Funding for equity

  /    /  Funding for equity

Although the development of school desegregation policies does not depend exclusively (or even primarily) on educational funding, funding is certainly a necessary condition – though not sufficient – for the reduction of segregation. The underfunding of education impacts on school segregation in three different ways. Firstly, it induces the existence of cost sharing and co-payment mechanisms, both in public and in publicly funded private schools. Co-payment creates financial barriers to access for many students, while some schools may use these barriers as a selection mechanism. Secondly, it stimulates private expenditure, which gives room to models of educational differentiation that are not only diverse but also unequal in terms of quality. Learning opportunities are differentiated in terms of schedules, activities, and educational services, and contribute to the social and academic segregation of students. Finally, underfunding is also visible in notable differences in educational infrastructures and other material resources. In lower-income neighbourhoods, schools tend to have poorer facilities, and as a consequence are less attractive for some families.

In order to prevent these impacts, it is highly recommended to promote models of funding addressed to remove those economic barriers that hamper educational inclusion and achieve real gratuity. This can be achieved by combining the rise of public resources with the development of normative and other strategic tools that associate school fund to school needs and specific commitments.


Objective 3: Develop funding schemes tied to equity benchmarks and social needs

There are different strategies to design funding schemes oriented to incentivize schools’ commitment towards equity in school admission processes, to penalise them for selecting students, or to compensate those schools in most disadvantaged areas or attending the most vulnerable students.


  • Measure 3.1: Creating formula funding systems. Policymakers may set up variable systems of funding linked to a specific formula. The formula may include a number of factors (with different weights), associated to aspects such as the percentage of pupils with specific learning needs, the degree of stability of the European Guidelines to tackle school segregation 11 staff, or the need in school facilities. The aim of this instrument is to modulate public funding according to the characteristics and needs of schools. In the field of educational inclusion, therefore, the formula funding system should be able to allocate resources to schools according to their social complexity (and their capacity to be inclusive).


  • Measure 3.2: Condition part of the funding of subsidised schools to the achievement of objectives set by the administration and tied to the reduction of school segregation and to the inclusive education. By linking public funding to private schools to equity and desegregation objectives, private subsidised school will be impelled to enrol socially disadvantaged students and other students with specific learning needs. Together with other measures addressed to ensuring the balanced distribution of disadvantaged among the schools, this strategy may be crucial to eliminate the economic barriers that prevent a more inclusive education.


  • Measure 3.3: Controlling the costs of educational services and products such as textbooks, meals, or school uniforms. Some of these services and products are often not covered by public administration and become compulsory expenditures for families, which can add economic access barriers and increase school segregation. Therefore, it is crucial to establish the regulatory mechanisms to guarantee the non-lucrative nature of these educational services and products.


Objective 4: Expand funding to additional educational activities to reduce economic accessing barriers.

In addition to educational services, many public and private-subsidised schools offer additional educational activities during or after the school day. These activities include educational visits, school camps, and other extra-curricular activities. The absence of regulation and effective funding mechanisms for these activities generates large differences in the capacity of schools to offer additional educational activities, which can generate significant differences in the economic costs among schools. Despite the normally formal voluntary nature of these activities, its inclusion as services offered by some schools often constitutes an economic barrier for some families. The awareness of these cost differences may prevent some families from choosing certain schools and it increases the gap of learning opportunities among students.


  • Measure 4.1: Regulate the nature of additional educational activities. Authorities should include norms to prevent any form of economic, social or cultural discrimination in the planning of yearly additional educational activities.


  • Measure 4.2: Establishing a minimum number of additional educational activities publicly funded and free of charge for all schools in order to guarantee a minimum of these educational experiences to all the students.


  • Measure 4.3: Ensuring that any supply of additional educational activities follows the principle of accessibility and non-exclusion. While schools may offer additional activities that are not free of charge, under no circumstances should any pupil be excluded from accessing because of economic reasons. The participation of all pupils can be ensured by means of public resources (via calls for applications for grants) or by means of internal school redistribution systems.


  • Measure 4.4: To establish regulatory mechanisms that set a maximum for voluntary contributions from families in grant-aided schools and for exceptionally and justified reasons. The inclusion of a threshold can be associated with the suppression of the agreement or its reduction through the modification of the conditional funding formula (see Measure 3.2).