Upgrading education quality in Liberia
Liberia is the sixth-poorest country in the world, working to recover from two civil wars and the Ebola crisis. With 43% of Liberian people illiterate and 53% aged under 20, better education is essential for breaking the cycle of poverty. Big Win Philanthropy has been supporting the Government of Liberia to improve education and training through four programs.
From 2016 to 2018, Big Win Philanthropy supported the Liberian Ministry of Education to clean up the national teacher payroll. The program included:
- Checking every teacher’s qualifications and testing every teacher’s abilities.
- Removing from the payroll people who did not exist or who were not teachers.
- Reclassifying those not up to standard onto lower pay grades, until they improve through retraining.
About 19,500 payroll names were vetted, and over 2,000 were found not to exist or not to be teachers. The removal of these will generate $3.1m of annual savings, allowing about 1,800 new teachers to be employed. Further improvements will come from retraining under-performing teachers and replacing the worst-performing teachers.
Education Delivery Unit
The 2017 Liberian elections saw the first peaceful transition of power for 70 years, but the absence of a civil service for the education sector means that achieving continuity through the transition is hard. To help maintain the momentum for improvements in Liberian education and to give the new education minister a strong start, Big Win is supporting a delivery unit of eight staff in the Ministry of Education. The new minister has announced a comprehensive review of the education reforms launched by the previous administration, with the aim of building on successful programs and identifying new interventions.
The President’s Young Professionals Program
Big Win Philanthropy has been supporting the President’s Young Professionals Program in Liberia. This trains and mentors college graduates who are given work placements in Liberian government agencies. A 2016 evaluation by Princeton University found that 90% of the alumni remain in government or studying on government scholarships with some becoming department directors or assistant ministers. The Program offers a model to other countries wanting to recruit the best and brightest young people into public service.
Positioning Liberia to access outcomes-based funding
Big Win is supporting the Liberian Ministry of Education to work with the organization Social Finance to develop ways of measuring performance in terms of outcomes rather than levels of activity. As well as enabling the Ministry to be more results-focused, this will also help it to access internationally available outcomes-based sources of funding.