Learning from Liberia’s Educational Partnership
by Marcus S. Wleh-MONROVIA – Mareeg.com-Around the world, some 263 million children remain out of school, and of those who do attend classes, 330 million are receiving substandard education. As a result, an estimated 617 million school-age children are unable to read at grade level.
The problem is a global one, but it is particularly acute in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 88% of young students– some 202 million boys and girls – are not achieving a sufficient level of reading proficiency. And it is also here where solutions are being tested.
African governments and international donors have long paid lip service to improving educational outcomes, especially in basic skills like reading, writing, and math. At a financing conference for the Global Partnership for Education in February, developing countries vowed to increase spending on education by $110 billion, and wealthy donors pledged an additional $2.3 billion to improve school systems in poor countries.
But as important as these commitments are, Africa’s education crisis will not be overcome by donations and pledges alone. A new approach is needed to strengthen struggling schools, train teachers, and ensure that every child can obtain the necessary skills to succeed. One pilot program being tested in my country, Liberia, has shown considerable promise.
Because low-income countries rarely have enough money to implement needed education reforms, pooling public and private resources is an attractive alternative. Since 2016, Liberia’s education ministry has merged select public schools with various independent operators in an effort to increase educational quality in a tight budget environment. Early results are impressive.