The Childhood Cost Calculator (C3) from the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at Brookings is an online, publicly available, newer, more advanced, and user-friendly version of the previous Standardized ECD Costing Tool (SECT). C3 aims at facilitating costing analysis and providing methodological consistency to costing a range of ECD interventions across a diversity of contexts. The tool leverages years of research at the Center for Universal Education that focused on how the collection, analysis, and use of various types of data can contribute to the improvement of learning outcomes in education and early childhood development (ECD); and the lessons from the piloting of the SECT in 5 countries (Bangladesh, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, and Mozambique), alongside the World Bank’s Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund. As such, in addition to many improvements when updates in addition to ECD, the C3 is now expanded to include primary and secondary education.

Costing approach: Micro-costing/Ingredients-based costing

Platform and Format : Web-based

Costing approach:

What questions does it answer?

Built-in utilizing RTI International’s Tangerine software, C3 allows the user to enter cost-related data online in a straightforward survey form. C3 users can perform a range of cost calculations, estimates, and simulations.  As such, the tool can be used by users such as policymakers, funders, researchers or anyone seeking to answer the following questions:

What resources are needed to deliver an intervention?

Is a project feasible within a given budget?

What are the cost implications of a programmatic change, such as in dosage?

What would be the cost of scaling up a program or intervention?

How do the costs of intervention A compare to those of intervention B?

What are the cost drivers of an intervention?

What is the cost per beneficiary (unit cost) of an intervention or program?

How are costs distributed across cost categories for an intervention or program?

How are the costs distributed across resource categories for an intervention or program?

How are the costs distributed between one-time costs and recurring costs?


C3 can also contribute, but not directly answer, further questions such as a comparison of the costs of an intervention to the monetary value of all the benefits created by this intervention, a cost-benefit analysis. The cost data that are produced by the tool can also be used in a cost-effectiveness analysis in conjunction with impact data to examine the cost of the intervention per outcome delivered. These data can also be used to examine how the cost per outcome compares to other interventions that produce the same outcome.

Functionalities such as currency conversions and provision of results as automatic data visualizations of aggregated data and disaggregated data in a downloadable CSV format are included in the tool.

Going forward, as more programs undertake costing exercises with C3, an interactive, searchable database of aggregated childhood cost data will be populated. As such, the Cost Data Explorer will increase global cost data transparency, allowing stakeholders to compare, consider, and understand investments across intervention types and geography.