Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

  1. Why doesn’t Bridge leave national governments to deliver education?
  2. Why not just invest in traditional public schools?
  3. If Bridge is mission driven, why isn’t it set up as a charity?
  4. Does Bridge make a profit from poor communities?
  5. How can Bridge claim to reach the poorest when the poorest cannot pay?
  6. Is there independent evidence to prove Bridge schools are delivering good educational results?
  7. Are Bridge teachers qualified?
  8. Why does Bridge use teacher guides?
  9. Are all Bridge academy buildings safe?
  10. Does Bridge teach the national curriculum of individual countries?

Answers

  1. Why doesn’t Bridge leave national governments to deliver education?

In many developing countries, millions of children are not in school, and many of those who are, are receiving an inadequate education. Specifically, the Education Commission estimates there are 263 million children and young people not in school and a further 330 million in school but not learning. In addition, UNESCO states that an extra 69 million teachers are needed to achieve the UN education goals for 2030.There is a real need that must be addressed urgently.

Bridge believes there should be truly great, truly free public schools. However, in reality, this is far from being the case so Bridge seeks to help address the huge education imbalance between what is available and what is needed right now.

By demonstrating that high-performing schools are possible even on a developing country’s limited budget, Bridge has empowered governments and others to make informed decisions on how to improve learning. Far from acting separately from government or taking government “off the hook,” Bridge is already an education partner in many countries, helping governments address educational shortfalls and improve learning outcomes.

  1. Why not just invest in traditional public schools?

In Liberia, Bridge is managing public schools through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, and is seeking similar partnerships in other countries as well. The World Bank, the UN, and The Education Commission, among other global institutions, have stated that PPPs are integral to the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goal’s (SDG’s) and, in particular, SDG4.

Reforming public education systems is critical, but often slow moving. Bridge and other social enterprises are investing heavily in developing innovative, affordable solutions to address educational shortcomings in developing countries. Education is in crisis now, and models that can deliver effective reform immediately need to be embraced to prevent generations of children missing out.

  1. If Bridge is mission driven, why isn’t it set up as a charity?

Bridge is organized to ensure that it is both scalable and sustainable. In addition, Bridge has been able to attract investors that governments and NGOs cannot access. To date, Bridge has raised over USD $100 million of investment to bring high-quality schools to some of the most underserved parts of the world.

Bridge believes investment capital deployed toward addressing one of the world’s most pressing problems is a positive force in development.

  1. Does Bridge make a profit from poor communities?

Bridge has never made a profit. It is a long-term investment model and all of Bridge’s partners and investors are committed to tackling the global education crisis in a sustainable and scalable way.

Bridge will only make a profit if it is successful in delivering a high-quality, affordable education to millions of children around the world.

  1. How can Bridge claim to reach the poorest when the poorest cannot pay?

Bridge locates its schools in some of the poorest communities in some of the world’s poorest countries. Bridge’s low fees mean that the vast majority (in Kenya over 90%) of the people near our schools can afford to send their children to Bridge.

The global average fee for Bridge is approximately $7 USD per month per child. In countries such as Liberia, where Bridge is part of Government Public Private Partnership, parents don’t pay fees.

Of course, despite the very low fees there will always be those who struggle. As such, Bridge runs an extensive scholarship programme. The poorest 10% of our pupils are on full scholarships and attend Bridge for free.

It is important to note that many public schools in the countries in which Bridge operates are not acually free – they often charge a wide range of fees for “admissions,” “teacher motivation fees,” “PTA fees,” uniforms, etc. As such, Bridge is sometimes less expensive than so-called “free” public schools.

Parents have the right to choose whether or not to send their children to Bridge and decide for themselves whether they wish to invest in education.

  1. Is there independent evidence to prove Bridge schools are delivering good educational results?

Yes. An increasing body of independent evidence demonstrates the high performance and learning gains of children in Bridge schools – and, importantly, that the longer children are in a Bridge school, the better their academic performance.

In Kenya’s 8th grade national exam (the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education or KCPE), students who had been at Bridge for at least two years passed the national exam at a 63% and 59% rate, respectively, in 2015 and 2016, far above the national average of 49%. For those who studied at Bridge for at least four years, the pass rate was 74%. Thanks to such high scores, many Bridge students have won places at top secondary schools in Kenya and some have even won full scholarships to prestigious American high schools.

In 2014, independently administered EGRA and EGMA assessments conducted in Kenya showed that for reading in the early grades, the gains from attending Bridge were equivalent to 64 more days of learning in a single year. For mathematics, the gains from attending Bridge were equivalent to 26 more days of learning in a single school year.

In Liberia, a midline report will be published soon, which will demonstrate significant learning gains by Bridge students in only the first four months. There are also two randomised control trial assessments of Bridge students and schools underway by Harvard, the Center for Global Development, and the University of California.

In 2017, the first cohort of pupils will take the Primary Leaving Exam in Uganda.

In Nigeria, the UK Department for International Development has commissioned a quasi-experimental study with EDOREN.

  1. Are Bridge teachers qualified?

Each country in which Bridge operates has different qualifications and requirements for teachers. Bridge adheres to all of them.

Bridge provides high-quality professional training and support for all of its teachers, both after they are hired but before they enter the classroom, as well as throughout their careers.

Bridge runs a carefully designed International Training Institute and supports its teachers with continuous professional development programs both inside and outside the classroom. The training prepares teachers to use the technology Bridge provides to teach its curriculum, conduct interactive lessons, lead small group and 1:1 instruction, and use a variety of effective teaching techniques.

A recent World Bank report indicated the average teacher absentee rate in Ugandan schools was 56%, and in Kenya 47%, while in Bridge the rate is about 1%.

  1. Why does Bridge use teacher guides?

Bridge is focused on using the most effective and proven methods to deliver a quality education to its students. Teacher guides (sometimes called scripted education) are widely recognized as an effective delivery method of instruction in numerous academic studies, including Hattie, 2009; Lemov, Woolway and Yezzi, 2012; and Killian 2014. As such, is used across the world by multilateral agencies.

Because of their success, teacher guides are a cornerstone of USAID early-grade literacy programs in Africa, such as Tusome in Kenya, and are utilized as an effective form of educational delivery. They are particularly effective in developing countries where even teachers from certified training programs struggle with core knowledge competencies. In Uganda, for example, eight out of ten state primary school teachers can neither read nor solve basic primary-level mathematics questions.

Teacher guides empower teachers with lessons that have been tested to ensure student comprehension, which means better prepared teachers who can focus on teaching and more learning for the children who need it most.

  1. Are all Bridge academy buildings safe?

Yes. All Bridge buildings are safe and meet local standards and legal requirements. Bridge believes that school performance should be measured by outcomes not inputs. We don’t focus on the aesthetic appearance of our schools, but rather the teaching that is happening in our classrooms and the learning gains achieved by our pupils. Keeping our buildings basic also helps keep costs low for parents.

  1. Does Bridge teach the national curriculum of individual countries?

Yes. We only teach the national curriculum of the host country in every Bridge school.