Pupils of the Bridge International Academies (BIA) in Uganda

Bridge Schools – which educates thousands of pupils in Uganda and Kenya – has achieved impressive results in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams; for the fourth consecutive year.

Thousands of Bridge pupils sat the exam and excelled, despite coming from communities like Lamu and Garissa traditionally trapped in the poverty cycle; communities similar to Kasokoso and Namakwekwe where Bridge runs schools in Uganda. 59 per cent of Bridge pupils scored at least 250 marks – with an average of 262 marks. – and were 18 per cent more likely to do so than their peers.

Once again, multiple Bridge pupils have been placed in the country’s top 1 per cent of performers, giving them a highly competitive edge for elite national secondary schools admission. Bridge pupils scored an average of 12 points higher than other pupils nationally, a difference equivalent to almost one full additional year of schooling.

In Kenya, over a million children took the KCPE exam and for the first time there was no passing or failing. Following sweeping policy changes, all children are now eligible to attend secondary school. The KCPE score simply determines which type of secondary school. The results mean that many Bridge pupils will attend secondary education in some of Kenya’s top secondary schools as it was been the case in the recent past with bright pupils.

The performance of girls in Bridge schools is especially impressive. The individual performances of top scorers Stacy Linda Achieng from Bridge Getembe (409 marks) and Victoria Juarez from Bridge Lamu (403 marks) have paved the way for local and national celebration. For the fourth consecutive year, girls attending Bridge for five or more years were the highest performing cohort, averaging 281 marks. In four years, the number of girls attending Bridge schools achieving at least 250 marks has increased by 30 per cent. In communities where girls education often faces cultural challenges these outcomes show significant impact. It shows that strong community engagement, parental support and initiatives like the parent teacher associations can overcome barriers which have prevented girls attending and excelling in school.

The Bridge results have proved, once again, that poverty isn’t destiny. It has demonstrated that children from impoverished communities can successfully compete with the wealthiest sections of Kenyan society; all they need is opportunity. This is not only true in Kenya but, also in Uganda. Last year’s PLE results were another evidence to this. 100 per cent of all pupils that sat exams passed with flying colours and were admitted in good secondary schools. There is a great expectation for this year’s PLE results – due to be announced in January – and a lot of optimism that pupils will do as well as last year

With such evidence of learning gains and great results, is it time for government to consider a public private partnership with Bridge as one of the options to improve on the quality of learning in public schools?