The Partnership Schools for Liberia programme (PSL), an initiative that the Ark Education Partnerships Group has been supporting, has recently received its first set of encouraging results. The independent evaluation found that students in PSL schools learned 60% more than their peers at other public schools. The evaluation also found that there were significant improvements in school management and a higher quality of teaching in PSL schools.
Over the past two years, the Ark Education Partnerships Group has been advising the Liberian Ministry of Education on the design and implementation of PSL, and helping to manage its first year of operation. The year-long independent evaluation, conducted by a research team led by the Centre for Global Developments and Innovations for Poverty Action, was a key element of the programme.
PSL has been running for one year and there is work to do to make sure the programme is affordable and financially sustainable, that operators are held accountable for their performance, and that the improvements in learning can be sustained and scaled across the public sector. But encouragingly, even some of the lower spending partnership school providers have delivered significant improvements in education quality and learning.
Susannah Hares, Executive Director at Ark EPG said “We welcome the government's strong commitment to rigorous external evaluation and the thorough work which the evaluation team has undertaken. This evaluation is particularly important because PSL is the first national, public-private-partnership education initiative in Sub Saharan Africa using a contract-management model similar to the Academies programme in the UK. Furthermore, it makes a valuable contribution to the global evidence base on public-private partnerships.”
“We particularly welcome the evaluation conclusions, which show learning gains of an additional half a year of schooling, significantly more hours of teaching time and student attendance, and an increase in parental satisfaction. We believe that the research shows that there is a good case for continuing the programme, while testing refinements to the contract-management model and simultaneously building up the government’s capacity to hold operators accountable and bringing down costs.”
Find out more:
Centre for Global Development: Partnership Schools For Liberia evaluation
The Economist: A report card for Liberia’s charter schools