Mark Zuckerberg joined the likes of Bill Gates, Omidyar Network, Pearson and IFC to invest into the school seen as East Africa’s fastest growing private school chain and touted as the world’s largest chain of pre-primary and primary schools.
With headquarters in Nairobi and operations in Uganda and a few other markets, Bridge International Academ boasts of a smaller class size of around 30 pupils with students and teachers using latest technology to learn. The Barnes & Noble Nook tablet is used for the Academy’s Internet-based education model.
In February 2015, the school opened seven schools in Uganda in its Africa expansion plans. The same year the firm announced it would launch 65 by year-end then launch in Nigeria towards the end of the year and India in 2016.
In 2014, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, said it had invested $10 million (KES86,800,000) in equity to support the expansion of Bridge International Academies, a provider of high-quality primary and pre-primary education for children from poor families. UK’s development finance institution, CDC invested $6 million in equity alongside IFC.
The funding was to support its plans to expand to more countries in Africa and in India. Bridge already had 80,000 children on board. Everyone is asking what happened to all this money as an September report by Education International found that the academies were using under-qualified teachers, were less equipped and did not follow the country’s curriculum. The ministry of education then ordered them to close but with an injunction, the schools remained open.
Bridge International Academies say the closure is temporary as it intends to appeal the courts decision and probably reverse it. The academies argue their internet-based models are appropriate and the school is not in violation of the children’s’ rights. However, the appeal might not be so easy to come by as the education ministry is headed by Janet Museveni, Uganda’s First Lady.
Founded in 2008, Bridge International Academies serves pupils from families who live on less than $2 per day per person. Bridge International Academies charge KES560 (just over $6) per month in fees.