To jumpstart the PPP program, the USAID partners provided support to the National Investment Commission in helping Liberia draft the PPP policy and build the capacity on PPPs. The UK government as well is providing PPP training for all ministries, Education minis- try sources tell Capitol Insider.
Against this background, the Government of Liberia opened an education panel discussion on Public-Private Partnership with key stakeholders and partners aimed at improving the education sector through improved education outcomes in primary and early childhood education. Taking the charge, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has expressed optimism that such partnership is possible and will accelerate progress in the country’s educational sector.
She said that quality education remains a top priority of her government and is an imperative under the Sustainable Development Goal 4 as well as the Africa Vision 2063. The Liberian President indicated that a public private partnership which is not effectively de- signed and implemented exposes the government to the lack of value for money. She pledged her government’s commitment to continue work with partners to ensure that proper mechanism and structures are put in place to move the sec- tor forward for future generations to take charge and compete with their African counterparts not only in politics but in the economic and financial spheres respectively.
The PPP program is expected to explore opportunities in which private institutions can be contracted to run primary and early childhood education schools on the performance basis and to also generate interest, advice and funding from partners for the proposed Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) for improved quality in primary and basic education. “Improvements,” Madam Sirleaf said, “will be measured through literacy and numeracy outcomes.”
Public-private-partnerships providers will be commissioned to run schools according to performance criteria and standards established and monitored by the Government.
Public-private partnerships differ from privatization, as public schools will remain under Government control. Minister Werner emphasized that government standards and regulations would apply to any future partnership. He said government in particular will ensure primary and basic schools remain free and con- firmed that this would never be compromised. “The Government is committed to free basic education.
Every child has the right to go to school, and that means that basic schools must be free,” the Education Minister emphasized. Mr. Werner then outlined key priorities the Ministry will focus under the new ‘Getting to Best’ agenda announced last year including: Improvement in children’s literacy and numeracy in lower basic grades; qualified teachers with the skills to improve students’ learning outcomes; support and motivate teachers who will improve children’s learning outcomes; school infrastructure meets the needs of children, improving enrolment and retention; ensure schools and teachers have the resources to improve children’s learning outcomes; lay the foundations for children’s learning at early childhood education; improve girls’ learning outcomes; and ensure that the Ministry of Education and schools become ac- countable for children’s learning.
• The government must maintain its role as the guarantor of free education for all children, while ensuring the quality of education improves. We must ensure that we get value for money that our communities understand why we are doing this and how they can engage to improve outcomes for their children, and that government remains in the driving seat.
• We will be working to raise understanding in the country to avoid the fear that we are “selling out our schools”. We know that there will be challenges.
• But we also know that the benefits that can be brought to Liberia in terms of effective teaching models, efficient school building structures, and ultimately, the benefits to children’s reading and writing abilities, must not be missed.