LOW-COST SCHOOLS, revolutionising education in AFRICA? – VisualPolitik EN


Africa is a continent of challenges, great
challenges. We’re talking about a continent that has
begun a process of modernization, but there’s still a lot to do: Develop a true health network; boost industry,
mechanize agriculture and, of course, respond to the enormous challenge of improving education. If we look at results from recent decades
and identify the countries that have taken the greatest economic leaps, we can see that
the common denominator has been an effort to implement high-quality education systems. In countries such as Japan, South Korea or
Singapore, the commitment to have first-rate education systems really facilitated their
economic transition. Within a few years, all of these countries
went from poor, rudimentary economies to becoming high value-added economic powers. That’s exactly what is happening now in
China. Of course, China’s success is due to many
factors, but throughout this entire process of economic takeoff, education played an important
role. And not only for economic reasons, but also
social, cultural and political ones. And now it’s Africa’s turn. Listen up. (SCHOOLS THAT AREN’T SCHOOLS) Obviously, getting Sub-Saharan Africa to the
education level of developed countries will be a mammoth task that will take decades. And just as a house is constructed from the
foundations up, all kinds of public and private organizations have invested billions of dollars
in reducing illiteracy and improving schooling throughout sub-Saharan Africa for more than
three decades. However… the challenge is sooo enormous…
that there’s still a lot to do. For example, the lack of access to education
in Africa is one of its biggest problems. Despite all the efforts made, more than 20%
of children aged between 6 and 11 still don’t go to school, and if we talk about children
aged between 12 and 14, the figure rises above 30%. The usual reason given for this situation
is the need in the poorest regions for children to work in the fields from a young age and
the difficulty in meeting the costs of education. Because you see, even though the free public
education model has been adopted widely throughout the African continent, parents still have
to pay expenses such as uniforms, shoes, books or transportation. And, of course, in such a poor region this
is often quite complicated. But if you think that the lack of access or
not being able to pay for expenses are the only problems hindering education in Africa,
you’re very, very wrong. The other great, and perhaps most significant,
challenge facing education systems in Africa has to do with very poor teaching quality
and with the wasteful and uncontrolled use of public funds. And many of you may be thinking, Simon, surely
you didn’t expect Africa to have Ivy-league class colleges after just a few years… But wait, because when we talk about “poor
quality teachers” we mean the standard is really low… In many African countries, such as in Sierra
Leone, it’s common to find fake teachers. These are teachers who receive a salary from
the government but who neither teach nor work. Since 2009 in Sierra Leone alone, more than
6,000 fake teachers have been detected and eliminated from the state payroll. Although, to be fair, this doesn’t only
happen in Africa. It’s a frequent problem in other poor countries
too. In Pakistan, for example, there were more
than 8,000 schools that received funds from the state but didn’t really exist. They were ghost schools. Where did that money go? Better not to ask. But that’s not all. Even when teachers do show up… Well let’s just say that in Africa, not going
to school, skipping classes, often has more to do with the teachers than the students. Check this out. Yes, in sub-Saharan Africa it’s common for
teachers to not show up regularly at school. Some studies show that in countries such as
Kenya or Nigeria this absenteeism affects 15% of the entire workforce. But if this already sounds crazy, listen up. In Kenya this percentage increases to almost
50% if we include teachers who go to school but who don’t actually go into the classroom
to teach. And then there’s the fact that it isn’t
uncommon for many teachers who do teach to, well… have difficulties reading or to not
really have a mastery of basic mathematics, even if they’re mathematics teachers. Basically… it’s a full-fledged disaster. And, no, opening more schools ISN’T enough. That won’t solve the problem. More things are needed. But wait just a second, because not all the
news is bad. In addition to public schools and the schools
that NGOs have opened with cooperation aid, there is another alternative that has recently
gained a strong following in the region: Private low-cost education. Yes, yes, you heard that right. Private and low-cost education in the same
sentence. Even though in many parts of the world private
education is reserved for people with high incomes, in Africa this barrier is eroding. Could private education help overcome the
problems of the continent’s education systems? I’m sure you’ve never asked yourself that
question. To delve deeper into this phenomenon and to
figure out what’s going on, in this video we’ll focus on the examples of two very
different countries: Kenya and Liberia. Kenya is one of the stars of Africa’s takeoff. Since 2013, its economy has been growing at
an average of more than 5% per year. Liberia, on the other hand, is still one of
the ten poorest countries in the world and is bogged down with a lot of social and economic
problems. So.. What is a country as poor as Liberia doing
with private education? How and why would a struggling country promote
a private education model? Listen up. (LIBERIA, AWARE OF THE DISASTER) The Liberian government has noticed that it
has a huge problem, so huge that it’s practically impossible for them to manage it themselves. After 14 years of civil war and constant epidemics,
education has remained a second-, third- or fourth-level priority. Add to this uncontrolled corruption and the
failure of public services is evident. Of course disastrous management goes hand-in-hand
with disastrous results. However, the Liberian government has decided
to break the mould and bet on a fairly novel way to ensure that the poorest have access
to better education. The people responsible for this strategy change
are the largest company dedicated to low-cost private education in Africa: The Bridge International
Academies, a company founded in 2008 in Kenya by two American friends. It currently has more than 600 schools that
offer education to more than 120,000 students. But, of course, it isn’t the only company
dedicated to this activity, not at all. There’s also the Rising Academies, another
of the main low-cost private school companies in Africa, which was founded by British and
Canadian entrepreneurs. But… as we don’t have time to talk about
all the emerging companies, we’re going to focus today on Bridge, which is the largest
of them all. And the first question we need to ask ourselves
is… How is it funded? Well… nowadays it can continue operating
mostly thanks to the support of institutions such as the World Bank and with donations
from business heavyweights such as Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, the founders of Facebook and
Microsoft. Because, in most cases, these kinds of educational
companies aren’t profitable. They only appear to be viable because of the
donations they receive. For example, let’s take the case of Bridge
International. In 2016 they declared an income of 16 million
dollars but had operating losses of 12 million. That means their total costs were a whopping
28 million, meaning their costs were 75% greater than their income. But, just a second, don’t think we’re
talking about something like an NGO, not at all. These companies are for-profit. What happens is that they conceive a long-term
business model. They hope that the economic development that
has begun in many African regions will soon allow them to reap the benefits. And of course, in the meantime they receive
support in the form of multiple donations, such as those of Bill Gates, that more than
compensate for all business losses. But they often receive these donations precisely
because they have a feasibility plan. That is, because they expect it to be a profitable,
and therefore autonomous and sustainable project in the medium-term. Of course, spending is easy but managing to
create a self-sustaining project… that’s something else. And it is precisely for this reason, and despite
all these losses, that the company continues with its expansion plan. It’s all thanks to the more than 140 million
dollars it has earned in investments and donations. Surprised? The fact is that in 2016, the government of
Liberia, a country where less than 40% of children receive primary education, decided
to work with Bridge International. Why? Well… because obvious that public education
wasn’t working in this country. (“Teachers don’t show up, even though
they’re paid by the government. There are no books. Training is very weak. School infrastructure is not safe. We have to do something radical.” – George Werner, ex-minister of Education
of Liberia.) The point is that the Liberian government
signed an agreement for Bridge International to operate 93 public schools with more than
27,000 students. Access to these schools is still free, the
government pays for the students. To date, this is the largest agreement signed
between an African government and a private education company. And this experiment seems to be quite a success. In level tests, students from schools managed
by Bridge International achieve much, much better results than students from schools
operated by the state. To give you an idea of the divide, in the
level tests the Bridge students’ results can be 100% higher. That is, Bridge students do twice as well
as students from government-controlled schools. But… just a second, because in spite of
these positive results, not every country is making things easy for this type of education
business. Take for example Kenya, the very country where
Bridge International was born. Listen up. (KENYA’S MISTRUST) Let’s not fool ourselves. Private schools can pose a threat to state-controlled
education and many governments don’t like that. Neither do public school teachers. That’s exactly what’s happening in Kenya
where the National Teachers’ Union has been conducting a very tough campaign against the
low-cost private schools’ model for years. Supposedly they are against the teachers in
these types of centers who don’t have a government license. Even though the students’ academic results
are much better. (“Bridge is unauthorised and illegal”. – Wilson Sossion, secretary-general of the
Kenya National Union of Teachers.) There is some truth however to their arguments. The company itself recognizes it. (‘Technically, we’re breaking the law
but so are thousands of other schools who are operating like this”. – Shannon May, co-founder of Bridge International
Academies.) Among other things, the educational programs
aren’t written in the country they’re destined for, nor do they meet the local governments’
requirements, they’re usually written abroad. In Bridge’s case, educational performance
is even evaluated by Harvard professors. Which, to tell the truth, and without meaning
to offend anyone, is probably not such a bad thing when you consider Kenya’s politicians. Of course, not everything is rosy with the
private model. And sometimes unpleasant situations occur. Companies like Bridge International are still
for-profit companies, which requires parents to keep up with payments. And that can be a struggle in a place like
Africa. However, what’s the alternative? Public schools where teachers go to class
when they feel like it or where math classes are taught by people who hardly know how to
multiply? In sub-Saharan Africa, governments have proven
very ineffective in providing public services. That’s why many alternatives are emerging. In some cases, they are companies and in others
they are non-profit organizations. The important thing is that these initiatives
are revolutionizing education in Africa. (Low-cost schools are transforming Africa. – Forbes) Could it be that investing in private low-cost
schools that aim to be profitable is one of the best ways to help develop quality education
in Africa? Could it be that investments are better than
mere handouts? Leave your answer in the comments. So I really hope you enjoyed this video, please
hit like if you did, and don’t forget to subscribe for brand new videos. Don’t forget to check out our friends at
the Reconsider Media Podcast – they provided the vocals in this episode that were not mine. Also, this channel is possible because of
Patreon, and our patrons on that platform. Please consider joining them and supporting
our mission of providing independent political coverage. And as always, I’ll see you in the next
video.

85 Comments

  1. Please tell me they are run by Marxists and are teaching the kids about ethnic diversity and transgendered utopia.

    Also how they should stop burning forests for food and don't use cheap power fossil fuels to pollute.

    We need to make these 3rd world countries first world.

  2. How come your editing is so inconsistent?

    Sometimes the audio is super wacky (I'm fine with this mostly. Possibly background noise on microphone so had to use camera mic etc, etc..). Other times audio levels are off (Loud music, low vocals). Other times it's just cut weirdly like in this video; I don't know what the first word you said were, but I assume it's "africa"

  3. opening a school on the african continent is a great idea. muslims will kidnap the kids and sell them for sex slaves
    as theyve done hundreds of times before

  4. Tbh Micheal is right..
    I was born in northern Kenya 🇰🇪..
    In a refugee camp..
    They had schools from nursery to primary to high school and those schools weren’t that bad,the problem was that didn’t learn much because the teachers were not giving all the stuffs they needs to run schools and that kinda let everything down,my parents work enough and I move down Kenya into a private school only to realise that private school were really good but the problem was that those teachers goes to school only to chill in their staff and went they goes to teach they just go sit down and let students learn by themselves until their time is up and they get out of the class without teaching anything in class..

    Kenya have the best school system in the world 🌍 yet it’s failing because of these circumstances and let not even talk about my homeland South Sudan 🇸🇸 ..
    Shit is not really good but it will get better one day..

  5. Sweeden: Ha! We already privatized most of our education!
    American Liberals: Let’s Have the Government Control even more education! Like Sweeden!

    Sweeden: But that was in the 70’s when our economy was suffering…..

  6. To be honest i am happy there is still another place worthy of another economic boom and most importantly devolpment of markets. I was really sad that i couldn't take good part of the Chinese economic boom taking stakes especially equity in tech giants who were able to cut cost by the 20-50%. Fingers crossed for africa.

  7. oh I hate the trade unions once they hade honor and fought for everyone now they fight for themselves

  8. Given the rather appalling standard of governance combined with the extremely low public expenditure in Africa I'm inclined to say that if there is a single place on Earth where private education is likely to not just show superior results on a case by case basis, but to actually become the standard and the mainstream due to said results, it is Africa. Public education is likely to just be a poor quality fall back for the poorest 30% or so that can't afford to send their children to a private school at all, even the low cost ones. Rather than fight this Africa should probably go the Swedish route and improve investment in education via providing vouchers for people to use in support of their education costs. It will still need to standardise the level of education provided to ensure some semblance of regularity in what is taught, but until Africa has dealt with it's crippling corruption problem it's probably best for that to remain relatively on the back-burner for a time.

  9. I feel like this could be a great solution to a lot of the issues many African nations have with education. It's got to be careful not to turn into a semi neo colonial project though and could be abused without strong regulation.

  10. Private, low-cost schools in Africa is a pretty interesting video! I truly did appreciate it so much. Thanks a lot for sharing! Keep it up!

  11. Bridge sadly is not that welcome in Kenya becuase of the strong teach unions. The other countries results are actually very mixed and not so successful. The state schools are crap so doing twice as good as crap is still sh!t.

  12. Ha got a picture of George weah president of Liberia .. my country. Lot of corruption right now but the people won’t let up 🇱🇷🇱🇷

  13. Rather than foreigners teaching their students, we should rather teach their teachers. One teacher teaches for about 10-45 students. If one higher teacher teaches for about 30 student teachers, then… do the math.
    In Estonia, we had a thing called Forselius Seminar during Swedish time. He teached for about 150 local teachers, who started teaching in various schools across the country.
    It is said, that from that evolved eventually a school network

  14. There wont' be a Wakanda until they get rid of the morons on the continent. It has nothing to do with Education. China didn't have resources like Africa, But does have human resources. China first use human resources and got investments going way before educating the public. Education is paid by the people not government sponsor etc…In richer parts of china now days, the local government pays for education. But most places before people paid out of pocket.
    Africa wants to be like China needs to get rid of the perpetual begging bowl offer by the West. It literally helps nobody. Instead of relying on yourselves. You make yourselves into slaves and not learn.

  15. A coming population explosion is only going to make the education system worse as the teacher to student ratio is going to be unsustainable to give children proper education.

  16. Who would have ever imagined that teacher's unions stifle the education of children? What are you going to tell me next? Police unions stand in the way of justice in the killing of unarmed citizens?

  17. Stop stating Africa as an ”one nation country” it is an insult and disrespect. No excuses that you get this material from “the Spanish channel”.
    Positives here are still that you take view on some case studies and rise them up but it is not enough and pretty limited.

  18. I’m Kenyan living in Europe and very frequently in Kenya.
    Having attended both private and public schools, Kenyan and British school systems: you miss a big part of the picture, in that not all public schools come equal. Quality varies and it does need addressing but the national education docket is huge. Bridge is a very tiny part of the Kenyan education system; it plays a niche part but the model is not a “saviour” by any means. There are many individual owned private schools (called academies), mission schools (founded by churches), many more founded by other religions. They play a huge role in education and have done so for decades; many offering world class education long before Bridge – despite the clear cases of low quality schools.

    As an example, at different points in time I attend a Hindu public primary school, two academies, a missionary founded public secondary school, a church run private high school and a fully private high school. Most of the top secondary schools in the country are also public.

    You are comparing apples to oranges here. Maybe Bridge can be a saviour in Liberia where UNESCO places adult literacy at 43%, but Kenya did not get to 80% literacy overnight and definitely Bridge didn’t move that needle significantly. They have a great niche contribution but they are nowhere near as impactful, and you really minimise a complex education system with some of the top University Faculties in Africa by focusing this all on the Bridge model.

  19. I think a little higher of Zucker and Gates because they decided to donate to for profit organisation. Zucker might not be as much of a Libtard as he is perceived to be.

  20. 10:19 that's ironic that you thought that there is a need to explain to the viewers that an increase of 100% is twice as much as the original 🙂

  21. So essentially African charter schools? I have mixed feeling about this domestically but the situation in Africa is obviously quite different so I guess if it gets more kids a good education that’s all that really matters.

  22. I hope those Bridge schools do well.
    But the example in Kenya where the state union teachers are fighting back does not bode well.

  23. I was born in Kenya and actually went back there to "experience" an year of private boarding secondary/high school as a teen (I'm sure any African kids with strict Dads know what that means, lol)
    I can see why people may think the teachers don't teach in the classroom 50% of the time… but in my experience, that's because of prep and study time. We woke up at 5am, had breakfast and were back in the classroom from 5:30am-7:30am for "prep" studies, then assembly … and then typical classes with 30 min lunch from 8am-4pm, cleaning, dinner and 1 hr of free time… if we were well behaved. But either way more study/school work time from 7-9:30pm.
    Even on weekends, there was 6 hours a day of mandatory classroom study time. It was ridiculous… and we mostly tried to just fuck around most of the time we were stuck in class after finishing work… but the teacher on duty patrolled all the classroom periodically to make sure our noses were in books.
    Not a good way of living, and it's different for those who just went to day school, but I suspect that's part of the reason for that number… Most boarders even in public schools had similar experiences, though sometimes with a bit more freedom.
    Place I went was stricter than most when it came to a lot of things.

  24. Unfortunately, bridge graduates are not outperforming their peers. And bridge teachers merely recite lessons from a tablet or phone. Almost all are only high school graduates, not teachers. Africa has a problem, but this isn't the solution.

  25. South Africa had one of the best education systems in the world – not anymore. It doesn’t suit the ANC’s agenda to educate the masses. One issue of African higher education is there are simply no jobs. In Senegal people with degrees would go from one company to another on 3 month work experience positions. Ultimately the full time job wasn’t there so now the well educated go to Europe and in particular France.

  26. Why don't African peoples understand that good education must be the first priority for every country regardless of political system.

  27. Thank you Simon, you've really taken us into a journey with the African Continent in the past years, it was a sleeping Giant that is finally waking up and would make a huge mark on civilization.

  28. This is one of the only politics channels i watch where i cant tell how the Presenter votes. An excellent and professional video as always, as you can expect from Simon Whistler

  29. Re: Kenya’s mistrust – that’s pretty much government 101. They don’t like it because they can’t control it. As I learn more about history the more disillusioned I am with government in general.

  30. IMO, Education is the one thing that should be trickle down because by it's nature it is. You have a limited pool of educators and mass public education does not work, just ask America. Having a small pool that expands as students become teachers eventually leads to mass education as it has historically. But unlike America, you WILL NEED to invest in teachers.

  31. I live in Africa, my school has free wi-fi, there are meals on twice a day.

    Currently the Govt is working on a transportation system…I am just sayin…I am university students

  32. The way walmart destroys small business, NGOs erase local economies, but when the cobbler makes his dues by selling shoes that leave childs in boos, well something needs to change.

  33. I feel like my country isn't in Africa. in Botswana we get free education all the way till tertiary where they pay you to go to school.

  34. I have been preaching for many decades that education does not require fancy schools or high paid teachers! Education ONLY requires the student to want to learn. Being hungry for an education produces great people as long as it is coupled with work ethic and hard work!

  35. Teachers get death threats and take bribes while students show up when they feel like it. Not much room for improvement under these conditions.

  36. I wouldn't say private is the best way. Eventually families will be priced out of a quality education. The student loan debt in the United States is a nightmare. Then again, The United States education system did begin as a for profit system, for wealthy families. Then leaders realized they needed more skilled workers that can read & count. This lead to education becoming a publicly taxed need for a stronger economy.

    The United States was once the best in the world for education, because it was tax funded and there was more access to educated individuals that were able to teach specific topics.

    Then enter today's corruption, defunding in communities of color. Then defunding in poor communities in general. Now it's a mess.

    This privatized way appears to be a good jumping pad. If they can avoid heavily corrupt practices that can hinder a populous from a strong education; they will have a prosperous future for their countries.

  37. Yeah. Unions inevitably become corrupt and serve only the union itself.
    And yes, Investments are always better than handouts, with exception to those who are in such absolute dire straits that they need life support.
    With handouts, you spend the money on food/clothes/whatever, and just feel good about yourself afterwards. With investments, you must ensure that the situation gets better and better so that you can actually turn a profit. And in turn, those investing in your same area must make competing improvements to draw your customers to themselves, which forces you to improve to get them back, in a winding spiral of self-actualization. Of course, that spiral only happens if there's sufficient competition (aka, access to the market isn't being artificially restricted, and the biggest player isn't allowed to simply body people out of the market).
    But the point remains. With handouts, your job is done once you've spent the money. With investments, spending the money is only the beginning of the job.

  38. there is nothing wrong with making a profit!
    as long as you creat value… cronny capitalisem is the issue not capitalisem…
    this is great… not perfect but great…

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