The government of Liberia introduced Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) [now called LEAP], a public-private partnership that outsourced management of public schools to a variety of for-profit and non-profit school operators. The theory of change catalyzing this partnership hypothesized that this model would mobilize additional financing from these operators, who would introduce innovations in service delivery (e.g.: improvements in teacher training and accountability; technology in the classroom) and strengthen accountability feedback loops to increase educational outcomes.
While it is not clear if the current government of Liberia will continue LEAP, some outside stakeholders have suggested that the program would benefit from a pay-for-results (PfR) framework. USAID believes that PfR activities in the education sector can be cost-effective and deliver impact at scale. The USAID/Liberia therefore contracted the Private Sector Engagement Support Program (PSE Support) to assess the viability and efficacy of a PfR framework proposed by a 2019 study by the non-profit advisory firm Instiglio.
To provide high quality short-term technical assistance (STTA), WBD undertook an adaptive project that accommodated the interests and understanding of Mission staff. Although the initial contract stipulated an assessment of the Instiglio report, WBD staff went above expectations with two key components:
- Assessing Instiglio’s Proposed Development Impact Bonds (DIBs): PSE Support worked transparently and interactively with the Mission to create a technical assessment of proposed DIBs. By contracting technical assistants and utilizing PSE Support’s expertise in PSE strategies, WBD created a high quality review of Instiglio’s study and potential applications for DIB financing. These findings were then presented in an interactive meeting with Mission staff.
- Review of PfR Financing: Acknowledging that PfR is a new concept for many Mission staff, PSE Support offered a comprehensive overview of PfR financing and its various traits. To account for the Mission’s concerns with this form of financing, presentations and meetings presented a cost-benefit analysis of the use of PfR frameworks. Various avenues of PfR were assessed and showcased with their corresponding potential changes in educational outcome for Liberia. An additional case study review was undertaken to illustrate the applications of PfR financing elsewhere in the world and its potential impact for Liberia.