The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has published a groundbreaking report in Nigeria which shows that there is equality when it comes to learning in Bridge schools.
Even though the report was based on Bridge schools in Nigeria, the findings clearly have relevance in the Ugandan context where the social enterprise operates 63 schools educating thousands of children in some of the country’s poorest communities.
The report also highlights that Bridge pupils know more than their peers in other schools; the majority of children in Bridge schools are from poor families; Bridge teachers have the best relationships with their pupils and that Bridge schools are managed more effectively than other types of schools.
The DFID findings confirm that the methods used and support provided by Bridge to teachers and pupils lead to higher learning than the alternative.
This was seen in Uganda last year when Bridge pupils sat the Primary Leaving Exam (PLE) for the first time and 100% of pupils passed. In addition, over 93% scored in Division 1 and 2 compared to just 56% nationally.
Bridge pupils went on to take up places at some of the most prestigious secondary schools in Uganda.
The DFID report makes clear that at Bridge schools, parents’ income and education was not correlated to children’s learning outcomes.
This is a landmark finding – demonstrating that children from even the poorest families attain the same learning as those that are better off if the child attends Bridge.
A spokesperson for DFID Nigeria said they “welcomed the findings of the independent study that show the need to build the regulatory capacity of government to support school management systems and processes that are necessary for improved learning outcomes in both public and private schools.”
One of the report authors, Alina Lipcan, from Oxford Policy Management, said: “Good management matters, we find a strong correlation with better learning outcomes. We would recommend more programmes focused on better management, so that more schools and pupils can benefit.”
Bridge Uganda Country Director Morrison Rwakakamba said the findings show that “there is no learning gap at Bridge schools.”
Rwakakamba said the independent DFID report proves that Bridge is helping children from poor families to learn, improving access to quality education, and enabling the best overall learning attainment in the local communities.
“We can now say with total confidence that Bridge makes a significant and important overall contribution to education opportunities,” he said.
The report was researched and conducted by Oxford Policy Management and the University of Sussex.
The UK DFID Secretary of State, Penny Mourdant said:“We have tackled the dogma and culture that still exists in some parts of the aid sector, which not only sees organisations failing to put the beneficiaries first but also preventing the private sector from helping deliver those global goals.”
While the CEO of the IFC Philippe Le Houérou noted: “We need to be imaginative and find new and more creative public-private solutions and, in many countries the governments are seeing the potential of working with the private sector.”