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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Two girls do homework outside a school in Bamako, Mali. Photo from Adobe Stock.

For Better Learning, Africa Needs Better Data

Which African country is making the most progress in teaching kids to read by the time they reach third grade? Which language-of-instruction policies are most effective in early literacy teaching? Which country is getting the most children to complete primary school equipped with basic literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking skills? The answers? We don’t know because there is no way to know. Comparable data on learning outcomes over the past 10 years in sub-Saharan Africa simply does not exist. 

Institution-Building Innovations in Resource-Constrained Civil Services: Liberia’s President’s Young Professionals Program and Emerging Public Leaders Program

As Liberia begins its transition to a post-Sirleaf government, the President's Young Professionals Program will no doubt come to be appreciated as one of her noteworthy achievements. Yet I can’t resist this opportunity to spell out the four reasons why PYPP and Emerging Public Leaders-type programs could be especially suited to the evolving capacity needs of ministries of finance in constrained resource environments.

Can Outsourcing Improve Liberia's Schools? Preliminary RCT Results

Last summer, the Liberian government delegated management of 93 public elementary schools to eight different private contractors. Given the intense controversy around the program, the government—with some encouragement from our colleagues at Ark Education Partnership Group, who helped manage the program—agreed to randomize the allocation of schools during the pilot, and the three of us partnered with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) to evaluate its impacts.

Liberians’ Eagerness for Debate Can Bode Well for Accountable Leadership

At the Liberia Development Conference, I laid out four interlinked themes vital to Liberia’s future development progress and to pose questions for conference participants, including what Liberia’s development partners can do to leverage their support with stronger Liberian ownership and concrete enduring results. Here, I summarize my speech’s four themes and attempt to give my thoughts in answer to the question I posed to others.

Will an RCT Change Anyone’s Mind? Should It?

We respond to critics of our evaluation of Liberia’s “partnership” school program, distinguishing legitimate concerns about the charter-style program itself—which can be turned into testable hypotheses—from methodological limitations to what an impact evaluation can show.

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