"Liberia's Experiment with Privatizing Education"- A Critique of both PSL and the first report of the RCT study

A recent publication by Steven J. Klees brings both the Partnerships Schools of Liberia (PSL) and a report of the first-year results of a Randomized Control Test (RCT) study under scrutiny. The paper critically analyses the findings of the report and concludes with some significant findings. The RCT study found that the PSL is neither cost-effective, sustainable, nor generalizable to other Liberian schools. Klees' research assumes a similar position.

Contrary to what was reported in the RCT, Klees found that test scores in PSL schools likely increased by 35%-45%, not 60% as reported. He argues that the reasons for this increase likely had little to do with the private management of schools rather they are the result of policy changes that could be implemented in public schools.  The PSL schools had a longer school day, smaller class sizes, better trained and paid teachers and had more resources like textbooks, chalk, pens and pencils.

Additionally, this paper demonstrates that the PSL is an expensive experiment, costing over $25 million over three years- a figure not inclusive of the costs of its planned expansion.

Finally, the paper concludes that Liberia decided to expand the PSL before the RCT study was completed, negating earlier pronouncements by the Minister that the decision would depend on the results of the RCT.  Thus, the very expensive decision to expand PSL seems to be based on ideology not data.

This insightful critique may be accessed here.