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September 8th, 2017

Partnership Schools for Liberia: Ministry welcomes mid-line findings of independent evaluation

The Liberian Ministry of Education welcomed the results of an independent evaluation highlighting a significant improvement in education outcomes in schools within the Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) program.

The evaluation, which was conducted by a research team led by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), found that students in PSL schools learned 60% more than their peers at other public schools in just the first year of the program. It also found significant improvements in school management and a higher quality of teaching at PSL schools.

The findings led the independent evaluators to conclude that: “There is solid evidence of positive effects for Liberian children during the first year of PSL. Students at PSL schools learned more, received more instruction, and were happier at school than students at traditional public schools. Teachers in PSL schools were more likely to be at school, on-task, and engaged in instruction.”

Commenting on the evaluators’ findings, Minister of Education George K. Werner said: “We are pleased to see strong, independent evidence that the PSL program is achieving the objectives we set out: improving education quality and increasing learning gains. Ultimately my job is about providing better opportunities for all Liberian children and giving them the tools they need to succeed. This evidence makes it clear that PSL is helping to achieve that goal.”

The learning gains identified by this research combined with the improvement in test scores across all public schools for the 2016-17 academic year illustrate that the Ministry’s ambitious reform plan is already making a significant difference.

The Ministry welcomed the constructive feedback from the independent evaluation team regarding areas where the PSL program could be improved. The report findings provide evidence that new program elements already being introduced to PSL in Year 2 are well-founded. These include:

  • Modestly expanding PSL in order to test the program in more remote and disadvantaged communities;
  • Implementing new financial reporting requirements in order to better track providers’ progress towards financial sustainability;
  • Updating provider contracts to ensure that more teachers stay in their assigned schools, children previously enrolled in schools are given priority for registration, and all providers have the same contract terms; and
  • Building an Education Delivery Unit to ensure effective management of PSL and the integration of PSL learnings into the broader education system, amongst the Ministry’s other reforms.

Regarding the financial sustainability of the PSL program in Year 2 and beyond, Minister Werner said: “When we set out to launch the PSL program, we wanted to find education models that could work within the reality of our constrained budget. However, we also welcomed some providers’ efforts to raise additional funding from international donors in order to supplement our budget and provide much-needed resources. We are grateful for these donors’ generous support.”

The report showed that per pupil spending for Year 1 ranged from $40 – $321 across providers, illustrating that financial sustainability is within reach as economies of scale are achieved.

About Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL)

Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) is a public private partnership aimed at testing new models for improving Liberia’s public schools. Through PSL, the Ministry of Education has partnered with eight educational providers: some local, some international; some for-profit, some non-profit. Each provider has a different model but all have proven experience delivering quality education and improving learning outcomes. These providers have assumed responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the schools within the program, with oversight from the Ministry of Education.

During the first year, which concluded in July 2017, 8 providers operated 93 schools in 13 counties across Liberia, providing free, quality education to more than 27,000 students. During the second year, beginning in September 2017, there will be a modest increase in the number of schools, prioritizing increasing presence in disadvantaged regions such as the south-east. There will be approximately 200 schools included in Year 2, representing 7% of the total number of public schools.

Find out more about Partnership Schools for Liberia.