Bridge International Academies

Bridge International Academies is a large-scale chain of low-cost private schools that uses a technology-enabled approach to provide standardized primary education through its “Academy in a box” model, allowing the chain to scale quickly and keep costs low.

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Bridge International Academies is a chain of over 300 low-cost private schools in Kenya with approximately 100,000 students enrolled. Bridge has designed an “Academy in a Box” model, which seeks to deliver high quality education through standardization. Bridge invests heavily in developing a robust curriculum created by experts in the education field. The curriculum itself is standardized and transformed into scripted lesson plans, which include step-by-step instructions detailing what teachers should do and say during any given moment of a class. Teacher scripts are delivered through data-enabled tablets, synced to headquarters, enabling Bridge to monitor lesson pacing, record attendance, track assessment scores, and update or add lesson scripts in real time.

Lesson standardization enables less qualified teachers to deliver lessons of a higher quality than their level of experience would otherwise allow. Teachers come from the local communities and receive thorough training in delivering the Bridge curriculum. In this way, Bridge seeks to contribute to the local community by driving job creation. Bridge’s curriculum is based on government standards, with a greater emphasis on basic literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking skills in the early grades.

Bridge employs technology in order to reduce the time spent by teachers on non-instructional activities, decrease the overhead costs required to run an academy, and increase the quality of education delivered. For each academy, only one employee is involved in school management, known as the Academy Manager. Many of the managerial and non-instructional activities usually undertaken by an Academy Manager (for example billing, payments, expense management, payroll processing, prospective admissions, etc.) are automated and centralized through the Academy Manager’s smartphone application and teacher tablet application, which are all interconnected and connected to Bridge’s headquarters. This systematization allows Academy Managers to focus on overseeing instruction and building relationships with parents and the local community.

Through its use of technology and scale-driven approach, Bridge is able to keep costs low, offering primary school tuition for $6 a month (average fees as of 2014). These fees are 70% lower than other low-cost private schools in the communities in which Bridge operates, and allows 85-95% of families in these communities to afford to send their children to Bridge Academies, according to Bridge's own research. Bridge is currently developing a sponsorship program to support those students who still cannot afford the tuition. Bridge executes extensive research and scouting before buying property and opening academies in new locations, to ensure it is opening academies in high-need communities, and where the academy only needs to capture 5% of the catchment area in order to be successful.

Bridge International Academies maintains focus on a child’s development and learning outcomes while scaling rapidly within communities and across countries, thanks to proprietary, centrally-managed, and data-enabled systems.  These systems leverage WIFI-enabled smart phone and tablet technologies for community engagement, parent and teacher communication, instructional delivery, pupil and teacher attendance and learning assessments, and operational cash management and procurement. 

Teachers are recruited from the local community, and full curriculum is developed for students.Teacher absenteeism and lack of teacher knowledge and training in Kenya.

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