The International Finance Corporation, or IFC, is the arm of the World Bank devoted to development in the private sector. With a focus on extending the reach and quality of education in Africa, the IFC has provided funding to Bridge International Academies, Kenya. The programme’s parent company, NewGlobe, operates a series of Bridge community school programmes and government partnerships throughout Africa and India, concentrating on improving educational standards and opening new schools in the most underserved areas.
The Bridge Kenya and IFC partnership already helps to educate more than a million children in Kenya; with fully supported schools teaching the national curriculum in Kenya. These schools provide quality education aimed at families living in poverty, with income equating to less than $2 per person per day; extreme poverty according to the World Bank. The Bridge model for educational provision utilises technology to deliver standardised learning with comprehensive training and support for local teachers.
Teachers at Bridge International Academies are provided with tablets preloaded with world-class content for lesson planning. Through the tablets, teachers can access a wide variety of teaching resources and training support, enabling them not only to provide each child with a quality education, but to track and monitor the results of the system. By quantifying assessment scores, lesson completion and lesson pacing, The Bridge programme can measure the success of current materials and provision and adapt continuously to best meet the needs of all students.
CEO of the IFC Philippe Le Houérou commented on the decision to include Bridge Kenya in IFC funding at the annual meeting of IFC and World Bank representatives in Bali in 2018. Houérou spoke of the innovative approach of Bridge and its place in the plan to achieve Sustainable Development Goal objectives in terms of education. The methods used by Bridge have been tried and tested, with results demonstrating conclusively that children attending Bridge schools have statistically better educational outcomes. These findings are based on more than a decade of data, including RCT findings, national exam results, and DFID reports.
Houérou further noted that agencies and multi-laterals around the world are increasingly exploring public-private partnerships as one of the most sustainable ways to implement real and lasting change. Investment in the Bridge programmes and its parent company creates unique opportunities to improve education standards throughout developing nations in a financially beneficial way, meaning backers have the impetus and motivation to turn investment into a long-term project. As of 2017, IFC had invested $13.5 million in Bridge International Academies, helping fund education for close to hundreds of thousands of pupils.