Bridge schools founder rules out closing Kenya academies

Bridge International Academies co-founder Shannon May (R) interacts with one of the school's pupils. PHOTO | FILE
Bridge International Academies co-founder Shannon May (R) interacts with one of the school's pupils. PHOTO | FILE 

The slum-based Bridge International Academies has ruled out shutting its doors in Kenya despite strong opposition from teachers unions and civil society groups.

Co-founder Shannon May said as long as available public institutions cannot accommodate all the children of school-going age, Bridge will continue to expand its operations.

The low-cost institution have since opened more than 400 nursery and primary schools in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria serving about 100,000 children.

“Bridge is a dedicated advocate for the hundreds of millions of children who live in poverty globally,” said Dr May.

“As long as there are 59 million children (globally) not in primary school, and there are a quarter of a billion children who cannot read despite being in school, a child’s right to education is being obstructed.”

On Tuesday, teachers unions joined forces with civil society groups in demanding the closure of the academies for allegedly flouting quality standards of basic education for informal schools.

The team led by Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary-general Wilson Sossion asked the government to shut the Bridge schools.

Dr May, however, maintained that the results of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) released late last month have vindicated the team’s work.

The first lot of Bridge candidates (from two of their schools) had a mean score of 333, a mark above the national set mean score.

“For all 2,900 children who sat for KCPE, the mean score was 264, with 60 per cent of all children passing. Bridge’s KCPE are outperforming Kenya’s national average,” said Dr May.

Dr May said the institutions have served marginalised girls and boys at a cost per child of less than $100 per year per child.

“We are all working toward the same goal of ensuring that all children are in school, happy and learning. Bridge is one part of a wider solution – it is possible to provide radically improved learning outcomes for children on an average cost of less than $100 per year,” she said.