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The Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge

Here at the Education Outcomes Fund we are excited to announce the launch of our first program, the Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge (SLEIC). This is designed to increase literacy and numeracy outcomes over three years for 134,000 children. It will support 325 public primary schools across all 16 districts of the country and has been designed with Sierra Leone's Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education and the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation. This US$18M program is co-funded by the Government of Sierra Leone, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, the Hempel Foundation, The Korean International Cooperation Agency and the Bank of America.

The challenge comes after the Government's success in increasing enrollment numbers through the Free Quality School Education Policy. The Government sees value in learning from the non-state sector and in testing different approaches to improving learning.

SLEIC follows the success of the Education Innovation Challenge (EIC), launched in 2019. The EIC chose five non-state providers to go to communities and collaborate with the schools for two years to improve learning in literacy and numeracy.

The SLEIC will build on the lessons learned from this challenge, scaling up to reach more schools and children. The SLEIC also uses results-based financing to tie funding to the level of learning achieved, which is determined through a rigorous randomized control trial. As payment is only received when results are proven, providers can innovate and experiment with their approaches and adapt their interventions according to the needs found at schools and communities. This ensures money is not wasted on activities that don't have a positive impact.

Sustainability and scalability are at the core of the design of the SLEIC; all providers have a set price cap of US$36 per child per year, which will enable the Government to scale interventions in the future. Providers will work with – not replace – the existing management structures of the schools meaning any changes can be replicated. Furthermore, the program includes a rigorous learning agenda, through which the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) will collect data on the most cost-effective interventions to improve learning in Sierra Leone.

The SLEIC also strongly focuses on girls’ education. Providers will receive a 20 per cent premium for improvements in girls’ education outcomes, ensuring efforts are focused on an often-marginalized group.

In the first semester of 2022, EOF and the Government of Sierra Leone jointly selected five Grantees; Save the Children, EducAid, National Youth Awareness Forum, Rising Academy Network and Street Child to participate in the SLEIC. EducAid, Street Child and Rising Academy Network will be supported with upfront capital by Bridges Fund Management.

Each Grantee has been allocated one of five areas that, together, cover the entire country and in which each will have the opportunity to implement their interventions and adapt as necessary. More information on their interventions can be accessed here.

The program officially launched at the beginning of September 2022. More details about the launch event are available here.


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