Many of the poorest parents in the developing world are choosing to send their children to low-fee private schools. These schools are owned and operated by local school proprietors who charge an affordable tuition to parents who demand more access and accountability than the government sector can provide. However, despite growing market demand, low-fee private schools lack access to many basic services and are usually disenfranchised and marginalized.
In September 2009, the IDP Foundation, Inc., in partnership with Sinapi Aba Trust (a Ghanaian microfinance institution) created the IDP Rising Schools Program (IDPRSP). The initiative was developed in response to the market demand from impoverished parents who sought to provide quality education for their children. We targeted existing schools reaching those at the lowest levels of the economic pyramid. School fees in these low-income private schools were on average $15 per term. The program began with a pilot study of 105 existing very poor private schools with an initial enrollment of 27,000 primary-aged children. After three years of demonstrated success, IDPRSP has transformed into a fully-developed program that is rapidly expanding throughout Ghana.
The IDP Rising Schools Program is based on a profitable microfinance model that provides school proprietors with extensive training in financial literacy and school management which will enable them to apply for a business loan. The cost of the training is factored into the terms of the loan products which are then provided to meet the specific needs of the school. Topics covered in training include: accounting, savings, handling credit, human resources management, community relations and registration with Ghana Education Services (GES) as a school and business. Proprietors are offered the necessary tools to stabilize their schools and prioritize for the future. The Program partners strongly emphasize working within the Ghanaian government’s educational framework.
IDP Rising Schools Program is a market-driven initiative which respects, recognizes and empowers the efforts of the poor.
We advocate for a strong public-private partnership between the school proprietors and the government in order to support improvements in access to learning and the inclusion of all children.
IDPRSP invests in communities through assisting existing schools not well reached by the public education system. It is a realistic market-driven program which respects, recognizes and empowers the efforts of the poor to achieve education for all.