Education
Reuben Wambugu, Director at Bridge International Academies

As has been synonymous with recent years, some 2019 KCPE candidates have an early Christmas present as they receive their results this week. Many children and their families are celebrating and a whole world of possibility is opening up for them now that they have passed their exams.

With the government’s commitment of 100% transition, there is hope for all candidates: those who scored highly, the average ones and even those at the bottom. One cannot underestimate the prestige that comes with attending a National secondary school, but the possibility of having all primary school candidates transition to high school is much bigger for the country. The possibilities brought by the 100% are huge and the government’s efforts on this must be lauded.

Read also: The secret to stellar results and thriving students is their teachers

Through our model Bridge International Academies (Bridge) has experienced great success. Bridge has been proven to significantly improve learning gains for children.

This year we had 3506 KCPE candidates. For the fifth consecutive year, pupils at Bridge International Academies have excelled in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams, with 10 pupils scoring 400 marks and above and over 300 scoring over 350 marks and above. Another over 1,000 scored 300 marks and above.

These are pupils from low-income areas whose families live on less than $2 a day, yet they are doing as well if not better than children who have doctors, engineers, lawyers for parents. It is for this reason that we continue to make the pupils the center of our learning for even better results.

Free public education and the drive towards 100% transition from primary school to secondary school have significantly improved access to education for all, thereby contributing hugely to the achievement of one part of the United Nations Strategic Development Goal number 4. SDG 4 calls for equitable access to quality education for all. 

A 2017 report by the Global Partnership for education, noted that since 2003, enrolment in Kenyan primary schools has steadily grown to 84%. Nevertheless, As the 2018 World Bank Education Report highlighted ‘schooling is not the same as learning’Access to education alone is not the only barrier to learning in Kenya, but access to quality education. 

It is therefore critical that education stakeholders now focus on the second part of SDG4, that of ‘quality education.’ State and non-state actors need to interrogate this aspect and come up with a road map for it. We need to answer key questions: Whereas children are in schools, are they learning? Are there teachers in schools? Do we have enough teachers to match the number of pupils? Are the teachers in schools teaching? What is the quality of what is being taught in class? Are teachers supported enough?

Over time, education players like Bridge, have tried to answer these questions by putting more focus on an effective support system for teachers. We appreciate that a classroom is only as strong as a teacher and therefore teachers and teaching are at the heart of what we do. We empower, train and support teachers to excel, through the use of technology and continuous mentorship and support. 

Through research and verifiable data we have learnt that the more teachers are supported in their daily work, the more effective they become. It is for this reason we run a very comprehensive mentorship program in all our schools. Teachers teaching in our classes have received continuous training as well as feedback sessions with supervisors, among them education experts. This way we keep their teaching methodology fresh and effective

Even as we improve the teaching aspect of our schools, we must also recognize the role of good behavior in the overall development of the pupil. When we produce well-behaved pupils we are ensuring that they are an all-round pupil, which is critical for their development.

Indiscipline in schools has become a big challenge in our society. No wonder we are seeing more parents calling for the reintroduction of corporal punishment in schools. At Bridge, we have found a solution in reinforcing positive behavior as we teach.

We use this methodology to grow and motivate good behavior and build confidence in our pupils. We publicly reward good behavior as well as teach the pupils that bad behavior has consequences. This is a deliberate part of the learning and not a by the way.

The end result of this model is a motivated, well-disciplined and confident pupil who consciously makes a decision to take up positive behavior and shun indiscipline. Producing a well-disciplined pupil cannot be expected to just happen, it must be a result of a process of positive teaching.

Through our model we have experienced great success. Bridge has been proven to significantly improve learning gains for children. This year we sat the national primary school exit exam (KCPE) for the 5th year. Like all the years past, we significantly outperformed the national average, with our candidates posting an average of —- marks against the national average of —— marks.

Kenya’s education system has grown over the years and continues to do but if we are to fully achieve SDG 4, we need to take measures to ensure that our children in our schools are not just learning, but they are receiving a quality education.

The writer is the Schools Director at Bridge International Academies

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