Are Pop-Up Schools The Solution To Education In Developing Countries?

In the past 4 years 212 Bridge Academies have opened in Kenya, educating as many as 50,000 children. These ‘pop-up’ schools constructed of tin and plywood seem to spring up overnight due to their basic building structure, but the education they provide is important in order to ensure the future of Kenya will have a skilled and educated workforce.

CEO of Bridge Jay Kimmelman has compared his company’s schools with major international players like Starbucks and KFC in the sense that no matter which school you will go to from their network you will get the same consistency in terms of standards and level of education.

Furthermore, Bridge has its sights set on the neighboring African countries such as Nigeria and Uganda to expand their venture. Their success has been a direct result of the huge demand for their services and because there are many areas unexplored, indicating that Bridge’s influence will only grow in the region.

Bridge’s CEO, a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur named Jay Kimmelman, compares his company to Starbucks and McDonald’s — organizations that offer a consistent experience no matter where in the world you encounter them. Beyond its 212 branded academies in Kenya, Bridge has set its sights on Nigeria, Uganda, and India.

The founders of Bridge intend to be operating in as many as 30 countries to serve half a million people, and the projections for 2025 are even more optimistic at 10 million.

Bridge provides testing for their students up to six times a year and third party testing is provided for reading and math. Students at Bridge schools are performing better than their peers are state run schools, and even private schools.

A goal of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 which was put in place by the United Nations was to remove the need for students to pay any fees, but due to the low standards that free schools provided, the students at Bridge schools found a quality education at a cost.

Bridge aims to narrow this divide with a radically new take on private school. Tuition is just $5 per pupil per month. There are no student iPads, no science labs. Preschoolers work with clay or blocks; older children learn math with bottle caps and recycled egg crates.

The idea behind Bridge’s schools is to provide its students with an education at a very low cost, with facilities that can be set up quickly and that are cheap to maintain — an appealing proposition for regions eager to improve education on a tight budget.