Achieving transparency in pro-poor education incentives

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What are the best ways to ensure that scholarships, conditional cash transfers, free school meals reach their intended beneficiaries? This book assumes that different models of design, targeting, and management of pro-poor incentives can prove more or less successful in maximizing efficiency, transparency, and accountability, and in minimizing the likelihood of errors, fraud, and corrupt practices. Comparing the cases of seven projects implemented worldwide, it demonstrates that some models may pose greater challenges to transparency and accountability than others (namely, targeted, in-kind, locally managed, or community-based). At the same time, these models may be the most adequate for local needs, especially if there are budget constraints, a vast and diverse territory, or demand for food at school.

The Indian case study was conducted by the Accountability Initiative. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) launched in 2001 envisaged a system of three school grants that are given as cash transfers to schools to meet basic school needs. In accordance with the design of SSA, these are the only finances within SSA over which the school has complete spending and decision making powers. Importantly, expenditures for these grants are expected to be undertaken in consultation with the School Management Committee (parent committees). These committees are also tasked with the responsibility of monitoring expenditures to ensuring accountability.

Drawing on the experience of the implementation of school grants in one state of India- Rajasthan to understand how the school grants provision works in practice, this case study specifically focuses on the following:

  • The institutional and planning structure for implementing school grants
  • Financial management process, in particular the flow of monies to schools
  • Expenditures at the school level
  • Transparency and accountability mechanisms
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