How A Kenyan Startup Became the Fastest Growing Chain of Schools on Earth

Bridge International Academies is leveraging data and technology to bring world-class education to families living on an average of $1.24 a day per person. As of Sept 2014, Bridge operates over 350 academies in Kenya employing 4,500 people and educating 100,000 children for just $6 a month on average. Already, Bridge has proven that its service changes children’s lives, delivering an impact of 0.44 standard deviations in reading and 0.33 in maths. Bridge expects to reach 10,000,000 pupils by 2025.

Systemic change is only going to begin when we educate all of our girls. Tweet This Quote

In Kenya, 65 percent of girls have dropped out of school. With a gender parity index of 97, Bridge is working to democratize the right to succeed, for girls and boys alike.

This post is part of a series profiling ventures in first accelerator program dedicated to impacting the lives of millions of girls in poverty. For more information on the program, check out the Girl Effect Accelerator website.

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  • I’ve certainly heard of buying in bulk but I’ve never heard of teaching in bulk. What a creative idea, I really believe that this takes the initiative to educate to all new heights and extremes and with those numbers to back up the project I can’t see how this would be unsuccessful.

  • His model of scale being able to teach so much more affluently while also being effective is a great approach. I really like the idea of providing the most abundant information to these children efficiently.

  • Exactly! The scale that they are using allows them to reach an exponentially higher number of students than if they used more traditional methods. Not to mention the information they are teaching is coming from accredited sources and the teachers actually show up!! I just hope they’re able to continue on their intended path and can do this in other countries that could seriously benefit.

  • I totally agree. Teaching in bulk is definitely a creative and super possible way of changing education in Africa. The next step is it possible to get several huge names in the mix to help with this and promoting it? Perhaps Google could make there homepage a feature about this organization for a week or something to raise awareness.

  • I think this concept of providing affordable education to children across the globe is a great idea. Not only will it benefit the lives of these children but it will help their families and future generations.

  • I believe this model is absolutely Amazing! Not only are they able to provide affordable education, while reaching thousands of students daily, but they are also serving as an opportunity for these students to break the cyclical pattern of poverty that impacts these communities and countries. As he mentioned, for each student who is educated, 90% of their earnings during their life (which increase exponentially each year in the program) back to their family and their community. I find this to be absolutely remarkable because each individual life positively impacted from this program ultimately reaches so many more lives, and establishes a new positive cycle of opportunity in reverse of the cycle of poverty. It is stories and organizations like these that make me believe with passion and purpose, we can alleviate many problems many may initially find to be ‘too large’.

  • I was thinking along the same lines. The ‘teaching in bulk’ idea is great and allows access to far more students than regular methods of schooling might, while at the same time providing more informed, structured lessons. And, from what I understood, this formula would allow teachers in these areas to keep their jobs while hopefully gaining something from the teaching experience just as the students are. I also agree with what Sade said about it decreasing their cost even further. I’m sure the more word of this work spreads, the more donations and funding they will receive which will hopefully ultimately allow them to continue this work, while reaching more and more people as the years go on. This is awesome.

  • Bridges International provides a great example of how to provide education to large numbers of impoverished children in a 21st century context. I hope and have confidence that this model will catch on, because, as Jay Kimmelman noted, systemic change will only begin once we are able to educate all girls.

  • Bridges International Academy is definitely doing things right here. They are starting where they need to start by educating the impoverished girls of Kenya and preparing them for success in today’s worlds by giving them the opportunity to learn and grow. Once this circle of how their lives have been going thus far is broken, these girls will thrive and take great leaps into having better lives for not only themselves but also their families

  • We all agree that education is a necessary right that everyone should have access to. It has always been the cost that has driven this ultimate goal down and out of the realm of discussion. I think that this amazing model may provide a great framework for providing affordable education and I am in complete support.

  • I think that this model is amazing and teaching to all while making it affordable is exactly what is needed when little to no education is available. My only concern is how business oriented this man seemed to be. Some of the best teachers that I know are the ones who take a personal interest in their students and don’t always just teach the curriculum. I think that this business model is necessary but it worries me that these children are only going to learn how to pass a test and not what they really need to be successful in life. I may be looking way to much into this issue and overlooking all of the good that this man is doing, but it still worries me. I went to an elementary school that cared more about test scores than education and it didn’t really make anyone more educated, rather they helped people learn to take tests better. This is not the best education model. So I wonder, and most likely need more information on, how these children are being taught and what all this institute is doing to help educate children in life skills not just arithmetic.

  • I think the fact that Bridge helps such a large number of people is outstanding. Also, I was shocked after reading the 65 percent of girls from Kenya drop out of school. By educating and keeping girls in school, Kenyan’s will be able to have a sustainable lifestyle.

  • I think that education is something that everyone should have access to. So many individuals want to be educated, but don’t have the access or money to do this. Every girl should have access to education in order to prosper and be successful in life. This is a great idea that helps enable all girls to get the education they deserve.

  • What Jay Kimmelman is doing with Bridge International Academies is amazing and already making a significant difference in the lives of these impoverished girls and their families. If they can reach their goal of educating 10,000,000 pupils by 2025, their success could be the first step in eliminating the struggle to provide every child with a good, hopefully life-changing education. If other individuals realized the difference they can make in the lives of children all over the world organizations like these could eliminate the problem in its entirety.

  • I think it is wonderful that Bridge is able to get the cost down and provide an excellent education to these girls but I wonder whether there is an outreach program to their parents as well. One of the main reasons these girls drop out of school is because their parents do not feel that it is worth the $6 or $12 for them to continue past a certain point. These girls will never be able to bring back the profits of their education, advanced or not, if their parents are not taught the importance that all children deserve to receive a proper education.

  • Knowledge is one of the most powerful things a human can have and use. The fact that Kenya has such a high level of students that drop out is heartbreaking. It is amazing that Bridge has provided them with the opportunity of education. I look forward to seeing the positive change that it will bring to Kenya!

  • Watching the video, this was too my concern. I think that they should
    create a well rounded curriculum that teaches the students to be more
    versatile than just taking exams. Even in the United States, students
    who test well may not always be the most successful. Although it is an
    inspiring program, they should consider looking at other areas to teach

  • I think this program is extremely powerful and beneficial for everyone. Not only are they teaching thousands of students, but at an extremely low cost to them. Its inspiring to see quality education being taught for only 6 dollars. Although, more experienced teachers would probably be more effective in teaching then just reading off a scheduled teaching plan on a tablet.

  • It is really impressive how much work they put in before even getting to the students, realizing that they need teachers that can properly educate their students is empowering. It’s also really impressive that they keep on top of their classes with all those standard tests. By teaching so much in so little time they can show girls a much broader view of life before they reach puberty which in those parts of the world typically mean marriage and becoming wives, if they can show girls that there is much more to life than that, there will be no stopping what they can achieve.

  • I’m curious if Bridge International Academies is a for profit or not for profit company since they seem to provide excellent education for so cheap. It would be interesting to learn more about the financial data of the company. Also it would be interesting to know the globalization strategies as it expands across Africa and into countries like India. Lastly, Bridge International Academies has an amazing goal to education everyone equally while using scale as a positive tool to improve price, quality, and reach.

  • I agree with you about how education is one of the most powerful things a human can have and use. I also think that everyone should have access to education, so to see the Bridge is helping make this happen is an amazing. I think that it is sad how we take the education we get in the United States for granted because so many people do not have access to it. I am also looking forward to seeing the positive change that it will bring and hopefully it can help many other developing countries.

  • This is a great cause and it takes a certain kind of person to have the drive to make something like this as successful as this

  • It is truly remarkable what they are able to do for so few dollars a month from each student. Pushing forward education reform internationally may be one of the most important things we can do right now. Educating the next generation, so that they may continue to build the world and continue the progress that has been started is paramount moving forward as a society.

  • Thank you for sharing this video. This is an awesome cause and it is great that someone is trying to help these kids. It is sad that the teachers don’t show up a lot of the time and the teachers fail tests that they are supposed to test on. With the new school, it is great that they are able to charge the students by such a small cost, only $6! They are also able to help students succeed which is important! This is a great cause and I am happy that kids are starting to succeed.

  • In places with such incredibly low income, I can see how things like school can seem less important to people living like that. The first priority at all times in those situations would be to just stay alive. Lowering the barrier to entry for services like education is a great step for that. Having things like a proper education in life can give people so much more of a broader perspective on themselves and the world around them. Maybe things like this and other relief efforts can work toward those people being able to elevate themselves, once these programs get the ball rolling.

  • I think those are interesting points to ask. i agree with you that their system of educating people has a tremendously positive outcome. I think this type of globalization strategy is incredible and would not think any less of their intentions regardless of wether they are for profit or not for profit.

  • This is a great alternative to young girls living in poverty who’s only other options in life is to get married and have babies. All children should have the right and the opportunity to get an education and in America, we are so blessed that we are able to go- for free- for 12 years of our lives. Children in poverty stricken countries would be thrilled to be able to learn from teachers who actually knew what they were teaching, and I am so glad that this organization has given them this excellent resource to do just that.

  • With the combination of innovation and determination, Bridge International Academies has transformed the public schooling systems in low income areas of Africa. What they are doing is simply amazing and transforming. The way they can use technology to monitor the teachers and students allows for more improvement because they have access to almost immediate results for the week. It was interesting that a big part of the problem stemmed from the teachers either not knowing the material being taught or just the absence of the instructor. In the U.S we don’t even consider those problems, so to know this issue happens globally is a great eye opener. I love this idea and I think it will take off (even more than it already has) in the near future.