For over a decade, Connected Development has worked hard to empower marginalised communities. In particular, its social accountability initiative, Follow the Money helps these communities hold their governments accountable. This project has become even more important due to COVID-19.
In its Kenya, Malawi, and Cameroon COVID Funds Report, CODE found that due to the lack of financial information it was difficult to track where resources were allocated in Kenya alone. This poses a further challenge for communities rebuilding in the post-COVID era.
In these circumstances, private or non-government-affiliated organisations play a significant role by providing resources where they’re most needed. One standout case in the field of education is Bridge International Academies, an Africa-wide school network that is helping revive post-COVID education in Kenya.
What is Bridge?
This school network spans African countries Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda, as well as the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Like its counterparts, Bridge Kenya offers low-cost yet high-quality education to the country’s communities. Its teachers are given data-driven, standardised teaching guides. They are designed to create a dynamic learning environment that gives pupils the opportunity to practice a core set of skills.
Amid COVID-19, Bridge Kenya instituted its ‘@Home’ programme. This provided pupils and their families with the parent-friendly learning guides, self-study activity packs, digital storybooks, and WhatsApp-accessible quizzes needed to continue learning throughout the pandemic.
Currently Bridge provides its education to communities hit hardest by the pandemic as they strive to rehabilitate. The network’s structured teaching system is also helping the pupils close any learning gaps that may have been caused by COVID-19.
The Bridge Effect
Although the structure of learning in a Bridge classroom may seem rigid, the teacher guides that nurture it are just guides. They allow teachers to merge their creativity and innovation with the speed and effectiveness that they deliver their lessons.
2019 Nobel Prize winner Michael Kremer even found that pupils at the pre-primary and primary school levels learn 53% more at Bridge Kenya. In other words, pupils could learn enough in two years’ time that would usually take other schools three and a half years to teach.
This makes a strong case for standardised education, especially today. With pupils going back to school after at-home learning and even younger pupils enrolling for the first time, the low-cost effective lesson plans Bridge provides proves that their method of teaching can quickly help Kenyan education get back on its feet.
Lessons to Share
In reviving post-COVID Kenyan education, we can learn from the challenges that the school network overcame to reach success. One was how to recruit and train teachers best suited to Kenya’s communities. This was solved through the Bridge Teacher Training programme – a rigorous selection process that recruits experienced teachers from their local communities.
Despite being a private institution, Bridge has also gained government support by sharing its “school-in-a-box” methods. This was evident from the launch of the EkoEXCEL programme in Nigeria in 2019 — a programme that’s seen similar results to the findings in Kremer’s study.
Finally, Bridge is taking steps to tackle gender inequality by changing pupils’ perspectives on gender roles while they’re young. All its textbooks, workbooks, and digital storybooks portray male and female characters in equal fashion and represent the latter in empowering and unconventional roles.
When it comes to bolstering Kenyan education post-COVID, Bridge International Academies in Kenya has a lot to offer. Its methods for training teachers, fostering learning, and tackling societal inequalities are definitely something to consider as possible solutions elsewhere in the country.
Article was written for https://www.connecteddevelopment.org/ by Allie Cooper
Allie Cooper is a mother-of-two writer who loves to cover how COVID-19 has impacted different spheres of everyday life – and how we can recover and thrive in the wake of the pandemic. In her free time, she loves reading, baking, and doing crossword puzzles.