Government Budget Shows Utter Neglect of Education

Education continues to be a low priority for the government, and badly funded in comparison with other developed and lesser developed countries.

Government expenses on education planed for 2018 are about 38.4 billion lekë (~€286 million), or about 2.49% of the GDP. Based on data of the World Bank, this makes Albania one of the countries with the lowest government expenses on education, placing it on place 135 of 193 countries. EU countries spend on average 4.9% of their GDP on education.

Not only is the Rama government investing comparatively little in education, it has even dropped its education expenses since 2013 when it came to power. In 2013 3.54% of the GDP was spent on education, and Albania charted at place 116. Compared to Albania’s GDP, education expenses are expect to continue to decrease, as the education budget stays fixed against a rising GDP.

The budget envisions expenses of 68,500 lekë for each elementary school student, and 74,200 lekë for high school students. By comparison, OECD countries invest on average between $2,500 and $10,000 per student per year.

These numbers are not only weak in comparison with other countries. They are also weak in comparison with the plans of the government itself. The government’s pre-university education strategy, approved in 2016, envisioned education expenses of 5% of the GDP in 2018.

Of the 38.4 billion lekë planned for 2018, 85% will go to salaries, social security, and pensions, whereas only 8% will be spent on investments in the ailing education system. 0.1% – €376,000 – will be spent on training pre-university teacher on elementary and high schools, while 0,3% – €827,000 – will go to laboratories and e-learning, two fields that were completely neglected in 2016 and 2017.

All of these indicators show that the government has not only fully deprioritized education, but that also in absolute terms the investments in education are completely insufficient.