Embrace the mixed learning economy model to solve our global education crisis

Posted On: 
25th October 2017

Learning transforms lives and increasing access to quality education will bring hope and prosperity to individuals, communities and nations, says Bridge Co-founder Dr Shannon May.

Bridge International Academies is one of the organisations offering innovative solutions to the global crisis.
Credit: 
Bridge International Academies

We live in a global education crisis, with the UN estimating that 263 million children and young people are not in school, plus around 330 million in school not learning. This is because many parts of the developing world have schools plagued with inadequate materials and poor management systems, contributing to chronic teacher absenteeism and a lack of learning.

Organisations such as DFID, the World Bank, the UN and Global Partnership for Education increasingly agree that a mixed learning economy model is the most effective approach to tackling this crisis. Governments, donors, multinational organisations, faith groups, charities and the private sector are together striving to turn this situation around and get more children into quality schools. But there still remains an urgent need to change the huge imbalance between supply and demand for good schools.

Bridge International Academies (Bridge) is one of the organisations offering innovative solutions to the global crisis. By working in partnership with governments, parents, donors and communities we have transformed learning gains for over quarter of a million children in some of the world’s most marginalised communities. In Kenya, our pupils outperform their peers by over 10% in national exams. In Liberia our public school students learn at twice the speed of those in traditional schools.

Our work - running both affordable schools and public schools - is partly funded by CDC, the UK’s development finance institution, so I welcome the recent commitment that DFID has made to supporting CDC’s 5 year strategy. I share their vision of reduced aid dependency and stronger local economies that are self-sustainable. Increasing the capacity and capability of local governments is vital, and describes what we do in the education sector. The World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim has stated that they are also “approaching this from the perspective of how do you improve educational outcomes as quickly as possible.”

Innovation and technology can be utilised to transform the public sector,  providing transparency and accountability in education systems that often have neither. New financing mechanisms can provide opportunity and investment that prioritises outcomes over inputs. A combination of all this can meaningfully tackle the scale of the crisis in a sustainable way. I applaud DFID’s recognition of this and the active policy decisions they are taking to support that view.

DFID is pushing hard to build up the private sector in emerging markets in an effort to create long term self-sustainable growth for people in low income countries. Education is just one sector where this is already proving to be a highly successful approach.

Learning transforms lives and increasing access to quality education will bring hope and prosperity to individuals, communities and nations. We all hope for a future when governments will be able fund efficient and effective education systems that make transformational learning accessible to every single child. However, until that is a reality, we must be pragmatic, work together and embrace a mixed learning economy model so that children have solutions today.