How much do governments spend on education? Who pays for education and how are the resources spent? These seemingly simple questions are difficult to answer for many countries that lack sustainable systems to collect, disseminate and analyse data on education financing. To gain a complete picture of education spending in a given country, national statisticians must gather data from various sources, often using different data classification systems. In many cases, they are not able to compile data on education spending by households or non-governmental organizations, for example.

In response, the UIS works directly with countries to compile education expenditure data through an annual survey and helps to improve national statistical systems and adopt new methodologies, such as National Education Accounts (NEAs). The UIS helped to develop the NEA through a joint project with the UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP) and Pôle de Dakar, with the support of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

Through this country-level support, the UIS is also seeking to reduce data gaps and provide a more complete picture of education spending. With good quality data, governments and donors can see trends in the overall funding of education. They can also see the extent to which different levels of government and families are contributing to education. In short, they see the full picture in striving to provide quality education for all.

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