Nobel Prize winner finds ‘dramatic learning gains’ in education methodology now used to underpin Liberian Government’s Flagship Education Program

Nobel Prize Winning Economist Professor Michael Kremer, has released a groundbreaking  study showing ‘among the largest learning gains ever measured’ by a major study in international education. 

The study, focused on NewGlobe’s methodology shows the education provider’s impact is among greatest of any rigorously studied education program.

The methodology in the study is the same methodology that underpins the Liberian government’s flagship education program; Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP) and the work taking place at Bridge Liberia supported schools; its largest partner.

The study was announced by Professor Kremer to Heads of States and Political leaders at the Education World Forum in London, attended by Education Minister Professor Sonii and the Liberian delegation. 

Professor Michael Kremer’s study of  NewGlobe’s methodological approach to teaching and learning, using one of NewGlobe’s programs, found primary school students, through junior high school, after two years in the NewGlobe program are nearly a whole additional year ahead of  children taught using standard methods. If replicated at scale across public education systems, the gains could be enough to put African children – including Liberians – from underserved communities on track to match their peers in countries with incomes three or four times higher.

The study further revealed that for early childhood development (ECD) – typically 3 and 5 year olds – children gain nearly an additional year and half of learning; learning in two years what students in other schools learn in three and a half years. 

The study also finds children taught using NewGlobe’s methods are more than three times more likely to be able to read a sentence by the time they are in first grade, relative to  their peers in other schools. The World Bank estimates that 90% of 10 year-olds in Sub Saharan Africa do not reach this benchmark. 

The NewGlobe methodology delivered a standard deviation increase of 1.35 in pre-primary learning and 0.81 in primary schools, a methodology which is the same as that used by Bridge Liberia; in context this impact  represents learning gains in the top 1% among large, rigorous studies in Africa.

Speaking about the study, Professor Kremer said that

The effects in this study are among the largest in the international education literature, particularly for a program that was already operating at scale. 

This study shows that attending schools delivering highly standardized education has the potential to produce dramatic learning gains at scale, suggesting that policymakers may wish to explore incorporation of standardization, including standardized lesson plans and teacher feedback and monitoring, in their own systems.

The results are an affirmation of the Liberian Government’s LEAP partner – Bridge Liberia – which has been operation across Liberia’s 15 counties since 2017

Bridge Liberia, a program in the NewGlobe portfolio, is the main partner in an innovative and philanthropically funded public private partnership, known as the Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP), designed by the Liberian Government to improve learning for students in public primary schools.

The program was the first Government program to use the methodology developed by NewGlobe and implement it as part of a public education system transformation. Liberia is now known – and regarded – as a model for government public education programs on the continent.

It is the second study to examine the methodology used by Bridge Liberia to improve teaching and learning. A RCT study in 2019 showed that students in Bridge Liberia-supported schools had the equivalent of 2.5 years of additional learning compared to their peers.

It was not long until other African countries – especially in West Africa – began to take cue from such innovation and adopted this model of partnership in education.

Nigeria’s Edo, Lagos and Kwara States in 2018,  2019, and 2022 launched similar government programmes dubbed EdoBEST, EKOEXCEL and KwaraEARN respectively.

What all these government education programs have in common is a partnership with an education provider who is proven as delivering gains in the global south and is getting it right in educational support to governments and communities on the African continent.

President George Weah in his most recent State of the Nation Address acknowledged the improvement in the education sector and the strides the government is making to better the lives of young people through the provision of quality education.

Providing quality education to our future leaders has remained a paramount priority of my Administration.  I am pleased to report that we have made great strides in improving literacy and other learning outcomes in the educational sector, with milestone achievements in the areas of Access, Quality and System Transformation.  

Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, an ardent supporter of education, like many, thinks this partnership brings the relevant change to public education and calls on education stakeholders to support such innovative ideas. 

We should embrace new proposals and new ideas that seek to move us forward as we look for answers to the education problems we face; Bridge Liberia is just but one of the many partners supporting Government through the Ministry of Education to meet this end; we should support innovation to enable us succeed; we should hail this effort

The Bridge Liberia approach to transforming public education, recommended by the  World Bank, combines structured pedagogy with the gathering of real-time data supported by technology for accountability and feedback,  especially as countries struggle to recover from  the global COVID-19 Pandemic. Bridge Liberia focuses on teacher training and leverages technology to empower teachers and improve children’s learning outcomes, through intensive training, ongoing support, scientifically-based digital teacher guides, positive classroom management techniques and real-time monitoring of lessons. 

UNESCO Vice Chair for Education and Managing Director of Bridge Liberia, Gbovadeh Gbilia said:

Improving the future for the Liberian youth is the most important task of the Liberian Government; the children are our future.

As Liberians we are proud that the techniques and methodology used to enable some of the greatest learning gains ever measured, are also being used in Liberian schools. We all want more for Liberia and its children and we are taking proactive steps to get there.

The data-driven scientific learning techniques that underpin this study by a Nobel prize winning economist Dr. Michael Kremer, is the blueprint for the work done as part of the Government’s LEAP program. They are currently supporting the Liberian Government to improve learning for over 75,000 students in 350 public primary schools across the country.

Bridge Liberia is one of the programs supported by NewGlobe, a global education education organization supporting the improvement of public education at scale across State and nationwide programs to ensure more effective learning in classrooms. 

The LEAP program is expected to be a central feature in the Government’s highly anticipated 5 year education sector plan, due to be released in fall 2022.