IDP Foundation recently partnered with external Ghanaian research group, Associates for Change (AfC), to conduct an Impact Assessment aimed at investigating the extent to which COVID-19 has affected the operations of Low Fee Private Schools (LFPS). IDP Foundation serves these schools through its keystone IDP Rising Schools Program.

Based off preliminary fieldwork conducted last month, it’s apparent that the state of many of the schools has significantly deteriorated during their closures. From growing instability in the school’s teaching force to significant decline in infrastructure and materials now in severe disrepair. Adding to these challenges’, schools must also adjust to fit new protocols and teaching environments in lead up to their reopening. Some key areas identified as requiring immediate support prior to their reopening included:

Planning and training related to COVID safety protocols, staff recruitment, and school action plans (operational and financial).

Financial support in the form of startup grants and low interest short-term loans. This would help schools observe COVID protocols by purchasing PPE’s, regular water supply, repair and purchase materials, etc.

The proprietors of these schools are local community members in localities not well covered by the public education sector. They exist in response to increased market demand from impoverished local parents seeking to provide their children with access to a quality education. Due to the low rates these schools charge parents, their profit margins are very thin, making them especially vulnerable to the effects of school closures due to COVID-19. Without the ability to collect tuition from parents, who predominately rely on informal work with inconsistent incomes, these schools struggle to pay (and retain) their teachers, or to keep up with payments for the land on which their schools operate. Additionally, the families of these schools are most effected by COVID’s economic ripple effect, threatening their livelihoods and ability to support their children's access to education.

IDPF commissioned the assessment to understand the immediate needs of the schools and to offer recommendations for ensuring the support we provide is both targeted and evenly distributed. In pursuit of these insights, we are focusing on the following areas of assessment: school management, HR capacity, finances, impacts on teaching & learning, and factors relating to school resiliency. To understand the different perspectives, interviews are being conducted with a wide variety of stakeholders and partners across Ghana’s education sector, including government representatives, financial institutions and funders, school associations, district level NGO & CSO’s, PTA’s and individual parents. These interviews focus on how COVID has impacted schools within IDPRSP, what specific support they require, and what lessons have been learnt that may aid our efforts in strengthening their resiliency.

These schools have struggled to reach their students during closures to deliver education remotely, due to the limited connectivity in the communities they serve. Extensive learning loss is expected amongst their students and so require urgent support to ensure they can reopen and protect the continued learning of already disadvantaged children.

IDPF is currently putting together a relief plan to support the reopening and continued operations of our schools in 2021. We will also be sharing the insights from this assessment with partners and key stakeholders, who also work with LFPS, to encourage further targeted support to these schools.

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