Maceo: Take me to the Bridge!

For $6/month, your kid gets an hour more of actual instruction than the public school gives in schools that average 35% higher scores in reading and 20% higher in math than the public schools do (I know, I know, selection bias and all, but still……).

This is the choice for many poor but not destitute Kenyans. Priced out of expensive private schools and seemingly condemned to horrid public ones, these parents now have another choice: The for-profit Bridge schools.

They accomplish this by giving their teachers 300 hours of training, then giving them semi-scripted lessons and closely monitoring performance.

To me, this seems like a huge win, but the Atlantic managed to find one Western nay sayer.

Meet Kate Redman of UNESCO:

“Such an education is unlikely to spur the imaginations of the students or encourage critical thinking or social mobility. It is more likely to lead to rote-learning, and would likely leave little flexibility. There is no evidence it can serve as a permanent approach.”

and of course she also adds this:

“The school curriculum is more than the inculcation of basic skills. It is also a reflection of culture and cultural diversity,” she said. “Only by creating a national curriculum, incorporating cultural understandings, can authorities address particular local and national challenges.”

The problem with Ms. Redman’s lines of attack are of course that in the 30 years since Kenya ditched their colonial era school system, their public schools have not been able to even master “rote-learning”.

People, believe me, “rote-learning” is a very very good thing. Especially when compared to “no-learning”.

I’d like to ask Ms. Redman how many years are Kenya’s poor supposed to wait. How many generations of kids have to get screwed over, before UNESCO gets Kenya’s public schools to work?

I am happy (and frankly stunned) to report that the article quotes a World Bank executive who strongly supports the Bridge’s program.

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