The percentage of children attending school globally has increased phenomenally over the past few decades. Figures from 2013 show that 9 in every ten children of primary school age are in full-time education. This compares to just 50% as recently as the 1960s, and far lower percentages throughout history.
However, this still means there are millions of children who should be learning yet who do not have access to education at the most basic level. In many countries, even those who are in school are not receiving an education that is of a high enough quality to afford them the advantages they need to become skilled, employable adults. Statistics show that around 38% of all children do not learn basic numeracy and literacy skills. This figure includes approximately 130 million children who have completed their first four years of basic education.
The International Finance Corporation is part of the World Bank Group and is one of the largest global investors in education around the world. Working in partnership, Bridge International Academies Kenya and the IFC are delivering a solution to poor communities for better learning outcomes for children. Bridge Kenya provides quality primary and pre-primary schooling that has been proven to be effective, with Bridge students consistently outperforming their peers across the foundation subjects in national exams.
The balance of cost and quality is an integral part of implementing sustainable solutions to quality learning in areas of the world where some of the poorest communities reside. Public schools in Africa may be advertised as free, but parents are often still responsible for all manner of extra costs including uniforms, books, and admissions. In addition, the challenges in the public school system often mean children to finish their primary education unable to read and write.
Bridge International Academies Kenya maintains a system that has been proven to deliver quality educational results while maintaining a price point that can be absorbed into family incomes that average around $136.22 per month. Bridge community schools have been specifically designed to serve this demographic and provide education of the best quality possible without having to raise prices beyond $7.5 per month per child in Kenya ($8 globally), which equates to roughly 4.4% of the average family income assuming an average family size of four or five. Meeting local education needs and the needs of families rather than offering a blanket solution helps to ensure that any new educational systems implemented are sustainable. Accounting for the needs of the local communities and ensuring the participation of the community in any new endeavour builds local accountability into the system. This strengthened accountability and community participation helps to promote interest in learning and generate a different set of expectations.