Value for Money in School Education

Smart Investments, Quality Outcomes, Equal Opportunities

Policymaking has always been a matter of making choices, managing trade-offs and balancing multiple goals and priorities to make complex budgetary decisions. Yet, the past few years have seen a rising number of priorities facing policymakers, hence mounting pressure to enhance the efficiency of public spending. There is a strong case for public investment in high-quality education as it leads to a range of economic outcomes as well as broader social outcomes for both individuals and society. But while high-quality education will continue to enable individuals and societies to thrive and recover from disruptions, education ministries will need to rethink the way they invest in education to ensure that education systems deliver greater value for money. Following an introduction laying out the context, this publication first takes stock of the wealth of economic returns and broader social outcomes derived from high-quality education, making the case for continued public investment. It then turns to the examination of smart ways of investing in education and examines key policy levers that can help enhance value for money: governing and distributing school funding to make the most of education investments; achieving educational equity alongside greater efficiency; and planning, monitoring and evaluating the efficient use of school funding.

Published on November 29, 2022Also available in: French


Abbreviations and acronyms
Executive summary
The importance of human capital for economic outcomes
The broader social outcomes of education: Educating for thriving individuals and societies
Governing and distributing school funding: Effectively connecting resources and learning
Using school funding to achieve both efficiency and equity in education
Planning and monitoring the use of school funding to improve equity and performance
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Key messages

Value for money

Pressure is mounting for policymakers to enhance the efficiency of public spending in all sectors, including education, despite the strong economic and social case for continued public investments.

Smart investments

The pursuit of efficiency and equity in education can work together through smart investments in four areas: high-quality early childhood education and care, teacher quality, reducing educational failure and fostering equal educational opportunity, and adapting school networks to changing demand.

Careful design

Policymakers need to carefully design funding mechanisms, pay attention to budget planning, and build a culture of systematic evaluation in education to ensure alignment with education objectives, transparency, accountability and capacity building.