The Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) and the Government of Sierra Leone have taken a huge step forward in their partnership focused on improving education for over 100,000 children across more than 265 schools in Sierra Leone with the launch of a formal RFP for providers to participate in the Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge (SLEIC).
The program—which is expected to begin in 2022—has been made possible by the visionary leadership of the Government of Sierra Leone under their pioneering Education Minister, David Sengeh.
The SLEIC will see the Government, donors, schools, and non-state education providers working together to improve literacy and numeracy for students across the participating schools. Following its launch, the program will run for three years, with each of the schools allocated to one of five geographic ‘lots’, each of which will be awarded to a different service provider. The 15 providers shortlisted for the RFP were identified following a public call for expressions of interest and will be able to form partnerships with each other, or with other organizations and investors.
At the core of the SLEIC is a focus on improving the educational outcomes for some of the most disadvantaged children in Sierra Leone, in particular the program will reward providers who secure improvements for girls with a 20 percent premium on the funding paid out. As an outcomes-based program, the providers’ learning support activities will be monitored and assessed for effectiveness, with payments made only for interventions that demonstrably improve the literacy and numeracy of children.
This monitoring will provide an invaluable evidence base for the Government to identify and scale up the most effective interventions across the country. Critically, the program has been designed with a sustainable and scalable maximum cost-per-outcome of USD$36 per child, creating a ‘program to policy pathway’ to ensure that successful learning support activities are continued following the end of the initial three-year period.
In addition, by diversifying the providers between the five geographic lots, the SLEIC will also help to build provider capacity creating a stronger, more outcomes-focused pool of non-state providers to support the Government to improve the education system across Sierra Leone.
The SLEIC is being funded by the Government of Sierra Leone, the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), and Bank of America which have so far committed a total of USD$16.2 million to the program.