Funding struggle: Can Liberia’s controversial privately-run schools pilot continue?
Three weeks before Liberia’s general election, the future of a controversial pilot outsourcing more than 200 public schools to private operators appears uncertain as the country’s president steps up fundraising efforts to secure the $4.6 million needed to keep the program running.
Some funders are also said to be questioning the program after an independent evaluation released earlier this month showed mixed results for the public-private partnership’s first year. While researchers of the randomized control trial reported impressive learning gains among students, they also raised concerns about the program’s cost-effectiveness and its potential to negatively impact non-participating schools in the country.
Liberia’s outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf delivered her final address to world leaders during the United Nations General Assembly last week, during which she described the country as “a post-conflict success story.” While referencing ongoing work to “transform” the country’s education system, she made no mention of her government’s most talked about and controversial project: the Partnership Schools for Liberia, or PSL.
Photo courtesy of Global Partnership for Education (GPE).