Liberia’s ‘Hail Mary Pass’ to Save Its Failing School System

Liberia’s ‘Hail Mary Pass’ to Save Its Failing School System
Students protest after nearly 25,000 applicants failed Liberia's university entrance exam, Monrovia, Aug. 28, 2013 (AP photo by Mark Darrough).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about education policy in various countries around the world.

Liberia’s plan to task independent operators with running some of its public schools has received extensive media attention over the past year. Not long after the plan was first unveiled, one outlet said it was an attempt to outsource the entire education sector, and a U.N. rapporteur accused Liberia of violating students’ right to education. In an email interview, Justin Sandefur, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development who is helping to coordinate the randomized evaluation of the Partnership Schools program, describes the state of Liberia’s schools and what needs to happen for the scheme to be considered a success.

WPR: What is the current state of public education in Liberia, and what prompted the government to begin converting failing schools into charter schools?

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