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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Interesting information on education in Liberia

Report No.: AB3636
Project Name Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women
in Liberia
Sector Vocational training (70%);Adult literacy/non-formal education
Project ID P110571
Borrower(s) Project is a grant for GOVERNMENT OF LIBERIA
Implementing Agency Will depend on final design of the program
Environment Category []A []B [X] C [ ] FI [ ] TBD (to be determined)
Date PID Prepared January 30, 2008
Estimated Date of
Appraisal Authorization

Estimated Date of Board
December 31, 2008
1. Key development issues and rationale for Bank involvement
Liberia’s 14-year long war (1989-2003) debilitated the country’s human development capacity,
paralyzed markets, and left a generation of young people with little education and few skills.
Girls were particularly disadvantaged. In 2003, almost 60% of young girls and 40% of young
boys had no formal schooling (ILO/UNICEF 2005). Their disadvantage reflects long-standing
gender inequality in Liberian society. Preliminary findings from the DHS survey show that more
than 40% of women had no education, compared to less than 20% of men, while 23% of women
and 44% of men had some secondary schooling (DHS 2007).

While both adolescent girls and boys need to “catch up” quickly in terms of education and skills
training for productive employment in the short term – and broad-based economic growth in the
medium and long term – adolescent girls need additional policy and program efforts to achieve
better outcomes. As in many other post-conflict situations, emergency skills training and public
works programs in Liberia have targeted male youth ex-combatants, likely reinforcing rather
than reducing adolescent girls’ disadvantage. The few skills training programs for adolescent
girls, run largely by NGOs, have focused on traditional female skills (such as sewing, soap
production, tie-dying) for which there is little or no market demand. Unless there is an additional
effort specifically targeted to adolescent girls, Liberian policies developed within the PRS
exercise may overlook girls’ economic needs and potential economic contributions; with
subsequent costs for poverty reduction and economic growth.

The proposed project builds on the Bank’s comparative advantage in designing demand-driven
approaches to skills and entrepreneurship training and in conducting serious impact evaluations
of new initiatives. There have been few evaluations of youth-oriented training programs, and
none on programs targeted to young women and girls. The lessons that will be drawn from this
program can be used to change program design, scale up activities, or to replicate the program in
other settings.
2. Proposed objective(s)
The proposed development objective for the project is improved employability and incomes for
adolescent girls and young women in the Monrovia area, and development of a new model for
demand-driven training of youth in Liberia.

3. Preliminary description
The project proposes to provide skills training to adolescent girls and young women (aged 15-24)
in such a way as to increase their employability and place them in jobs or self-employment. The
target population will comprise adolescent girls in urban and peri-urban Monrovia. The need for
investments outside Monrovia will be decided once the results of the initial pilot phase have been
analyzed. The target population may be more narrowly defined, for example, to concentrate on
adolescent girls who have recently completed or are completing the Accelerated Learning
Program, or with a certain educational profile. Further targeting details remain to be determined.

Four government agencies have been identified as key partners and potential government
counterparts: Gender and Development, Youth and Sports, Education, and Labor. All will be
involved in project design and implementation, whether directly or indirectly. The choice of
government counterpart will depend, in part, on the final design of the program and will be
determined in the pre-appraisal mission.

The project design envisions the following four components:

Component 1: Job skill training for wage employment –The focus of this component will be on
providing relevant skills training to girls and young women to enable them to obtain paid
employment. Examples of areas of employment might include high-quality urban services (such
as telecommunications, administrative and secretarial services, equipment repair and contract
management, and the hospitality industry.

Component 2: Entrepreneurship training with linkages to micro-finance – The focus of this
component will be to provide young female entrepreneurs access to training and micro-credit
that will boost their productivity, competitiveness and access to markets. A key element of this
package will be training in business development services, which typically include business
planning, consultancy and advisory services, marketing assistance, technology development and
transfer, and links to finance and financial services.

Component 3: Institutional strengthening of counterpart ministry – The war, under-investment in
human and institutional capacity, and the lack of engagement with the international community
have taken their toll on local capacity for project implementation and financial management in
key ministries. As soon as a government agency is selected to execute this project, the formation
of a Project Implementing Unit will also begin. Institutional strengthening will be focused on
three areas: (i) basic introduction to World Bank operations and fiduciary issues; (ii)
procurement and financial management of World Bank operations; and, (iii) results-oriented
monitoring and evaluation systems.
Component 4: Impact evaluation – The focus of this component will be designing and carrying
out a rigorous impact evaluation framework for the initiative.
Representatives of private sector groups in Liberia have noted the great difficulty in finding
young employees with appropriate job skills, including both technical knowledge as well as what
arereferred to as “non-cognitive” skills, including the ability to show up for work on time,
interact creatively and positively with colleagues, and take initiative to solve problems.1 Given
the relatively slow pace of private-sector jobs growth relative to the high rate of unemployment
currently existing in Liberia, however, providing training only for wage employment would not
be prudent. Thus, the project contains training options for both wage employment and self-
employment (entrepreneurship). Adolescent girls and young women will be able to self-select
into the training option that best suites their needs and preferences.

Ideally, training should be provided for skills and occupations for which demand will be
expanding in coming years. The Ministry of Commerce (2007) predicts that growth will come
from all sectors: agriculture, manufacturing, natural resource extraction, and services. Radelet
(2007) notes that in other African post-conflict countries, output growth was initially most rapid
in the service sector, with agricultural growth rebounding strongly 3-5 years after the end of the
conflict. Growth in manufacturing was the slowest to rebound but the most robust in the
medium term.

The a priori identification of future high-growth sectors in which to conduct training, however, is
prohibitively risky. Instead, mechanisms will be built into the project to ensure that training is
done—thus avoiding a pitfall that has plagued previous training programs in Liberia and
elsewhere. Two mechanisms will be put in place to promote linkages to the demand side of the
labor market and hence maximize the probabilities of employment for graduates of training.
First, a private sector advisory council will be formed to advise training providers on which
employees will be needed in the short-term.2 Second, the institutions offering training for wage
employment will be hired under performance-based contracts: providers that are more
successful in placing their graduates in jobs will be given performance bonuses and will have
their contract renewed and expanded; those that are less successful may have their contracts
Training will be delivered by training providers (which may be quasi-governmental, NGO or
private sector agencies) who will be invited to submit bids to provide services under this project.
The government institution in charge of execution of the project will select, on a competitive
basis and subject to Bank contracting rules, the providers who will deliver the training. Key
criteria for selection will include quality of training curriculum, track record of delivering
training, and documented demand for the skills that the training will impart. Training will stress
development of marketable skills. In addition, training curricula should address some of the
Interviews conducted during the identification mission.
As collaboration increases between the advisory council and the training providers over time, it is possible to
envision training providers entering into direct relationships with businesses to train for particular vacancies or
The project will also consider performance-based contracts for institutions providing business development
services and microcredit to entrepreneurs; it must be recognized, however, that measuring performance in this
component may be more difficultSome potential measures include: beginning a business within six months of
graduation and business surviving one year after graduation.
crucial barriers to the development of adolescent girls in Liberia, including early pregnancy and
endemic sexual violence and transactional sex.

4. Safeguard policies that might apply
[Guideline: Refer to section 5 of the PCN. Which safeguard policies might apply to the project
and in what ways? What actions might be needed during project preparation to assess
safeguard issues and prepare to mitigate them?]
No Safeguard policies apply.

5. Tentative financing
Source: ($m.)
Borrower 0
Gender Trust Funds 2.96
Total 2.96

6. Contact point
Contact: Andrew R. Morrison
Title: Lead Economist, PRMGE
Tel: (202) 458-5062
Fax: (202) 522-3237

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