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$14 million investment from USAID into low-fee private schools in Ghana

August 2023
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August 18, 2023: The US Agency for International Development (USAID) launched its Advancing Partnerships for Improved Learning initiative with Opportunity International and the Government of Ghana, which will see US$14 million invested into low-fee private schools in the northern regions of the country. This is a significant step for the global recognition of the role which the affordable non-state education sector plays in meeting national education goals. IDP Foundation has played a pivotal role in consulting with both Opportunity International and USAID throughout the inception phase of this initiative, and we will continue to offer our support as the initiative gets underway.  Within the request for proposal stage of the initiative, USAID referenced their definition of low-fee private schools to be an adaption of IDP Foundation’s definition as affordable if school tuition fees fall below GHS 402 per annum, signifying a recognition of IDPF as a pioneer in understanding and supporting these schools. 

The five-year program aims to improve learning outcomes for students through teacher development and training while increasing access to financing for low-fee private schools. They aim to reach over 200 schools serving 52,000 students and support more than 1,200 teachers in earning the Diploma in Basic Education from the University for Development Studies. In addition, over 200 school administrators will be offered skill development so that they can run a sustainable, quality school, while more than 400 teacher mentors will be equipped to deliver training and more than 2,000 teachers will receive regular professional development. This will increase the adoption of the Ministry of Education curriculum. 

 The aim of this initiative is to increase education quality in these schools, as they are currently educating a significant portion of Ghana’s student population. In Ghana, the affordable non-state sector is projected to represent nearly 30% of total school enrollments by 2025. A key part of the focus is gender equity and social inclusion and schools with female leaders and those from marginalized groups will be prioritized in the school selection process, with the same lens applied to teacher certification and scholarship funding. The launch of this investment in the sector signifies a recognition of low-fee private schools as a critical complement to public education. 

 As an early responder to the sustainable opportunity to improve access to quality education presented by low-fee private schools, IDP Foundation is hugely excited by the launch of this initiative. It signifies a milestone in the work we have been doing for the last 15 years to support and raise the profile of the affordable non-state education sector. The recognition from international aid of the market-based financing and supportive training model which we launched with the Rising Schools Program in 2009 is a huge win for the sector. Our mission to attract more financial and technical support for independent low-fee private schools that are often left out of interventions and discourse remains steadfast and we look forward to seeing more initiatives like this one come to fruition. 

 Not only has IDP Foundation invested in low-fee private schools as an element of building resilience into low and lower-middle income countries, but we have also influenced key education stakeholders, such as USAID, by sharing evidence and supporting school visits to low-fee private schools in Ghana. The USAID commitment to investing in low-fee private schools in northern Ghana is a testament to the credibility of the Rising Schools Program and the contribution of low-fee private schools to meeting national education goals by addressing education gaps in challenging contexts such as northern Ghana. This milestone investment demonstrates the impact of our sustained focus on building collective urgency and agency in support of the affordable non-state sector, of which low-fee private schools are the largest subset. 

 IDP Foundation supported this initiative with knowledge-sharing which shaped the identified challenges, goals, and areas of intervention set out in the project activity. We laid significant groundwork in strengthening the operational environment of low-fee private schools in Ghana by catalyzing, and building local capacity for, a sustainable, impact-driven market for school improvement loans and supportive training and several of our key partners and grantees are awardees of the USAID investment. Now our legacy as one of the very few pioneers in this space has led to more recognition and investment in the sector and we are committed to continuing to build a movement of local and global allies, actors, and supporters. 

Our motivation remains as it always has been – to improve the educational outcomes of all children in all settings by supporting the government’s national education agenda. Speaking at the launch of the USAID initiative, Minister for Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, said “Today, we are here to launch a unique endeavor, one that will enable learners in Low Fee Private Schools to receive support. The government has invested in interventions that support 10,000 low-performing public schools in Ghana. In partnership with USAID, through this project, we will support low-fee private schools to complement government efforts. Together, we are creating a more equitable educational environment because there is no public or private Ghanaian child – they are all Ghanaian children.”  

Read more from Business Ghana’s coverage here  

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