenges of Expansion, Equity and Quality. 2011. Available from www.uis.unesco.org/Library/Documents/ Finance_EN_web.pdf.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Financing Education: Investments and Returns – Analysis of the World Education Indicators. 2002. Available from www.uis.unesco.org/Library/Documents/wei02_en.pdf.

Technical notes

Public expenditure on education (percentage of GDP, percentage of total government expenditure)
Total public expenditure (current and capital) on education. Expressed as a percentage of GDP or as a percentage of total government expenditure. GDP is based on national accounts reports from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). GDP levels may, in this case, not be comparable with GDP levels published elsewhere in this Yearbook.

Public expenditure per pupil: primary, secondary and tertiary education (percentage of GDP per capita)
Total public expenditure per pupil at each level of education, expressed as a percentage of GDP per capita.

Pupil-teacher ratio: primary and secondary education (pupils per teacher)
Average number of pupils (students) per teacher in primary or secondary education in a given school year, based on headcounts of both pupils and teachers. Aggregate calculations: UIS.

Sources

Source of resources for education data: UIS Data Centre. Data on public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP collected from annual financial reports by central or federal governments, or regional administrations. Data on GDP are normally available from national accounts reports from the bureau of statistics. Data for public expenditure on education as a percentage of total government expenditure collected from annual financial reports prepared by the ministry of finance, national accounts reports by the national statistical office, and financial reports from the various government departments engaged in education activities, especially the ministry of education. Data obtained: 13 June 2013.

Source of pupil-teacher ratio data: UIS. Collected from school registers, teacher records, school censuses or surveys for data on enrolment and teaching staff. Data obtained: May and June 2013.

____________________
1 Led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the global Education for All movement aims to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.
2 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, “Oslo Declaration: 8th Meeting of the High-Level Group on Education for All”, Oslo, 16-18 December 2008 (ED/EFA/2009/ME/1). Available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001794/179421E.pdf. Accessed 9 May 2013.
3 While the commitment to public expenditure on education is in relation to GNP, a lack of data for GNP in the region necessitates the use of GDP as a proxy for this measure.
4 Data for 2009 and 2010 were used when data for 2011 were unavailable.
 
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