Bridge vs. Reality: a study of Bridge International Academies’ for-profit schooling in Kenya

by Education International and Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT)

published 22 December 2016 updated 4 January 2022

Bridge International Academies (BIA) is a large and expanding business that provides for-profit private education in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and India. With support and investment coming from global edubusiness Pearson, the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and high profile actors such as Mark Zuckerberg and the Gates Foundation, the claims that BIA makes regarding its services are impressive, portraying the company as providing a magic bullet solution to educational inequalities and a high quality alternative to insufficient and inadequate government provision.

The study

  1. concludes that the claims made by BIA do not always match the reality. Rather, these claims may more accurately be viewed as part of a marketing strategy to influence governments, development partners and international institutions to support their business;
  2. concludes that BIA offers poor quality education. This poor quality education is provided to the poor at an unaffordable cost, which could be regarded as unethical;
  3. illustrates that BIA education is not accessible to all school-age children in Kenya rather, it could be seen to contribute to educational segregation; and
  4. demonstrates shortcomings on the part of the MOEST and the Quality and Standards department that monitors and regulates education programmes in Kenya as well as the government for not providing sufficient free, quality, accessible education for all.