As part of its strategy to strengthen education access, fairness, and quality, the Ivorian government has committed to strengthening the effectiveness of funding mechanisms at private secondary schools. A study financed by TRECC provides essential data to steer government policies in this area.
In 2011, 749,000 students were enrolled in lower secondary school in Ivory Coast. In 2018 this number has nearly doubled, with enrollment at 1,456,000 students. With the law requiring schooling between the ages of 6 and 16 and growing secondary school enrollment, existing public schools are struggling to meet their needs. To uphold its commitments in education, the government relies on public-private partnerships. Currently, 1,025 private secondary schools receive funding from the Ivorian government to support students and guarantee their access to education.
With secondary school enrollment increasing—and school fees following the same trend—a concern is rising regarding the effectiveness and sustainability of the funding mechanism to improve education access and fairness. The Ministry of Education, Technical Education, and Vocational Training (MENETFP) wanted to find a way address this issue in an unbiased approach, starting with a document review of the current grant system in Ivory Coast for information on access, quality, and governance compared to funding mechanisms in private lower secondary schools. TRECC is assisting the Ministry in this approach by financing a study conducted by ARK-EPG (Education Partnerships Group) in partnership with the Educational Research Network for West and Central Africa (ERNWACA).
“To resolve the access issue, we developed alternative solutions such as local secondary schools to offer rural children—girls in particular—adequate learning environments,” explains Raoul Koné, Deputy Director of the Cabinet in the MENETFP. “But they’re still happening too slowly. For several decades now, the Ministry has used private schools to delegate the power of this government function.”
“When public funding is granted to private institutions, such as in the instance of funding private lower secondary schools, the government must ensure that these institutions effectively contribute to achieving objectives that the government has established in terms of education access, fairness, and quality,” Mr. Koné continues. “A study like ERNWACA’s allows us to start with an analysis of actual facts. Instead of relying on preconceptions or ideologies, we seek out the truth through numbers.”
With this kind of initiative, the government is committing to strengthening governance and transparency in the educational sphere. “When the government puts students in private secondary schools, there’s a check. Teams from the Ministry of Budget visit schools to check that these students are actually there. It’s very important, but it’s also expensive. Therefore, we are considering the possibility of testing a remote monitoring system, for example using a QR code that each student has to scan on a regular basis. As for the quality of instruction, one of the mechanisms we use is evaluating schools, which is done based on resources, inputs, and academic results.”
This descriptive study is a first step in strategic considerations to improve the funding mechanism in private lower secondary schools. A few of ERNWACA’s suggestions for the future include:
- Insuring and improving management, legal matters and monitoring and evaluating the funding mechanism
- Establishing a national strategy and monitoring financing for private schooling, including questions of quality, fairness, and responsibility
- Establishing mechanisms for the impact of funding on schools’ learning results
- Creating a funding policy that includes fairness considerations
TRECC works together with the Ivorian government by supporting strategies and programs in education and early childhood development. The study conducted by ERNWACA together with ARK-EPG will be published on the TRECC website at a later date.