The United Civil Society for Education Dialogue (UNICED), a consortium of civil society organizations, working in the education sector, has rejected the Ministry of Education’s plan to introduce the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative.
A press statement read on behalf of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) by Acting Executive Director Anderson D. Miamen, claimed that PPP could undermine the minimum progress gained over the years in the education sector.
“The MOE seeks to outsource all public primary and Early Childhood Development schools (ECD) in the country, which is even done unilaterally,” Mr. Miamen said.
The plan, he said, would be introduced during the 2016/2017 academic year, targeting at least 70 pilot schools in the first year.
“Therefore we have unanimously rejected it and encourage MOE to abandon the plan. We believe that it is not in the best interest of our school system,” Mr. Miamen pointed out.
CENTAL, he said is of the opinion that “If the MOE implements the plan as it is adamantly doing, it will seriously undermine progress made in the last few years on reforms to develop policies and laws to govern education.”
Under the proposed PPP, the MOE would sign a contract with Bridge International Academies, a private education service provider, currently operating in Kenya and Uganda in East Africa with reported records of poor performance.
“This means that the ministry will be outsourcing public basic and primary schools to private providers who the ministry says will improve learning outcomes, especially numeracy and literacy,” Mr. Miamen explained.
He said even in Kenya where they operate, PPP has been barred from opening new schools until among other things, those providers ensure that at least 50 percent of their teachers are trained and qualified.
When established, Mr. Miamen said, the proposed PPP will discriminatorily seek to improve learning outcomes in selected public schools, especially at the primary and basic levels, leaving majority of the schools not covered by the program.
Additionally, he said there is no clarity on how Liberians will benefit from the private provider under the arrangement.
“Currently, the institution charges US$6 per student every month in Uganda and Kenya and also charges additional fees for feeding and other services,” Mr. Miamen added.
According to him, MOE will eventually aim to contract out all primary and early childhood education schools to private providers who meet the required standards over a five year period.
UNICED comprises of five civil society organizations and platforms, including the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE), National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL), Liberia Education for all Technical Committee (LETCOM), and Liberia Education Monitor (LEM).