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The Education Outcomes Fund (EOF), a hosted trust fund at UNICEF, has launched the largest ever outcomes fund for education focused giving, helping 134,000 children in 325 public primary schools in Sierra Leone. The EOF funding model revolutionises giving and government spending in the education sector.

The Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge (SLEIC) is an $18M USD programme, co-financed by the government of Sierra Leone and international donors that will fund five, child and education focused organisations to improve children’s literacy and numeracy outcomes in state primary schools, with a particular focus on improving girls education outcomes.

Sierra Leonean Education Minister David Moinina Sengeh will speak about SLEIC at a ceremony in Freetown on September 1st, announcing the start of the programme.

Mr Sengeh said,
“The Government of Sierra Leone is excited about partnering with EOF
to launch the Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge. The
programme will directly support children across the country and
generate important evidence on which innovative education
interventions can help drive foundational learning outcomes for all
children. It is a perfect example of how we leverage innovation to
transform our education service delivery and financing to deliver on the
governments promise of free quality school education for all.”

About the programme
● Using an outcomes-based approach, organisations involved will be paid once
their interventions have shown improvements in children’s literacy and numeracy.
● They are a mix of local and global providers, including National Youth Awareness
Forum, Rising Academies, Street Child, EducAID and Save the Children.
● The programme will be rigorously evaluated to understand their impact on
learning, enabling evaluators to identify the approaches that are most effective.
● The approach utilises social impact bonds whose model has been
successfully implemented in other sectors on a smaller scale. EOF has
taken the steps in its programmatic approach to help scale up the output of
impact bonds for its programmes.
● The programme has sustainability at its core. The interventions are designed to
be both affordable and scalable so that the government can incorporate them
into future education policy and scale up the most impactful approaches to a
national level after the programme finishes in 2025.

Amel Karboul, CEO of EOF said:

“We face an unprecedented global learning crisis that requires a different approach to funding education programmes and measuring their impact. Access to quality education improves lives and livelihoods. Education equals opportunity. We are working with the Sierra Leonean government to develop programmes that are evidence-driven, enable innovation, and most importantly, measurably improve the quality of education for children and young people in the country.”

In 2018, the Sierra Leonean government made education more accessible through their Free Quality School Education (FQSE) policy that eliminated school fees in public schools which helped improve attendance and increased school access for 700,000 students. They now aim to improve the quality of education through SLEIC, and are providing $1.5 million USD in funding for the programme.

Though a child in Sierra Leone can expect to complete 8.9 years of school, they only acquire 4.5 years of actual learning given the current education challenges in the country. As recent as 2014, 87% of Primary 2 students (ages 7-8) were
considered illiterate.

Governments around the world have shown interest in this approach, with EOF developing a broad pipeline of opportunities beyond Sierra Leone to support learning and employment outcomes for 10 million children and young people around the world.