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Liberia plans on rolling out a controversial project that will outsource parts of its education sector to a US-based firm over the next five years. In a reported $65 million deal, Bridge International Academies is set to partner with the government to launch a pilot programme dubbed “Partnership Schools for Liberia”. Private donors will contribute an additional $135 million to the initiative. The aim is get the country’s schools back on track, but not everyone is convinced by the approach.
The news, being hailed by some as an “Africa first”, has set off a debate over how the country should address its struggling education sector. According to UNESCO, half a million children are still out of school in Liberia and about 21 percent of those in school will not complete primary education.
Educators and civil society members have not only questioned the alternative teaching methods that Bridge International Academies will offer, but have highlighted the dangers of opening the doors to privatisation in education.
The UN Special Rapporteur Kishore Singh recently criticised the Liberian government for passing off its education obligations to a private company instead of using public funds to improve the current system. But officials assert their plan is necessary in strengthening Liberia’s education sector. So is outsourcing the answer? Liberia’s deputy minister of education joins us to address some of these concerns at 19:30 GMT.
Joining this conversation:
Wade Williams @wadeclwilliams
Journalist and concerned parent
Aagon F. Tingba Jr.
Deputy Minister of Education, Liberia
Kanio Bai Gbala @TrustAfrica
Program Officer, Trust Africa
Josh Nathan @BridgeIntlAcads
Academic Director, Liberia
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