The WISE Awards

Bridge International Academies

Activity: Helping children living in resource-poor environments by combining engaging lessons and physical activities, including design and creation of textbooks and workbooks along with teaching and learning aids

Name of the Organization: Bridge International Academies

Headquarter: Kenya

Geographical reach: Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, India and Liberia

Number of beneficiaries: 115,000 pupils, 5,000 teachers, 10,000 trained

Project Representative: Dr. Shannon May


2015 WISE Awards - Happy pupils jumping

About the Project

Bridge International Academies is a chain of nursery and primary schools working to realize the dreams of every child living below the international $2-a-day poverty line. Bridge International leverages research, technology, and data analysis in order to standardize and scale the entire lifecycle of high-quality education delivery and to drive continuous improvement across all aspects of operations. This includes how academies are built, teachers are selected and trained, lessons are delivered and monitored for improvement, and more. Academy teachers are recruited from the local community, and are prepared to engage and inspire children inside the classroom and within the community.
Context and Issue

Currently, there are approximately 2.7 billion people living on less than $2 a day. In their communities, there is a huge gap between the education offered and the needs of the population. In Kenya, teachers are absent from class as much as 47 percent of the time, teaching only 2 hours and 19 minutes a day. Not surprisingly, many of the children who manage to complete primary school can’t even read at the second grade level. Moreover, schools can be expensive and even public schools can cost anywhere between $2 and $12 per month. Fifty-one percent of families end up choosing private schools instead, but then fear for the stability and sustainability of their choice as many schools close after only a few years of service due to poor management.
The Solution and Impact

Bridge International Academies seeks to address this issue by developing a scalable Academy-in-a-Box model leveraging world-class pedagogy and school management. The model is able to sustain itself on fees that are lower than 70 percent of the other low-cost private schools in their communities. At an average cost of just $6 a month, 88 percent of families can afford to send all of their children to the Bridge International Academies. In addition, the organization offers a sponsorship program for the best students.

Bridge International’s model provides nursery and primary education thanks to the symbiotic division of tasks between its Master teachers and Academy teachers. Master Teachers develop academic content, leveraging leading pedagogical theories in the form of textbooks, workbooks, practical learning tools, exams, and over 5,000 lesson plans per term out of Bridge International Academies’ headquarters. Academy teachers receive this content through tablet computers, guaranteeing they are always prepared for every class and can concentrate on delivering lessons with expertise, making sure all pupils are engaged and progressing, and building relationships with families. Because tablets are data enabled, Master teachers can communicate with Academy teachers and monitor everything that happens in class, including student results. 

Students’ outcomes are monitored daily in class through homework and assessments as well as annually through Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Assessments (EGRA and EGMA) assessment, administered by an independent Monitoring and Evaluation agency. These studies have found that Bridge International Academies have a significant effect on learning, as compared to neighboring schools.  

Every individual Bridge International Academy is able to sustain its operating costs after just one year following the opening. This includes all operational expenditures, such as the salaries of Academy managers and teachers plus the books and practical learning tools used in class.

Future Developments

In order to fund capital expenditures, research, development, and ongoing improvement into the model at large during this initial development, Bridge International has received financial support in the form of equity from private sector and government investors as well as debt and grants from governmental institutions. By 2017, Bridge International plans to be financially sustainable as a whole.