General secondary education in Tajikistan consists of basic education and high school and is mandatory from age seven to seventeen (Law on Education, 2004). Public education covers infrastructure, textbooks, school meals and teachers.
Parents face considerable costs when sending their children to school, including direct costs (uniforms, textbooks and food) and indirect costs (school repairs, supplies and operational costs). Although education is planned and supervised at the central government, on financing mechanism, 69% of educational expenditures (or 73% when extra-budgetary funds and donor funds are excluded) is decentralized to local governments.
Since 2010, all general education schools receive their budgets according to a per capita financing (PCF) formula set by Ministries of Finance and Education. Schools prepare their budgets according to the formula, then submit to districts (rayons), which submit an aggregated budget to provinces (oblasts) and finally end at the Ministry of Finance. The formula has been revised to better reflect the different needs of schools such as geographic location, type of schools, and multi-language requirements. The formula set the minimum amount per student at TJS 600 (US $ 58.5) in 2013, and per school at TJS 30000 (US $2924) in general education. Per student global spending (basic education) in 2011 was TJS 484 (US $ 105). The total budget for secondary education (i.e. compulsory education) was TJS 824.6 million (US $ 80 million, or 24.6% of total education expenditure) for 1.7 million students (85% of total school-aged population).
Government spending in education was US $ 325.57 million in 2015, corresponding to 16.39% of total government expenditure). School -aged population is 2 million people (839 000 corresponding to primary and 1.2 million corresponding to secondary), corresponding to 22% of total population.
The National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2020, although not assigning budgets, has a set of priorities regarding vulnerable groups:
- introducing inclusive education, including special education for children with disabilities
- creating conditions to continue education for girls after they receive compulsory education
- development of supplemental education for children as a tool to respond to individual needs, including the ones from risk groups
- establishment of the support system for rural area students, in vocational education programs
- ensuring access of national minorities to receive education in their native language, preserving cultural and language diversity.
Provision of one-time hot meals for students of primary classes (preferably 6-year old, girls, children-orphans and children from low-income families) and children with special needs. It reached 395 thousand schoolchildren (20% of school aged population) every year from 2000 rural schools in 52 districts. Total budget in 2016-2017 was TJS 12.3 million (US $ 1.2 million), corresponding to 0.37% of total education expenditure. World Food Program contribution was 69%, Government contribution was 17%; and Parent-Teacher Associations provided 14%).
The Ministry of Education of Tajikistan is implementing a program to enhance access to student-friendly education environment and improve learning conditions in selected schools (US $ 30 million) and co-financing from the Islamic Development Bank (US $ 6 million), corresponding to 11% of total government expenditure in education. The project reach was 268 000 students (13% of total school-aged population). Project activities included access to student friendly school environment and suitable equipment and facilities, especially for cases of insufficient classroom space, in newly established settlements, triple-shift schools and schools with outdated infrastructure.
The CCP is designed to help expand access to education as well as to promote school attendance. The CCP is targeted at students in grade 1–9, and the compensation is limited to a maximum of two students per family. Given that the share of low-income families, a local committee identifies those 15% of students most in need. The annual benefit is TJS 40 (US $ 3.9), paid in two instalments. The list of students entitled to the benefit is reviewed every six months. The CCP, while still operating in 28 districts, is however being gradually replaced by the TSA from the beginning of 2018. The TSA is an unconditional cash transfer program where beneficiaries are identified through a proxy means test (PMT). The objective is to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable by providing support to families instead of delivering transfers for specific purposes, meaning it won’t be conditional to education. The TSA is managed by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MHSP) and is currently in place in 40 districts. In 2016, the TSA reached 583 households and 4093 people, that correspond to 7.1% of the households from the districts; and it had a budget in 2017 of TJS 41.5 million (US $ 4 million), reaching 0.17% of total public spending.