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Tool 2.3: List of Core ECE Cost and Financing Indicators and Variants

ECE Public Costing and Financing Indicators

Key Information

The main ECE costing and financing indicators are presented in Table 1 of the tool across three color-coded priority levels, based on their relative importance for understanding and projecting ECE public costs and financing.

Complementary indicators are listed together. For example, the lower priority indicator of "Public ECE expenditure as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product" follows the higher priority indicator of "Public ECE expenditure as a percentage of education expenditure".

The indicators in the tool refer to the national public (government) ECE costing and financing. In contexts where government financial management is decentralized, it may be important to compare indicator values across sub-national regions.

The indicators presented are those which relate to understanding and modelling public ECE costs and financing, and do not address private ECE costs and financing (unless explicitly stated).

The indicators are listed in two tables:

  1. Resources and expenditures: the levels of public investment in ECE, its composition, and the potential additional resources; and
  2. Strategic inputs: the main cost drivers of the ECE subsector, grouped under the sub-categories of: Teachers; Infrastructure; Learning materials; Social spending; Process costs; and Operational inputs.

In many cases, expenditure elements featured across indicators will have different data sources. A transparent process for reconciling various data sources will need to be determined.

Table 1: Resources and expenditures

Resource and expenditure indicators are crucial to understand the historic and current levels of public investment in ECE, its composition and the resources potentially available for the subsector.

Table 2: Strategic inputs

The following indicators are the main cost drivers of the ECE subsector. Setting appropriate targets for them will be imperative for sustainability.
Related indicators
  • Average teacher salary
  • Learner/Teacher ratio

Teacher compensation generally constitutes the vast majority of the ECE subsector (as well as in the other subsector). Understanding its determinant is key to ensure financial sustainability of the ECE policies.

An understanding of how ECE teachers are defined in the context is first needed to understand and calculate these indicators.  There may be several types of teachers (contracted by the government formally and/or volunteer teachers, for instance). The indicators which may be calculated will depend on how teachers are defined in the context.

Related indicators
  • Number of classes per classroom
  • Unit cost of a classroom (equiped)
  • Number of latrines per learner
  • Unit cost of latrine
  • Average cost of classroom rehabilitation

In the case of expansion policies for ECE, infrastructure is often the second biggest challenge (after the training, recruitment and remuneration of teachers).

In addition to classrooms and physical infrastructure, other infrastructure considerations include but are not limited to: electricity, generator, and water.

Related indicators
  • Number of (full) learning Material (LM) kits per class
  • Unit cost of a LM kit

This is often the third largest cost driver in strategies of expansion or improvement of the quality of the ECE sub-sector. Unlike other sub-sectors, where learning materials often refer to manuals, which are enumerated individually and compared to the number of students in the school or class, in ECE learning materials are often referred to as kits, suitable for one class.

Related indicators
  • Unit cost of social spending

In many contexts ECE provision includes other services beyond strictly education e.g. school-feeding, nutrition, basic health services. Depending on the scale and costs of such services they may constitute a significant proportion of public ECE expenditure.

Related indicators
  • Unit cost of pre-service training an ECE teacher
  • Unit cost of in-service training an ECE teacher
  • Inspection/Pedagogic support cost
  • Infrastructure maintenance and operational costs
  • Infrastructure maintenance and operational costs
  • Percentage of “other” recurrent ECE expenditure

The following indicators refer to costs that are not directly associated with inputs, but are essential to subsector operations and for quality services. They are used for financial projections to add different levels of detail when information is available.

Related indicators
  • Printing costs
  • Workshop and external meeting costs
  • Field work cost

The following indicators relate to the unit costs of inputs that will be necessary to the Education Sector Plan’s implementation, including related policies, standards, monitoring and quality assurance, etc. They are essentially used for the costing the operational plan (or Action Plan, term dependant on context). Below are only a few examples. The ESA may provide an opportunity to collect data for calculating these indicators, although they can be, and are often, calculated later for the operational plan (which is why they are marked at non-essential at this stage). More details are provided later in the Toolkit in Section 4 relating to Operational Plans.


Click on "Read More" for examples of projections of ECE expenditures, by increasing levels of complexity and insight.

Model description including related indicators Comments
Model 0:
ECE expenditure = ECE expenditure as a % of education expenditure x Education expenditure
This is not really a projection model, but a mere projection of the ECE budget as a percentage of the total education expenditure. No detail can be put into how ECE services will be managed or improved.
Model 1:
ECE expenditure = Public ECE Unit Cost x Projected number of learners
This very basic model allows for the consideration of various targets of target population coverage (Gross or Net Intake Rates, translating into numbers of learners), and for an increase (for instance) of the unit cost to promote better learning conditions (although no detail can be provided as to why or how this unit cost would increase).
Model 2:
ECE expenditure = Teacher compensation / Percentage of the recurrent ECE expenditure spent on teacher compensation = Teacher Salary x Learner/Teacher Ratio x Projected number of learners / Percentage of the recurrent ECE expenditure spent on teacher compensation
This model gives some more details about the teacher policy relating to ECE keeping in mind that teacher salaries are likely to be the main component of the ECE recurrent budget. Targets can be set for teacher remuneration, learner/teacher ratios and target population coverage. The remaining recurrent expenditure is expressed as a percentage of the total, which can for instance increase to promote better learning conditions.
Model 3:
ECE expenditure = Teacher compensation + Learning materials + Other recurrent costs
These models include various levels of details on the recurrent expenditure other than teacher remuneration. In each case, an “other recurrent cost” estimate is expressed as a percentage of the total recurrent expenditure, to include all the elements that cannot be detailed.
Model 4:
ECE expenditure = Teacher compensation + Learning materials + Social + Inspections/pedagogic support + Infrastructure maintenance and operation + …. + Other recurrent costs

Download the tool

2.3 List of core ECE cost and financing indicators
2.3 List of core ECE cost and finance indicators (French)
2.3 List of core ECE cost and finance indicators (Spanish)