A new report by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) shows full equality of learning in Bridge schools’ classrooms, regardless of a child’s socioeconomic background.
The report was based on Bridge schools in Nigeria, which has implications for the same chain of schools in Uganda with 63 academies in remote parts of the country where children from rural communities are able to attain an education. Currently the chain of schools are educating over 14,0000 according to their website.
According to the report titled ‘Learning in Lagos’, factors such as parental income, social economic status, education or language spoken at home had no effect on Bridge students’ academic performance in Lagos Nigeria. But this was not the case in the schools which were compared to Bridge. The report findings suggest that children from even the poorest families attain the same learning as those that are better off if the child attends Bridge.
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.”
The report states: “In literacy, students from better socio-economic backgrounds have higher learning achievement in private and public schools, but not at Bridge schools”. 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.
Experts stated that the DFID findings go against decades of global education research trends that demonstrate family background matters more than the school a child attends, in relation to levels of learning.
Bridge Uganda Country Director Morrison Rwakakamba welcomed the findings of the report in a statement saying there is no learning gap at Bridge schools. “This is a big deal. This study validates our methods, which ensure that all teachers have high expectations for every pupil, irrespective of their families’ income, prior educational attainment, or which language they speak at home.”
Rwakakamba stressed that the “independent DFID report shows 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 serve.”
A DFID spokesperson said that the study will contribute to the growing body of evidence on the role of private sector provision of education in sub-Saharan Africa.
The study was authored by Oxford Policy Management and the University of Sussex and funded, commissioned and published by DFID.
It surveyed over 100 schools including 37 Bridge schools, 38 public schools and 44 other low fee schools. The study was conducted between Jan 15 and Feb.4 at the beginning of the second term of Primary 2 year in Lagos, Nigeria.