The United Nations has included ambitious targets for global education in its objectives for the 21st century. Beginning with the Millennium Goals launched in 2000 and reaching through to the current Sustainable Development Goals launched in 2015, the UN has been striving to encourage countries across the world to prioritise spending on childhood education as part of the long-term solution to eradicating poverty.
The Millennium Goals concentrated on increasing the number of pupils attending schools in some of the most deprived areas of the world. The SDGs are now focusing on improving the quality of education available and ensuring access to education is inclusive.
Bridge International Academies community school network was established with the aim of improving the options for parents of primary and pre-primary children in terms of access to education in some of the most impoverished regions of the globe. Low-income communities across Africa are often faced with poor quality and overcrowded public schools. Not only is the education on offer sub-par, with teachers largely absent, but families living in poverty are regularly charged with additional fees for areas such as ‘teacher motivation’, homework and school desks. Bridge community schools work to improve the quality of education by providing educational establishments offering private schooling, but with low-cost fees that often undercut what parents are already paying for state schooling.
Poor learning outcomes at the primary and secondary school level of education are strongly associated with skill deficiencies in adulthood. These skill deficiencies have led to a situation where there are an estimated 341 million people in developing countries under the age of 24 who are not engaged in any form of education, training, or employment. Less than 10% of all students in Africa go on to tertiary education, leaving the majority of the population under equipped for filling many employment roles.
Bridge International Academies seeks outside investment from partners around the world to be able to deliver its innovative education model to as many students as possible at an affordable price point for families living in poverty. Their model means that they can leverage investment capital that would be unavailable to NGOs or governments. Bridge Kenya has brought in several key investors including the International Finance Corporation, which is the arm of the World Bank Group that deals with investment in education.
The Bridge Kenya IFC partnership helps to provide many children with life-changing access to affordable high-quality education delivered within local communities, expanding its reach to some of the most underserved areas of Africa and supporting pupils, parents, teachers, and communities. Bridge plays an active role in helping the UN achieve its objectives in terms of education as laid out in the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.