The Ministry of Education has invited Rising Academies to significantly expand its school network in Liberia. From September 2017, Rising Academies will be operating 29 government schools across 7 counties.
The move comes as part of an expansion of the Partnership Schools for Liberia program. Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) is an innovative pilot program designed to raise the quality of education across the country.
Under the program, government has partnered with eight school operators to test whether handing over responsibility for the day-to-day management of government schools can lead to better literacy and improved learning outcomes for students.
PSL schools remain free to use, must employ official government teachers, and remain ultimately accountable to the Ministry of Education. But operators bring a range of specialist skills and methods in school management, curriculum and teacher training that the Ministry hopes will lead to better results. After three years, a rigorous external evaluation will determine whether PSL schools ultimately perform better than traditional public schools.
The Ministry’s decision to award Rising more schools in the second year of the PSL program followed an in-depth review and screening process, including unannounced spot checks of PSL schools. Rising Academies was one of three providers to be awarded the top “A” rating for its strong performance in Year 1.
Students and parents at the 5 schools Rising Academies have been operating so far confirm that they have seen very positive changes at their schools since Rising took over.
“I am stronger in math now than before,” said Anita, the top scorer at Malema Public School in Klay District, Bomi County in our network-wide, daily numeracy program.
Annie Seeyala, a parent at Cecelia A. Dunbar Public School in Todee District, agrees. “We are seeing lot of improvement in our children; they can now read, write and do their own homework,” she said.
Benjamin Clarke, Principal of Sumo Town Public School in Bomi County, Suehn Mecca District, says the partnership with Rising has had a dramatic impact on his school. “Last year, we had two teachers and no training or monitoring. This year, Sumo Town Public School has full staffing, with trained teachers and we look forward to Rising Academies visiting our school to show them how we’re performing.”
Although results from the first year of the external evaluation will not be available until later this year, data from internal literacy tests carried out by the Rising team point to the strong progress students have made throughout this academic year.
“When we look at the scores our students are getting today, they are higher than the scores students two grades above them were getting back in September”, says Rising Academies Managing Director Christina PioCosta-Lahue. “The average first grader today is doing better on these tests than the average third grader was when we first took over.”
Key to Rising’s impact this year, she says, has been the hard work and hunger to learn of its teachers. “We provide our teachers with a lot of support, from pre-service training to detailed lesson plans to in-school coaching. But in the end what makes their difference is their passion and commitment to improve the quality of education in Liberia.”
Notes for editors:
- Rising Academies is an inspiring network of high quality schools in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- Rising Academies is one of the eight school operators chosen to participate in the Partnership Schools for Liberia program.
- In Year 1 of the program (2016-17), Rising Academies operated 5 schools in Bomi and Montserrado Counties.
- In Year 2 of the program (2017-18), Rising Academies will operate 29 schools across 7 counties: Bomi, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, River Cess, Sinoe, River Gee and Maryland.
- Our report, Literacy and numeracy in Rising Academy Partnership Schools: Interim Progress Report, is available to download. Visit www.risingacademies.com/blog/pslyear2.