DFID report shows learning equity at Bridge Nigeria Schools
•Stakeholders seek provision of scalable quality studies
The newly published report by the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development (DFID) has revealed complete equity of learning in Bridge International Academies (BIA) classrooms, regardless of a child’s socioeconomic background.
This report negates decades of global education research that asserts that family background matters more than the school a child attends, in relation to levels of learning.
The study titled “Learning in Lagos: Comparing student achievement in Bridge, public and private schools,” and launched by DFID’s Edoren in Lagos, established that factors such as parental income, education, and language at home had no effect on Bridge pupils’ academic performance in Lagos.
Though the report showed that pupils from improved good socio-economic backgrounds have higher learning achievement in private schools, that was not the case at Bridge schools.
Revealing that Bridge pupils in Lagos are demonstrating higher attainment than their peers in other low fee or public schools, the report read, “In literacy, students at Bridge schools have better performance than pupils at other private schools by 0.35 and public schools by 1.38 standard deviations.”
Some of the stakeholders who were present at the launch include Director General, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mrs Ronke Soyombo; Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mrs. Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli; Head of Human Development, UK DFID, Mrs. Pauline Seenan; Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Dr. Joan Oviawe; Vice President, Policy and Partnerships, Bridge International Academies, Mrs. Adesuwa Ifedi, among others.
They unanimously called for provision of quality scalable education, insisting that all hand must be on deck in seeking what can be done to lift the country’s education system.
The report in synopsis concluded that in Bridge “a child’s family background has no impact on her academic attainment in classrooms; Bridge pupils know more than their peers on literacy; the majority of children in Bridge schools are from poor families; their teachers have the best relationships with their pupils; and Bridge community schools are managed more effectively.”
Bridge is a social enterprise that partners with families, government and donors to provide life changing, affordable education to low income families in underserved communities.
Vice President of Measurement and Evaluation at Bridge Dr. Steve Cantrell, said, “There is no learning gap at Bridge schools. 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.
“Bridge schools are places of equal opportunity and equal learning benefits for all types of children, and especially for the poor. Overall, this independent report shows that Bridge is helping children from poor families in Lagos to learn, improve access to quality education, and enable the provision of the best overall learning attainment in the local communities we serve. We can now say with total confidence that Bridge makes a significant and important overall contribution to education opportunities in Lagos.”
On the quality of Bridge teachers, the report read, “Teachers in Bridge schools report higher motivation than their counterparts in other schools, and are better managed than other schools. Besides, they empower their pupils and build strong supportive bonds. The report found that Bridge pupils were less likely to “hit, pinch, or slap” a child during a lesson (5 per cent) than in private or public schools (both 31 per cent).
Education consultant at Oxford Policy Management, and report author, Alina Lipcan said, “This is the first time we have measured school management in Nigeria. In Lagos public and Bridge schools, we find a strong correlation with better learning outcomes. As a next step, we would recommend more programmes focused on better management, so that more schools and pupils in Lagos can benefit.”
The report marks an important milestone in the debate around Bridge’s role in helping poor families access quality education. “All hands must be on deck to help the approximately 10 million Nigerian children not in school and many who are in school but not learning the basics,” he stressed.
Managing Director of Bridge Nigeria, Olu Babalola, said their pupils excel because of the training and support teachers receive at Bridge. In addition to running community schools in Lagos and Osun states, Bridge also supports Nigerian government schools in Borno and Edo states.
The EDOREN study was authored by Oxford Policy Management and the University of Sussex; funded, commissioned and published by the UK DFID. The study included over 100 schools including 37 Bridge schools; 38 public schools and 44 other low fee schools.
The study was conducted between January 15, and February 4, 2018, at the beginning of the second term of Primary two year.
Onyejekwe-Onyejeli said if Nigeria must unleash the potential of its young people and achieve socio-economic growth and stability, the provision of scalable quality and inclusive education that caters for children from all income levels must be prioritised. The ICT led education model pioneered by Bridge, she said is a potent force for positive change in the way education is delivered in Nigeria.
Seenan said as Nigeria ranked 152 out of 157 countries in the first-ever Human Capital Index (HCI) by World Bank, effort must be made to lift the education sector.
Soyombo called for creation of practical educational policies and frameworks backed by strong political will. She said attention must also be given to education software rather than hardware, since it is the software comprising of syllabus and contents that defines what goes into leaners.
Describing Bridge’s teaching model as good and qualitative, she urged all school owners and managers in the country to evaluate their activities over the years, with a view to creating a change that is obtainable in developed climes.
Bridge teachers use proprietary teacher computer tablet in classrooms. The Bridge’s content developers and the curriculum experts furnish, upload materials and lesson guide to teachers and also monitor their delivery methodology and learning objectives through the platform.
Ifedi, on her part said the future of Africa depends on access to scalable quality education, adding, “how we address the issue will determine whether we will have a great disaster or a great success.”
She said so far, Bridge has 63 schools in Lagos and Osun states.
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