Liberia’s big school experiment
“Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world and its education system lags behind most countries, in both access and quality.
Fewer than 40% of children complete primary education. And among adult women who finished elementary school just one in four could read a sentence.
If you were education minister in such a country, you might be tempted to try a big, bold, experiment – and that is exactly what the government has done, with Liberia’s high profile and sometimes controversial Partnership Schools for Liberia programme.
Liberian ministers, including Education Minister Werner, last year decided to transfer the management of 93 government schools to eight private operators – mostly international school groups, but also some home grown operators.
These 93 schools remained state schools – with government teachers, open enrolment, and no fees.
For those who think this sounds like the academies programme which has been rolled out in England – well, you’re right. Except that it took England seven years to grow its academies programme to the size Liberia achieved overnight.
And, perhaps unlike in England, Liberian ministers decided to do something else just as bold – they would support a rigorous, independent, evaluation of their own policy.
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Ernst.