More than 800 million children and young people will lack the basic skills or qualifications needed for the modern workforce. Disruption is needed to address this challenge, and the answer can’t be more of the same.
At Omidyar Network, we believe passionately that education can unlock human potential and transform lives. Since 2009, we have invested in a myriad of innovative models that push hard for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which calls for inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. As we all know, while much good work has been done to advance SDG4, we are still too far from hitting the goals.
As investors in ecosystem players like Global Schools Forum, new school models like SPARK Schools in South Africa and Bridge International Academies, as well as EdTech innovators like GeniusPlaza, we see examples of private sector creativity and what can happen when private operators focus on learning outcomes and supporting students, parents, and the public at large.
That is why today we are excited to help launch a new report, Beyond the Mirage. This paper aims to rethink the role government can play in ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education. It asks the reader to look beyond the mirage of system inputs and rather to focus on measuring and being accountable for the ultimate outcomes for students. We believe, along with the authors, that partnerships between public sector and private sector — including school operators — can be an effective path to real change.
Citing case studies from bold and pragmatic programs such as Partnership Schools for Liberia and the Punjab Education Foundation in Pakistan, Beyond the Mirage provides models for education ministries to improve the quality of education quickly by unleashing the potential of the private sector as a partner, not as competitor to the public sector school system. For example, in Pakistan, early results show a 24 percentage point improvement in a quality assessment test after one year of implementation of the Public School Support Programme (PSSP) in 2016. In Liberia, while results are early, first-year students in partnership schools scored 0.18 standard deviations higher in English and math than students in regular public schools.
We recognize that our portfolio alone will never solve all problems or reach all people. Beyond the Mirage provides an early blueprint, based on a real-world experience, that education leaders can use to design systems to scale and support all operators who demonstrate high quality learning outcomes.