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Tool 3.3: Tips, Checklist and Examples

ECE Simulation Models

© GPE/Carine Durand


An important step for policy design is the development of a simulation model. Such a model then informs decision making for the development of the policies. Types of ECE simulation models are described and illustrated in this tool. Tips for ECE stakeholders to engage with costers and planners who develop models are provided in this tool.


Using this tool will enable ECE Technical Working Group (TWG) stakeholders to:

When to Use this Tool

In the Education Sector Planning (ESP) cycle, simulation models are typically developed after the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) when determining policy priorities.

  • Simulation models are helpful in “testing” the impact of various policy options to explore their relative feasibility, scalability, and sustainability.
  • Simulation models will support the “iterative process” – or repetitive process - of adjusting proposed priorities, strategies, activities, targets and the aforementioned costs for including these components in the ESP.
  • Apart from the ESP cycle, simulation models may be used to assess the financial feasibility, capacity requirements, and expected impact of a new envisaged ECE policy.

Key Information

The purpose of the simulation model is to project various aspects of the education sector and its costs over the period of the next Education Sector Plan (ESP), to ensure the financial sustainability and physical or operational feasibility of the envisaged policies.

A simulation model is not a fixed document, but rather  a tool used to test the impact of various policy options


Essentially, you are trying to simulate or “generate” possible scenarios using available data. Note that in contexts with decentralized governance arrangements, additional data sources may need to be considered to inform simulation models.

A simulation model is not a fixed document, but rather  a tool used to test the impact of various policy options.

Once the model structure is developed, parameters can be adjusted to reflect different policy options or targets and observe their impact on the total cost, financing gap, and needs for new teachers, classrooms, etc.

Simulation models help costers and planners identify scenarios or options within the ECE subsector. ECE stakeholders will work with costers and planners to provide subsector data needed to build models. ECE stakeholders will work with costers and planners to adjust options and targets to ensure they are aligned with the priorities envisaged. The models will be useful to inform decision-making to prioritize interventions with the funding available and set realistic targets

Essentially, the projections can be of two types, which we can call need-based and intervention-based. 

Need-based projections are driven by a target in terms of participation: in the case of ECE, the Net Enrolment Rate or the % of Grade 1 students with pre-school experience, for instance. All the financial projections are based on this target and resulting enrolment, and the costs associated with providing services for them (Example 1: Sao Tome and Principe simulation model). These models are commonly prepared as part of ESPs and are based on a comprehensive view of Education and ECE costs.

Intervention-based projections, less commonly used than need-based projections, assume an increase in the capacity to provide ECE services and/or in the demand for them from the SP interventions, for instance by building new schools/classrooms or reducing fees or other costs for families. The number of children enrolled will be derived from this increase in capacity or demand. Because they are driven by interventions, and often ignore existing core functions of the Ministry of Education, these models are generally not all-inclusive, but rather project costs that would be additional to the current education budget. In this way they are generally more detailed and less comprehensive than need-based projection models (Example 2: Lesotho ECE simulation tool).

Additional Resources