New RCT reveals that Liberia significantly improves primary school learning outcomes in three years 

17 December 2019

  • Overall, learning improved by 0.26 SDs in English and 0.35 SDs in maths; equating to more than a year of additional student learning. 
  • Bridge-supported schools increased learning by 0.62 SDs; equating to 2.5 years of additional learning. 

A new independent three year study released today shows that Liberia’s innovative public private partnership (PPP) – the Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP) – has significantly improved learning outcomes for children across the country.

A Randomised Control Trial (RCT) by the Center for Global Development and Innovations Poverty Action (IPA) was commissioned by the Liberian government in 2016 to measure whether the government designed and led PPP improved learning outcomes in public primary schools. 

The eagerly anticipated study results in LEAP schools, revealed:

  • Overall, LEAP learning improved by 0.26 standard deviations (SDs) in English and 0.35 SDs in maths; equating to more than a year of additional student learning. 
  • Bridge-supported schools increased learning by 0.62 SDs; equating to 2.5 years of additional learning. 
  • Students in Bridge-supported schools effectively achieved 5.5 years of schooling in just 3 years.

While the improved outcomes are significant across the programme, the overall LEAP programme averages are diluted because they include all eight non state partners. Three of the partners did not improve learning compared to traditional public primary schools; whereas five of the eight providers in the programme significantly improved learning outcomes. 

The Ministry of Education intended to use the study to evidence which providers were successful at increasing learning outcomes in order to inform policy decisions. However, the study does not enable comparison between providers; but only between individual operator treatment and control schools.

The first randomised control trial paper was released in 2017, at the end of the first year of the programme. It showed that learning gains had improved overall by 60% in the first year. At Bridge supported schools, learning gains had doubled. 

The second paper, published at the end of three years, evidences the impact of the overall programme and shows that some providers have succeeded in almost doubling the amount of learning being achieved by children in LEAP schools.

Alongside improved outcomes, the RCT has shown that the programme is well on the path to financial sustainability. Programme costs have significantly decreased over time, as the programme design anticipated. At the end of the three year study, providers were delivering the LEAP programme at $119 per student compared to the $304 average cost in year one. LEAP was designed to ultimately be deliverable within the government’s budget of $100 a child; in year four, the programme is projected to deliver services within that budget.

Commenting on the report, Griffin Asigo, Country Director in Liberia said: “Liberia has been at the forefront of the global education conversation and I am delighted that after three years, children are learning far more in the public school system than they would have been otherwise. Now that the Ministry has expanded the programme, nearly 50,000 children stand to benefit. This could change the growth and prosperity of the country as a whole in years to come. I congratulate the government on their vision and their success.”

Dr. Steven Cantrell, Vice President of Measurement and Evaluation at Bridge said: “The Liberian Government has commissioned the RCT to provide the Ministry of Education with evidence to fairly judge the success of LEAP, especially its efforts to improve student learning. Sadly, this report speaks primarily to an academic audience and is likely to be misunderstood by those without specialised training. The authors’ apparently have little desire to help the Ministry expand and improve this programme, despite their own evidence that LEAP has improved learning outcomes for thousands of children.”

In 2016, 62% of primary school aged children were not enrolled in Liberia. Thirty-five per cent of women and 21% of men could not read a single sentence. LEAP was designed with a singular goal, to improve learning outcomes for Liberian children. The results will be seen as an indicative test of whether public private partnerships can support governments to transform their public education systems in some of the worlds most impoverished countries. The outcomes will serve as inspiration to national and global policy makers alike.

Now in year four, The Ministry of Education has expanded  the LEAP program to 225 schools. Bridge LEAP has been asked by the government to support 170 of those schools. 

[ENDS]


For more information please contact:
Ben Rudd
ben.rudd@bridgeinternationalacademies.com

+44 2038 138 236

Notes to Editors

Interviews are available with:

  • Dr Steven Cantrell, Vice President of Measurement and Evaluation, Bridge
  • Griffin Asigo, Country Director Liberia, Bridge.

Bridge is one of eight non state partners who are helping the Liberian Government to explore how organisations can help the government to reform the Liberian education system and meet the urgent need for quality schools and nurseries. The policies governing the LEAP programme are designed by the Liberian Ministry of Education, and the eight independent operators are implementing the Liberian curriculum.

LEAP has continued under two different government administrations having being implemented as Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) under President Sirleaf and continued as Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP) under the leadership of President Weah.

The RCT study included 93 public primary schools supported by eight different non state actors. Bridge was the largest operator with 23 schools in the study.

TOT vs ITT: 

The Data and standard deviations that Bridge reports upon in the press release is TOT data.

The report analyzes learning outcomes of children by answering two distinct research questions.Intention-To-Treat (ITT) used in the report estimates the treatment effect of a child being assigned to a LEAP school in 2015-16. Treatment-On-Treated (TOT) estimates the treatment effect of a child having being taught at the school. ITT includes all children originally included in the study irrespective of whether they whether they continued to attend a LEAP school, dropped out of school, migrated with their families or passed away during the three-year study period. The latter group (TOT) only includes those children that were still attending a LEAP school at the end of the study. 

The Center for Global Development and Innovations for Poverty Action were commissioned to conduct a randomised control trial (RCT) to examine whether the Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) program was effective at delivering learning gains at the end of the first year of the pilot. Find the Center for Global Development study here.

LEAP is now in year four and the Ministry has expanded the programme to 225 schools across 13 of the 15 counties. Bridge will be supporting 170 schools and over 50,000 students.

Liberia education and literacy statistics from UNICEF data 2017.  

More information about PSL/LEAP is available on the Liberia Ministry of Education website.

About Bridge

Bridge believes every child has the right to high quality education and works in partnership with governments, communities, parents and teachers to ensure access to quality education. Bridge has served over 750,000 children to date across 1,500 schools.  

Bridge leverages in-depth teacher training and support, advanced lesson plans and wireless technology to provide pupils with a meaningful and life-changing education.

Globally, there is an education crisis. 800 million children are either not in school at all, or in school and not learning. Bridge is committed to helping tackle this through a data driven, evidence based approach that delivers strong schools and a great education for all.

bridgeinternationalacademies.com

 

 

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