The Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) has on Thursday 1st September launched the Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge (SLEIC) which is the largest ever outcomes fund for education focused giving, helping 134,000 children in 325 public primary schools in Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge (SLEIC) is an $18M USD program, co-financed by the government of Sierra Leone and international donors that will fund five, child and education focused organizations to improve children’s literacy and numeracy outcomes in state primary schools, with a particular focus on improving girls education outcomes.
Sierra Leonean Education Minister Dr. David Moinina Sengeh joined Madam Emma Spicer of the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in launching SLEIC at a ceremony in Freetown announcing the start of the program.
"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," Dr. Sengeh said.
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 programs.
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 level after the program finishes in 2025.
“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,” according to Amel Karboul, CEO of EOF.
In 2018, the Sierra Leonean government made education more accessible through their Free Quality School Education (FQSE) policy that eliminated school fees in public schools which helped improve attendance and increased school access for 700,000 students.
They now aim to improve the quality of education through SLEIC, and are providing $1.5 million USD in funding for the program.
Though a child in Sierra Leone can expect to complete 8.9 years of school, they only acquire 4.5 years of actual learning given the current education challenges in the country. As recent as 2014, 87% of Primary 2 students (ages 7-8) were considered illiterate.
Governments around the world have shown interest in this approach, with EOF developing a broad pipeline of opportunities beyond Sierra Leone to support learning and employment outcomes for 10 million children and young people around the world.
By Augustine Sankoh