Extent to which explicit formula-based policies reallocate education resources to disadvantaged populations


SDG Indicator 4.5.3: The indicator includes both (a) a medium-term perspective approach; and (b) a longer-term one:

(a) Degree of national financing policy’s commitment to equalise education opportunity to primary and secondary education could be rated by four levels: (i) very low; (ii) low (e.g. there are policies to provide more resources to disadvantaged schools/students); (iii) medium (e.g. there are policies which reallocate at least x% of the education budget); (iv) high (e.g. the policies are well-targeted and effectively monitored).

(b) Percentage of public expenditure on education that is explicitly allocated to disadvantaged populations. Depending on the national context, disadvantaged populations may include members of ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, indigenous peoples or other groups.

Data source

National policy documents or existing qualitative data collections and detailed budget documents.

Two examples could inform the definition of such an indicator:

• The World Bank’s Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) comes closest to a potential source. Under the domain ‘School finance’ and policy goal 5 ‘Providing more resources to students who need them’, questions such as: ‘Are public resources available to students from disadvantaged backgrounds?’ and ‘Are there policies to provide more resources to schools or households with other disadvantaged students (ethnicity, gender, native language, urban/rural)?’ are asked. Data are collected in-country by local experts who ensure cross-country comparability. Policies are evaluated and scored at four levels, and results are verified with governments before publication.
• The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC/CEPAL) has carried out country reviews of social protection systems that collect similar data that are used for regional comparisons.

Source definition

UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Calculation method

(a) Indicator is a qualitative indicator derived from policy documents and/or qualitative exercises such as the World Bank’s System’s Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) school finance module.

(b) Indicator uses detailed budget lines to identify public spending directed towards vulnerable populations. This will require a detailed reference classification of education expenditures and an agreed list of vulnerable groups.

Formulae are still to be defined.

Data required

Policy documents and detailed education budget.


(a) Self-explanatory categories

(b) The higher the proportion of public spending directed towards the vulnerable, the more governments make efforts to redirect resources towards the most vulnerable.


A need for qualitative data on education systems calls for a new mechanism which will require (i) coordination by a UN organization; (ii) government endorsement of the assessment framework; and (iii) a role for experts to support governments in reporting.


The general aim of the indicator is to capture the effort countries make to equalise education opportunities through their financing system. The specific formulation reduces the scope of the indicator in two ways. First, it refers to ‘education’ resources, while other resources (e.g. cash transfers under the social protection budget) can also help equalise education opportunities. Second, it refers to ‘formula-based’ resource reallocation, while other approaches can also be used for this purpose.

Types of disaggregation

The indicator may be disaggregated by populations which are targeted in the funding formulae (e.g. poor, disabled, urban/rural etc.).