Education

Ghana launches $30M education outcomes fund to get kids into school

The Ghana Education Outcomes Project (GEOP) has recently commenced, marking the launch of the world's largest education outcomes fund.

Ghana launches $30M education outcomes fund to get kids into school

The Ghana Education Outcomes Project (GEOP) has recently commenced, marking the launch of the world’s largest education outcomes fund. With a total investment of $30 million, the initiative aims to bring 70,000 out-of-school children back into classrooms and enhance learning outcomes for 98,000 children in 600 primary schools across Ghana. Although the primary focus is on districts in northern Ghana, the project also intends to address pockets of out-of-school children in the cities of Accra and Kumasi.

The GEOP is a groundbreaking program that utilizes a results-based financing mechanism, whereby implementers are only compensated if they achieve specific, independently verified outcomes. While a few similar programs have been tested in the education sector, this initiative stands out as the largest thus far. The Government of Ghana has pledged $4.5 million, with the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office contributing the remaining $25.5 million to fund the project.

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The development of the program faced several challenges, including delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, fundraising obstacles, and a complex design and structuring process. However, after five years of planning, GEOP was officially launched in Accra, the capital of Ghana, last month. Senior Presidential Adviser Yaw Osafo-Maafo expressed pride in hosting the world’s largest outcomes-based education project, highlighting it as a significant milestone.

Ghana launches $30M education outcomes fund to get kids into school
The government recognized the need for the project after realizing the increasing number of out-of-school children and poor learning outcomes in the country. The 2021 census in Ghana revealed that approximately 1.2 million school-age children did not attend school, with 940,000 of them having never stepped foot in a classroom. Furthermore, statistics from the World Bank indicated that even children attending school were not acquiring adequate knowledge and skills.

The GEOP brings together government officials, international donors, social investors, and service providers with the common goal of reintegrating children into school and collectively supporting schools and teachers to improve learning. During the launch event, Minister of Education Yaw Osei Adutwum referred to it as a “watershed moment” for the country and emphasized the advantages of the payment-by-results model employed by GEOP. He stated that the implementers would only be compensated if they achieved the desired outcomes, highlighting the accountability and effectiveness of the approach.

Three main service providers, namely Street Child UK, Plan International, and Rising Academies in partnership with Ghanaian NGO School for Life, have been contracted by the Government of Ghana to implement the program. To ensure their financial stability until they receive payment, most implementers are supported by social investors. In the case of GEOP, the investors include Bridges Fund Management and UBS Optimus Foundation through the SDG Outcomes Fund, as well as the Jacobs Foundation. The UBS Optimus Foundation has played a similar role in funding projects in India and Sierra Leone.

Once the implementers achieve the predetermined results targets, as verified by independent evaluator KPMG, the investors will recoup their initial investment and potentially receive a bonus of up to 10%. The payment will come from the Ghanaian government and the FCDO. Megan Lees-McCowan, the head of Africa programs at Street Child UK, commended the results-based model for providing implementers with clarity and flexibility. She expressed appreciation for the focus on results, enabling organizations to adapt and allocate resources where they are most needed.

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However, the program is not without risks. Lees-McCowan highlighted verification as the primary concern. Street Child UK’s efforts to improve learning outcomes are measured against a control group of schools in Ghana, introducing the risk of unnoticed interventions affecting the control schools and distorting the comparison. Additionally, external factors beyond the implementers’ control, such as changes in the academic

Ghana’s Education Sector undergoing reforms — Education Minister

In a speech delivered by the Director for Pre-Tertiary Education on behalf of the Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Edutwum, it was announced that Ghana’s education sector is undergoing significant reforms to adapt to global changes. These reforms include the revitalization of Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutions at all levels and the introduction of pre-engineering and robotics programs in Senior High Schools. Additionally, the government plans to upgrade Colleges of Education from diploma-awarding institutions to degree-awarding institutions and establish new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) institutions across the country. These initiatives aim to create an environment and offer courses that will equip graduates with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete globally.

At the 70th-anniversary celebration of Apam Senior High School, the Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Kwesi Anim Yeboah, emphasized the importance of hard work, perseverance, and dedication in achieving success. He warned students against engaging in drug abuse, laziness, chronic indiscipline, and prioritizing academic excellence. Justice Anim Yeboah urged students to take advantage of the present technological age and fully utilize the learning environment in Senior High Schools, as missing such an opportunity would be challenging to overcome. He highlighted the unfortunate consequences that students face when they neglect their studies or lack discipline, often leading to abandoned dreams and destitution.

Ghana launches $30M into education

In his speech, the Director General of the Ghana Education Service, Dr. Eric Nkansah, explained the criteria for a school to qualify as a category ‘A’ school. He emphasized that a school’s performance, including behavior and community perception, significantly contributes to its categorization. Dr. Nkansah encouraged alumni to promote the school and inspire students to choose Great APASS, thus increasing its chances of achieving ‘A’ category status.

The Board Chairman of the School’s Governing Board, Nana Obokomatta, IX, expressed gratitude to the President, Road Minister, and Chief Justice for their efforts in asphalting the campus roads and constructing a modern girls’ dormitory despite the challenging economic conditions. The Headmistress of Apam Secondary School, Mrs. Comfort Essah Amoaful, appealed to the government for additional teachers’ accommodation to enhance discipline, which she regarded as a core value for academic excellence. Mrs. Amoaful also requested the construction of a staff common room, a modern visual art studio, accessories for the School’s Regimental Band, toilet facilities, and improved furniture to facilitate teaching and learning.

In conclusion, Ghana’s education sector is undergoing reforms to meet global demands. The Chief Justice emphasized the importance of hard work and discipline for success, while education officials discussed strategies for school categorization and called for support from alumni. The school’s governing board expressed gratitude for infrastructure improvements, and the headmistress highlighted the need for additional resources to foster academic excellence and discipline.

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