Proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection)


SDG Indicator 1.a.2: Total general (local, regional and central) government expenditure on education (current, capital, and transfers), expressed as a percentage of total general government expenditure on all sectors (including health, education, social services, etc.). It includes expenditure funded by transfers from international sources to the government.

Data source

The source of data varies by country depending on the availability:

For public expenditure on education: government expenditure datasets, expenditure reports in national and sub-national budgets, the IMF Government Finance Statistics database, Public Expenditure Reviews published by the World Bank and others, the World Bank’s BOOST dataset, and other national or international sources as available.

For total government expenditure: the source of total government expenditure would be from a comparable source as the total amount of public expenditure on education. For example, if the expenditure amount is derived from national budget documents then total expenditure would also be derived from national budget documents.

Note that if governments have an official indicator for this SDG, then this would be the source.

Source definition

UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Calculation method

Total government expenditure on education in all levels combined is expressed as a percentage of total general government expenditure (all sectors).


A high proportion of government expenditure on education demonstrates a high government priority for education relative to other public investments. The Education 2030 Framework for Action has endorsed a benchmark for this indicator, which encourages countries to allocate at least 15% to 20% of their public expenditure to education.


In some instances, data on total public expenditure on education refer only to the Ministry of Education, excluding other ministries may also spend a part of their budget on educational activities as well as the local governments that receive block grants and do not report how much they spend on education. Although the IMF aims to publish data on total general government expenditure following common definitions based on the Government Finance Statistics Manual, in practice this concept (and what it includes) may differ between countries.


The indicator is used to assess a government's emphasis on education relative to its investments in other sectors. The indicator shows how much of a priority education is for a given government, over time or in comparison with other countries.

Quality standards

The indicator should be produced based on consistent and actual data on total government expenditures on education and total government expenditures on all sectors combined. Criteria for quality assessment include: data sources must include proper documentation; data values must be representative at the national population level and, if not, should be footnoted; data are plausible and based on trends and consistency with previously published/reported values for the indicator.

Types of disaggregation

Possibly, by level of education.