National Education Accounts (NEA):

Allocating Resources Transparently and Equitably to Meet Education Needs

February 20, 2009


The Education for ALL (EFA) initiative has led governments worldwide to attempt systemic reforms that will enable them to ensure universal primary education by 2015. Governments striving to increase enrollment, and improve female to male ratios, will necessarily need to confront the challenges of improving the allocation of scarce resources and the effective management of expenditures throughout their education systems.

Creative Associates International has developed a new tool, the National Education Accounts (NEA), to enable governments to measure financial flows in the education sector and compare their spending to policy directions. The NEA, adapted from National Health Accounts, maps the flow of funds from sources to uses, providing vital information on whether a nation is meeting its goals for education. With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Creative has implemented the NEA in countries as diverse as Morocco and Nigeria at the national level and at the state level, known as the State Education Accounts.

A unique tool, the NEA gathers information on all spending, from public, private and donor sources. The data derived from a relational database specifically designed for the NEA provides information in a way previously not readily available to public officials; it also identifies system-wide inequities and allows for a complete understanding of funding impact. With sustainability in mind, Creative trains in-country professionals to implement the NEA, from data gathering to manipulating the database and analyzing information.

NEA in Morocco

Creative assisted the Moroccan government in applying the NEA tool to their education system in 2005.  The major finding of that NEA study was that total expenditures in education were almost twice the amount estimated previously.  The government provided about 60 percent of those resources and families and private foundations provided the rest even though the public schools were free. Poor and rural families bore a heavy burden because of the high cost of transporting students to schools and contributed to the higher drop-out rates in the rural areas. Morocco was the first nation to use the NEA methodology.

NEA Adapted for Nigeria’s Kano and Zamfara States as a State Education Account (SEA)

In Kano, Nigeria’s most populous state, Creative adapted the NEA from a national undertaking to a State Education Account assisting the Kano state education officials to obtain critical information on total government expenditures on education including federal, state and local governments as well as private contributions from investors and households. The SEA was then implemented in Zamfara State and Creative assisted Zamfara education officials to analyze education financing flows. While Kano spent a significantly larger percentage of their State budget on education, Zamfara spent three times as much per child. The findings from Zamfara and Kano have led to a study of non-formal, Islamic education in both states. In addition, Kano state officials are now expanding the information obtained from SEA to gather data on basic education expenditures and forecast the cost of meeting EFA goals by 2015.

NEA Builds Capacity

Based on a systematic method for capacity building, the NEA not only provides essential information on the sources and uses of resources, but the process also enables ministries of education and finance to understand financial flows better and to be able to complete NEAs on a permanent, periodic basis.

For more information about Creative Associates and the National Education Accounts, please contact Technical Director Phyllis Forbes at

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