Bridge is an education innovation social enterprise serving children in low and middle-income countries. It was set up with the primary goal of helping solve the global learning crisis in partnership with governments, communities, teachers, and parents. The organization delivers or supports high-quality education for primary and pre-primary pupils. It aims to assist in reaching UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 - to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
Bridge is data-driven and technology-enabled. It re-engineered every part of its education system, from teacher training and support, to lesson delivery, construction, and financial administration; to make their approach as effective and affordable as possible. All Bridge education follows local national curriculums set by governments.
Currently, there are approximately 736 million people living on less than US$1.90 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 48% of the time, teaching only 44% of scheduled time. In Uganda teachers were found to be absent from class 57% of the time and only taught 42% of scheduled time. There is also a critical teacher shortage with 6,288,000 needed in Sub-Saharan Africa in the next 12 years.
Not surprisingly, many of the children who manage to complete primary school can’t read at the second grade level, it is estimated that there 330 million children in school and not learning. One in five children in Africa, or 41 million children, are already enrolled in private schools, mostly low-fee, and this percentage is increasing.
Bridge addresses this issue by developing solutions that support teachers and improve student learning. There are broadly two approaches: improving government schools and the other is creating community Bridge schools.
The first approach of Bridge is partnering with governments across Africa and Asia. This includes an evaluation of current needs, strategic policy development and the design of public-private partnership agreements. For example, Bridge is working with the government in Edo Nigeria to improve the performance of thousands of government teachers in state schools.
The second approach is running community schools, these are affordable schools in India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda. These are nurseries and primary schools together on a single campus where the teachers are Bridge employees. The teachers are supported with rigorous training, good materials, lesson guides, and feedback sessions from more experienced teachers.
Bridge has had independent research to verify its approach:
Kenya: Bridge students outperformed the national average for three consecutive years in the primary exit exam (KCPE); most recently by ten percentage points.
Liberia: A gold standard RCT found learning increased by at least 60% across the partnership programme. Bridge students learned twice as fast as their peers in traditional public schools, a 100% increase from the control group.
Nigeria: A UK DFID report ‘Learning in Lagos’ showed that Bridge pupils had higher attainment than their peers. In literacy, 80% of Bridge pupils performed above the sample average, compared to 62% of students in low-cost private schools and 18% in public schools. The report also states: “Students from better socioeconomic backgrounds have higher learning achievement in private and public schools, but not at Bridge schools.”
Uganda: In Uganda, one-hundred percent of its pupils passed the national exit exam (PLE) and over 93% scored in Division 1 and 2; compared to just 56% nationally.
Bridge is in dialogue with national and regional governments around the world to see how it can best help state education systems to offer a stronger nursery and primary education.