Africa’s Largest Gains on Learning revealed at Policy Research Forum in Nairobi


The yearly Regional Conference by the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) is currently taking place at the Kenya School of Government in Nairobi.

The three-day conference congregate delegates including officials from national and county governments, representatives of national authorities from the regional blocs, regional think tanks, as well as development partners, civil society and special interest groups to explore the key foundations for a sustainable economic transformation in Kenya.

One of the exciting exhibitions displayed at the conference are the research findings of a new independent study by a Nobel Laureate.

The study discovers that Bridge International Academies have accomplished one of the largest learning gains ever measured by a major study in Africa.

“Bridge International Academies learners are 20 percent more likely to take the KCPE than their peers,” reads the study.

“Attending a Bridge school in two consecutive years increases the chances that a pupil achieves 250 mark or more in the KCPE by over 40 percent; scaling up the possibility of accessing a good secondary education.”

The groundbreaking study led by the 2019 Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Michael Kremer of the University of Chicago finds that underserved children receive 53 percent more learning over the course of their pre-primary and primary school career at Bridge International Academies.

The study reveals that after two years, Bridge International primary school learners are nearly a whole additional year of learning ahead of children taught using standard methods.

For pre-primary learners, Pupils gain nearly an additional one and half year of learning, learning in two years what pupils in other schools learn in three and a half years.

The study also found that Grade 1 pupils in Bridge International Academies were over three times enlightened in reading more than their peers in other schools. The World Bank estimates that 90 percent of 10-year-olds in Sub Saharan Africa do not reach this standard.

In addition, Professor Kremer discovered that pupils starting from the lowest learning levels gained the most, with girls making the same leap in learning as boys.

In academic terms, Bridge International Academies increased learning by 1.35 standard deviations for pre-primary pupils and 0.81 standard deviations for primary pupils.

To put these into context, these effect sizes far exceed the 99th percentile and represent learning gains in the top 1 percent among large, rigorous studies in Africa.

The results are a resounding proof of the result of the scientific learning and teaching model used by Bridge International Academies Kenya since 2009.

This model now strengthens public transformation programmes supporting more than a million learners daily across the continent.

The study was launched on stage by the Nobel Prize-winning economist to Heads of State and national Education Ministers at the Education World Forum, the world’s largest gathering of education and skills ministers, hosted by the UK Government in London.

Professor Kremer said the effects on the study are among the largest in the international education literature, particularly for a programme that was already operating at scale.

“This study indicates that attending schools delivering highly standardized education has the ability to produce dramatic learning gains at scale, suggesting that policymakers may wish to explore incorporation of standardization, including standardized lesson plans and teacher feedback and monitoring, in their own systems,” he said.

Reuben Wambugu, Group Managing Director, Bridge International Academies said enhancing education outcomes for the youth is one of the most important challenges of the current generation.

“We are delighted that this study, by a Nobel prize winning economist, has found unequivocal proof of learning gains in our schools, among the largest gains seen in Africa. It is a testament to the holistic and integrated teaching and learning approaches we have introduced in Kenya since 2009,” he said.

“It is particularly pleasing to see those pupils starting from the lowest level of learning acquire the most from attending Bridge International Academies, and that Bridge pupils are much more likely than their peers in other schools to take KCPE exams. We know every child can learn and every child can improve. No child should ever be left behind because of their background.” Added Wambugu

Bridge International Academies has educated hundreds of thousands of pupils in Kenya since it opened its first school in Mukuru community.

Bridge graduates attend top national secondary schools and have gone on to win places at prestigious universities in Kenya and in the US.

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