ECD Costing

Cost analysis which is commonly referred to as “costing” is the process of identifying and examining the costs of the inputs of an intervention or program, and how those costs and inputs are distributed. Cost data are crucial for advocacy, budgeting and planning, and resource allocation including the critical relationship between cost and quality. Costing initiatives in this manner is increasingly important to the efficiency and effectiveness of Early Childhood Development programs.

There are diverse tools and guides that can facilitate the costing of ECD programs. Selecting the appropriate tool and conducting cost analysis is a complex task. This knowledge resource repository from ECDAN aims at enabling national and international ECD stakeholders and anyone interested in ECD costing to have easy access to available costing tools and guides.

Check our comparison table to help you choose among the various cost tools.

Costing Tools

Brookings Childhood Cost Calculator (C3)

Costing approach: Micro-costing/Ingredients-based costing

ILO Care policy Investment Simulator

Costing approach: Macro-simulation

UNICEF ECE Accelerator Simulation Model

Costing approach: Macro-simulation

USAID Education Cost Analysis Approach

Costing approach: Micro-costing/Ingredients-based costing

Simulation for Education (SimuED) UNESCO

Costing approach: Macro-simulation

EiE Cost Capture Template

Costing approach: Micro-costing/Ingredient costing

J-PAL Detailed Costing Template

Costing approach: Micro-costing/Ingredient costing

Technical guides

The cost analysis guidance note is organized into two main parts. The opening part outlines common cost questions that USAID staff and implementing partners, partner governments, research organizations, academics, and other stakeholders may be asking, and presents an overview of analytical methods suited to answering these different questions such as ‘Why Invest in cost measurement?’.  It also describes typical cases of cost analysis results in utilization and broader applicability of findings. USAID staff, partner governments, and commissioners of cost analyses will find this part useful. The second part of this document contains a practical guide to implementing cost data analyses, with templates and resources. This part is designed for researchers, evaluators, and cost analysts. This guide is designed to be applicable to all types of cost and expenditure analysis, with and without impact evaluation data.

The costing approach adopted in this resource analyses actual expenditures incurred from interventions and adjusts for currency and inflation. Amortization or depreciation is not applied, and costs and benefits are not discounted over time.  Also, all stakeholders including donor(s), implementing partner, partner government, non-governmental sector, and private individual costs towards the intervention are counted. With regards to inflation and currency conversion, the guide recommends that the standard order of operations is currency conversion first and inflation adjustments second. This recommendation is to help maintain methodological consistency across the portfolio.

Section three of the UNICEF ECE Accelerator toolkit focuses on establishing the vision for the ECE subsector for the Education Sector Plan (ESP) and has a set of tools to support this process including Tips, a Checklist, and Examples of ECE Simulation Models. Simulation models are typically developed after the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) when determining policy priorities during the preparation of ESP- and the ECE components of that plan. A simulation model is helpful in “testing” the impact of various policy options to explore their relative feasibility, scalability, and sustainability, supporting the “iterative process” – or repetitive process – of adjusting proposed priorities, strategies, activities, targets and the costs for including these components in the ESP. 

Sections, templates and tools on the ECE toolkit build and feed onto one another, however, the tools in section 3.3 of the toolkit – Tips, a Checklist, and Examples of ECE Simulation Models– can also be used independently depending on the need of the user. The tools can be relevant and applicable in the context of developing ECE plans in general – for example, they may be used to support the formulation of an ECE plan for a funding/grant opportunity, or for guiding a subsector reform. 

There are two types of projections indicated in the ECE Simulation model examples: – the need-based (Example 1: Sao Tome and Principe simulation model) and intervention-based models (Example 2: Lesotho ECE simulation tool).

This document provides an outline of how to approach collecting cost information, what costs to include and exclude, and how detailed cost data should be.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is undertaking cost analyses of key interventions- such as Cost efficiency: teacher professional development, Cost efficiency: malnutrition treatment and Cost effectiveness: parental coaching programs  for the use in its programming decisions and advocacy work. Costing resources include the Cost analysis methodology at the IRC – Guide and the Systematic Cost Analysis (SCAN) tool.

  • The Cost analysis methodology at the IRC guidance note documents the methodology used by IRC in conducting cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness analyses. The note covers costing methodological issues such as identifying programme ingredients, discounting, exchange rates, inflation cash/in-kind transfers, volunteer or beneficiary time and presenting cost data publicly. 
  • The Systematic Cost Analysis (SCAN) tool is a web-based software which allows field staff to conduct rigorous and rapid cost-efficiency analyses of their programs, by re-using existing accounting and monitoring data. Originally developed by the IRC, a group of five NGOs including Accion Contra el Hambre, CARE, Mercy Corps, and Save the Children — came together in 2018 to build SCAN 2.0. This new version is compatible with any financial system and stores data from different NGOs separately and securely.

Contact:  Caitlin Tulloch at [email protected]

This cost measurement guidance note from the Building Evidence in Education (BE2) working group aims at facilitating the adoption of robust cost measurement practices and for the results to improve the effectiveness of global investments in education development among funders and national governments. The closing section of the note presents recommended steps for instituting cost measurement practices in an international donor agency.

Harmonizing cost measurement across the entire global sector will increase its value by allowing for comparisons of cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness of interventions funded by different donors. Similar to international standards for evaluation studies, adopting clear standards for cost studies would allow to build and use the knowledge base and ultimately improve the efficiency and effectiveness of international investments in education.

This guidance can be useful to those who are commissioned to produce research, independent researchers and academics and implementation partners of multilateral donors, as well as national governments.

IIEP supports UNESCO Member States in costing and planning their education development plans and does this via four mechanisms: 1) Education sector analysis: ‘costs and financing’ section; 2) National Education Accounts; 3) Cost simulation model (IIEP offers a specialized course on projection methods and techniques and simulation models); and 4) Link between education planning and budgeting.

IIEP participated in the production of a methodological guide, which enables readers to familiarize themselves with the method of analyzing costs and financing used in the context of the education sector analysis.

The institute also offers a specialized course on projection methods and techniques and simulation models with the objective of providing participants with the foundation needed to develop a simulation model autonomously. The priority target audience is the staff of ministries responsible for education and training who wish to broaden their skills to strengthen the ‘costs and financing’ phase of the process of sectoral planning.