The WISE Awards

Bridge International Academies

Activity: Helping children living in resource-poor environments by delivering nursery and primary schools that combine 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, 6,000 teachers, 300,000 children reached

Project Representative: Dr. Shannon May


2015 WISE Awards - Happy pupils jumping

About the Project

Bridge International Academies is a network of nursery and primary schools working to realize the dreams of children living below the international $2-a-day poverty line. Bridge leverages research, technology and data analysis to standardize and scale the entire process of high-quality education delivery and to drive continuous improvement across operations. This includes how academies are built, teachers are selected, trained and supported, lessons are delivered and improved, and more. Academy teachers are recruited from the local community and prepared to engage and inspire children inside the classroom and within the community. 
Bridge also helps to improve government schools and government teachers in support of national Education Ministries. Bridge is operating a number of free government schools in Liberia and Nigeria and running training programmes for government teachers in Nigeria. 
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. Globally there are 263 million children and young people not in school, plus 330 million who are in school but not learning, there is a shortfall of 69 million teachers by 2030 - the date by which the international community has committed to making education available to everyone. 
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 these issues by creating affordable schools and partnering with governments to improve existing state schools and state teachers. In these ways, Bridge tackles the shortage of schools and the lack of quality teaching.
They’ve re-engineered every part of the education system, from teacher training and support, to lesson delivery, construction and financial administration, as well as pupil and teacher feedback to monitor progress, to make it as efficient, effective – and very affordable for the communities they serve.
Bridge has proven over consecutive years that its pupils are significantly outperforming their peers.
In Kenya, over three consecutive years, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Bridge Pupils have significantly outperformed the nationwide average. In 2017, Bridge pupils exceeded their peers nationwide by over 10%. This outperformance is impressive since the nationwide average includes pupils attending elite private schools as well as those in government schools.
In Liberia, pupils in Bridge run government schools learned twice as much as those in traditional government primary schools over a period of one academic year. This was according to an independent measurement conducted by a third party randomized control trial.
In Uganda, Bridge schools significantly outperformed the Ugandan national average in relation to the end of the primary school exam. At Bridge over 93% of pupils passed the exam in the top two divisions, Division 1 or 2, compared to only 56% nationally.
Future Developments
In order to fund capital expenditures, research, development, and ongoing improvement into the model at large during this initial development, Bridge International Academies has received financial support from the private sector, social impact investors, charities, and government investors as well as debt and grants from governmental institutions. So far Bridge has raised over $100 million USD to help combat the global learning crisis.