Global Challenges Academy

Sustainable Livelihoods Through Education

Sustainable Livelihoods Through Education in Post-conflict Countries

  • Goal 1: No Poverty
  • Goal 4: Quality Education
  • Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Region: West Africa

There is very little known about how and why parents choose schools for their children once years of conflict have ended. Where does education come from for those that live with high levels of poverty, inequality and unequal access to assets and opportunities?

How we are meeting this challenge

  • The project visited over 1,000 households in Monrovia, Liberia, to gather information around household characteristics and children’s schooling, gender and age to address gaps in education provision.
  • Investigating how parental preferences and household characteristics affect school choice.
  • The research developed a deep understanding of what boys and girls preferred most about the schools they attended in Liberia.
Children at school in West Africa.

Who will benefit

Schooling in post-conflict countries such as Liberia is essential to sustainable livelihood. Education from a young age is often the key to future success. Research, led by Newcastle University, undertook a household survey in a poor area of Monrovia, Liberia to understand how parental preferences and household characteristics such as language and income affect school choice.

Liberia is a post-conflict country that endured civil war from 1989 to 2003. The legacy of the war led to the collapse of the country’s economy and destruction of physical infrastructure and basic services, such as schools. One third of government schools and one quarter of community schools were destroyed, with others damaged by looting and demolition. According to the Government of Liberia Poverty Reduction Strategy (2008) ‘the majority of Liberia’s young people have spent more time engaged in war than in school’.

Our research gathered data from the household itself. It relates parents’ actual school choices for their children rather than through a secondary source such as schools. While free government schools are more widely available in Liberia than in the past, researchers found that parents based their decision on quality of teaching, school reputation and proximity to home and safety.

Researchers found parents were twice as likely to choose a faith based mission school, and 4.5 times likely to select a community school over a government school. Also they tend to keep their child in non-government education as government schools increase in their community. The study paves the way for further work on the topic of school choice in post-conflict countries and their policy implications.

Our researchers want to understand school preference, how it impacts education for young people and its role in sustainable livelihoods. We are interested in working with governments, organisations, communities and individuals in post-conflict countries.

Project team

  • Professor Pauline Dixon, Newcastle University
  • Dr Steve Humble, Newcastle University
  • Professor James Tooley, Newcastle University

Let's work together

If you're interested in working with us on a future research project, or would like to collaborate, email us today: global.challenges@ncl.ac.uk