School funding and equity in Rwanda: final report
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In 2009 Rwanda introduced 9 Years Basic Education (9YBE) and progress on access to primary education in recent years has been highly impressive. However, the challenges still faced by the Rwandan education system remain significant. These include the need to ensure adequate funding, improvements in quality and ensuring great equity. One key part of responding to these challenges requires an efficient and fair school funding system. School funding comes from either public or private sources – for example, parental contributions. These parental contributions can either be for indirect costs of schooling, such uniforms, or for direct costs in the form of financial payments to schools. This research assesses the impact on school funding of the direct financial parental contributions in two contrasting Rwandan Districts – one in a relatively better off urban area and one in a poorer rural area. It demonstrates a clear difference between the two areas. In the wealthier area, parental contributions more than double schools' non-salary spending. In contrast, in the rural area, voluntary parental contributions have a marginal impact on school budgets. These findings raise issues about both equity of funding and whether the Rwandan school system is helping to achieve greater equality of opportunity. The research suggests that schools with pupils with more need are actually worse funded than schools with pupils with less need. This acts against achieving greater equality of opportunity. It is important that the issue of school illegally turning pupils away because their parents do not make a financial contribution – something for which we find some evidence – is addressed. However, more fundamentally, the Rwandan government should develop a more targeted state funding system, with more funding being allocated to schools which have the highest levels of need and least ability to attract additional parental contributions.