September 1, 2022 Freetown, Sierra Leone – The Ministry of Basic, Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), in partnership with the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI), and the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF), a hosted trust fund at UNICEF, have officially launched the largest ever national outcomes fund for education in the world. This program will help a target 134,000 children in 325 public primary schools in Sierra Leone over the next three years. The Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge (SLEIC) is a scale up from the Education Innovation Challenge (EIC). In 2018, President Bio had a vision to increase access to quality and inclusive education with the launch of the Free Quality School Education Program (FQSE), and in an effort to create sustainable and impactful outcomes of FQSE, the Human Capital Development Incubator embedded at DSTI, designed the EIC to test, seed and scale up interventions that improve literacy and numeracy learning outcomes of students at the primary level. 

On June 24, 2019, the EIC was officially launched, inviting organizations and key stakeholders in the education sector to submit innovative ideas for working with students, teachers, and head teachers in government and government supported primary schools across 15 out of 16 districts in Sierra Leone. 

The EIC Service Providers have collaborated with government and schools to design, test, and implement creative and novel teaching approaches, as well as introducing teaching and learning resources, to improve numeracy and literacy levels in chosen schools. Data from the  baseline and midterm evaluations, as well as qualitative data from the  termly Monitoring and Evaluation  assessments, reveal that there has been progress and growth in learning as well as behavioral changes among students, teachers, headteachers, parents, and community elders. 

The EIC, which was seeded with $1.5M USD is now scaling up with the $18M USD SLEIC program, co-financed by the government of Sierra Leone and international donors. The program will fund five organizations to improve children’s literacy and numeracy outcomes in government-assisted primary schools, with a particular focus on improving girls education outcomes.

This is a testament to the use of data for informed decision making and sustainable interventions as echoed by Minister Sengeh, who said that: “the EIC has empowered students with access to opportunities that invariably improve learning outcomes through targeted and transformative  basic education strategies. Now that we have scaled to country level, we hope the new lessons will be taken globally.

The program has sustainability at its core. The interventions are designed to be both affordable and scalable so that the government can incorporate them into future education policy and scale up the most impactful approaches to a national and globam levels after the program finishes in 2025.

Amel Karboul, CEO of EOF said:

We face an unprecedented global learning crisis that requires a different approach to funding education programs and measuring their impact. Access to quality education improves lives and livelihoods. Education equals opportunity. We are working with the Sierra Leonean government to develop programs that are evidence-driven, enable innovation, and most importantly, measurably improve the quality of education for children and young people in the country.”

Joined by Emma Spicer of the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), at the launch,  Minister Sengeh said,

“The Government of Sierra Leone is excited about partnering with EOF to launch the Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge. The program will directly support children across the country and generate important evidence on which innovative education interventions can help drive foundational learning outcomes for all children. It is a perfect example of how we leverage innovation to transform our education service delivery and financing to deliver on the government’s promise of free quality school education for all.”

How will the SLEIC work?

  • Using an outcomes-based approach, organizations involved will be paid once their interventions have shown improvements in children’s literacy and numeracy. They are a mix of local and global providers, including National Youth Awareness Forum, Rising Academies, Street Child, EducAID and Save the Children. The program will be rigorously evaluated to understand their impact on learning, enabling evaluators to identify the approaches that are most effective.
  • The approach utilizes social impact bonds whose model has been successfully implemented in other sectors on a smaller scale. EOF has taken the steps in its programmatic approach to help scale up the output of impact bonds for its program

Who is funding the programme:

  • The Government of Sierra Leone – $1.5M USD
  • The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom (FCDO) – $14M USD
  • Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) – $1M US
  • Bank of America – $0.5M USD
  • Waterloo Foundation – $0.210 USD
  • Hempel Foundation – $1.179M USD 

About the Education Outcomes Fund: There are few greater challenges faced by the global community than the twin crises of learning poverty and youth unemployment. In response, the Education Commission (chaired by Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister and UN Special Envoy for Global Education) and the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (chaired by Sir Ronald Cohen) came together with our founding CEO (Her Excellency Dr.) Amel Karboul to create EOF end of 2017. EOF aims to improve the education and employment outcomes of 10 million children and youth, by supporting governments to utilize a range of innovative finance instruments at scale. EOF is the first outcomes fund hosted by the United Nations within UNICEF, as a scalable platform to partner with governments, donors, implementing partners, and investors around the world. EOF pays primarily on the basis of the results achieved, ensuring that taxpayer-funded domestic resources, aid, and philanthropic funds are only used to pay for what works. This is a game-changing way to finance results in education, focusing attention and realigning systems on the most challenging but most important measure of a program’s performance: whether it is improving lives.

About the programs partner organizations

National Youths Awareness Forum Sierra Leone (NYAFSL) is a local NGO engaged in educational, socio-economic, and sustainable development activities in Sierra Leone. They aim to integrate the community and Government into their educational program and ensure the holistic development of all people involved. They will provide training for teachers and headteachers, and supplementary materials and create a culture of joy and inclusion throughout the schools.

Rising Academies

Founded in Sierra Leone in 2014, Rising Academy Network is a growing network of inspiring schools in West Africa. Their mission is to unleash the full potential of every student, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and character to succeed in further study, work, and day-to-day life.

Street Child

Street Child works across 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Europe. They work with an expanding network of 95+ local organizations to harness the power and purpose of local-level organizations. Street Child aims to improve learning opportunities for students through a Transformation Model. This model utilizes multiple core components including individualized student support; student-centered instruction; strong school leadership; and shared school ownership, reinforced through a focus on data driven structures and strategies.

EducAid

EducAid has been working to strengthen education in Sierra Leone for more than 25 years, running free, high quality schools and sustainable school improvement projects. EducAid’s intervention focuses on teacher and school leader training with ongoing in-school and community support to implementation to build a common understanding of what excellence in respect-focused effective education looks like and how we can hold each other accountable and support each other to achieve this vision.

Save the Children

Save the Children have been in Sierra Leone since 1999, at first working in Kailahun to support children who were displaced during the civil war. They have since expanded their operations to four more districts.

Save the Children will build teacher capacity in literacy and numeracy teaching techniques, increase children’s access to reading and math materials, and provide support to communities and caregivers for supplementary learning that will enable children to practice math and reading at home. They will also train teachers in child protection and positive discipline strategies to create a safer environment for children in school. Their Community Learning Facilitators will support school communities to conduct sessions with parents and caregivers on children’s right to education, the value of education (particularly for girls), and the protection needs of girls and boys.

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