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In most countries there will be laws that govern the accessibility of budgets. While School Management Committees (SMCs) in every country should have access to the school budget (budget management is likely to be one of their mandated roles) the levels of public accessibility may differ. Depending on what type of group you are working with you may need to go through a particular procedure to gain access to the school budget. The role (and power) of the implementing organisation is key in this.

Once the budget is accessed, the supporting organisation may need to translate the budget into an understandable format, and support community members or the SMC to engage with it (see the questions below).

Questions to engage people with the school budget:

How much is the total budget? What are the different sources of funding? Who contributes the most? Often parental / guardian contributions  will not be included in the budget information  so it can be useful to run a separate activity to look at these contributions,  for example, asking parents to list the different contributions  they make to the education of their children, at different times of year. For example, in 2004, The Family Literacy Project, in KwaZulu Natal Province, South Africa, found that although registration fees were only, on average, 51 Rand, other costs associated with education (uniform, transport, sports days, food, building maintenance and stationary) totalled 1,073 Rand.

What is the expenditure per pupil (i.e. total school budget / no. of pupils)?

What are the different types of expenditure for example: teachers’ salaries, books, school maintenance, etc.? What are the most important areas for expenditure? What is missing? How would you allocate the expenditure differently?

Is the budget fair? Does it favour one specific group?

How much would the school budget need to increase to allow all children in this area access to school would this be on the same cost sharing levels?


Content of budget

Process of the budget

Informing the budget

Income analysis, user fees and parental costs

Procurement policies


It can be useful to use a

(c) Action Aid
(c) Action Aid

Budget Chapatti Diagram

power relations in a budget process more

deeply. This involves placing a circle

representing the school budget at the centre

of the page and then thinking about all the

education stakeholders, cutting out circles

of different size to represent the power and

influence they have in the budget making

process. Laying these circles in relation to

the school budget, with their placement

representing geographical distance from the

school helps map out who is involved in

budget decision-making and how. It can also

be useful to look at what it is that gives the

different people power, and whether this

power is positive. Does it help the system

function effectively and democratically?