The state education system in Kenya has numerous problems. The schools are not only overcrowded but also poorly equipped and in bad condition. So it is not a surprise that many parents send their children to private schools. The American company Bridge International Academies is particularly successful in this. It is expanding in Africa and selling the services of education through the tablet. The Riruta Heiliggeist Primary School in Nairobi proves why this business model is so successful. This public school teaches more than 1,500 students. However, the workload has to be shared by 21 teachers. You can find a lot of potholes inside the classrooms, and the students sit on ancient benches. The regulations set the rule that a class can only consist of no more than 50 children, but some classes have up to 100 students. There is a lack of rooms and teachers. There is no end in sight to the misery. The poor condition of schools is the common thing, so there is no wonder that private offerings, like every Bridge, are booming.
Technology Runs The Schools
Everything looks quite different in private schools. The Bridge International Academy has newly built pavilions. There is a maximum of 40 students in one class. There are colorful display boards, and the teachers work with a tablet. Modern technologies help the management and the teachers to manage the school and to convey the contents. Every manager has a smartphone and every morning there is an update from the company headquarters. The teachers log in via the smartphone hotspot and update their teaching content, as well as, their timetables. So you are always up to date for the classroom. That sounds normal by Western standards, but it was a revolution in Africa.
The special offers came as a reaction to the problems in the state schools. For example, Kenya has approved the law of compulsory education since 2003. But right from the beginning, the schools received too little money and also a few staff for their work. Approximately 80,000 teachers are missing around the country to ensure basic education. Three to five children have to share one textbook. Many teachers often do not show up for the class because they are allowed to look after their families if necessary. So it is not surprising that many parents have looked for an alternative. Sixty percent of Nairobi’s slum dwellers are already sending their children to private schools. Businesses and churches run them and they offer substantial buildings, good food, and qualified teachers also. The Bridge company is the market leader at the moment.
The American company now operates 400 schools in Kenya. The tablet is a central component of knowledge transfer. The state-prescribed content is structured and timed here. The teachers are working by these guidelines. The teaching workload is recorded one week in advance so that the teachers can prepare well for it. The staff even receives instructions on how to encourage independent thinking and creativity of kids. Practical exercises for the students are an integral part of the curriculum. The company is supported by American investors such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.