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Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge with the Education Outcomes Fund

The overall mission is to address the global learning crisis by tying education funding to learning outcomes. This project will directly support around 134,700 children in public primary schools in Sierra Leone.

  • Where
    Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Focus area
  • Duration
    2022 - 2025
  • Economy
    DKK 7,9 million
Prime partner: Education Outcomes Fund


Learning outcomes in Sierra Leone remain among the lowest in the world. According to the World Bank’s 2020 Human Capital Index, a child born in Sierra Leone can expect to complete just 9.6 years of school (and just 4.9 years when adjusted for learning) by the time they turn 18, out of a total of 12 years of formal education expected by this age. The 2021 Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) found that 51% of Grade 2 students scored zero on reading comprehension. By Primary 4, 30% of children still scored zero on the same reading comprehension test. In all, attending school is not yet a guarantee for foundational learning in Sierra Leone.  

There have been gains in enrolment and completion rates in Sierra Leone in recent years, but not consistently across all levels of education and with large regional disparities. Gross enrolment rates in the first year of primary schools is close to 137%, as many children too old or too young are enrolled in primary institutions according to the 2020 annual school census. The presence of both older and younger children is attributed to high repetition rates in early grades – due to poor quality teaching and children not being school-ready – as well as parents enrolling children who are too young due to a lack of accessible pre-primary options. 

Currently more girls than boys participate in education at the primary level, but this ratio becomes lower by junior secondary and senior secondary school. Some of the specific reasons that girls drop out of school are related to teenage pregnancy, early forced marriages, school related Gender-Based Violence (GBV), and poor in-school sanitation facilities. 

The Government of Sierra Leone is now partnering with the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) to directly address the country’s learning crisis. EOF is an independent trust fund hosted by UNICEF. The Fund works to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Through partnerships such as this one, they bring together governments, donors, implementing partners, and investors to achieve concrete targets for learning, skill development, and employment. The overarching goal is to scale up results-based financing in education, with the aim of improving the effectiveness of spending and transforming the lives of 10 million children and youth.  

Key activities

The EOF and the Government of Sierra Leone are contracting 5 NGOs to implement education interventions in 326 schools in Sierra Leone to increase the learning gains and the achievement of minimum competencies in the first six years of schooling (P1-P6). The interventions will run for 3 school years. Below are the interventions that will be implemented by the NGOs.

  1. Community integration for shared accountability of schools
    - School development plans will be made by headteachers
    - teacher development and supportive supervision
    - child-friendly and inclusive school environment

  2. School improvement through data systems
    - teacher development, coaching app and routine monitoring
    - national curriculum-aligned materials, accelerated/remedial programs

  3. Community engagement and trainings with school management committees and local stakeholders
    - local education stakeholder engagement
    - training of (head) teachers and weekly observation visits from mentors

  4. Teaching at the Right Level as main pedagocial approach
    - (head) teacher development and support and training to use rapid assessment tools
    - promoting a safe school environment and safeguarding at risk children

  5. Teaching at the Right Level approach
    - improved teacher motivation and capacity tailored to teacher needs
    - community learning clubs focusing on remedial learning
    - promoting a safe school environment and safeguarding
    - involvement of local stakeholders and communities


  • Improve learning outcomes and achievement of thresholds of minimum competencies in a representative sample of primary schools (with a special focus on girls' learning outcomes)
  • Inform which interventions and financing approaches are most effective to improve learning outcomes in education. This will provide the foundations for a strong link between evidence and future policy
  • Build sustainable capacity in schools to deliver equitable learning outcomes
  • Build provider capacity so that a stronger, more outcomes focused pool of non-state providers is available to support education delivery
  • Increase outcomes-orientation in policy making