Nairobi — One of the Liberian Ministry for Educations' LEAP partners - Bridge - has achieved impressive results in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams released last month; for the fourth consecutive year. The results support the findings of the Liberian study released last autumn where Bridge was found to have increased learning by 100% in the LEAP (previously PSL) programme.
In Kenya, over a million children took the KCPE exam and for the first time there was no passing or failing. Following sweeping policy changes, all children are now eligible to attend secondary school. The KCPE score simply determines which type of secondary school.
For the fourth consecutive year, Bridge pupils have dramatically outperformed their peers; cementing the trend that Bridge pupils do better. Thousands of Bridge pupils sat the exam and excelled, despite coming from communities traditionally trapped in the poverty cycle; communities like Barclayville and Harper where Bridge supports schools in Liberia
Once again, multiple Bridge pupils have been placed in the country's top 1% of performers, giving them a highly competitive edge for elite national secondary schools admission. Bridge pupils scored an average of 12 points higher than pupils nationally, a difference of 0.19 standard deviations, equivalent to almost one full additional year of schooling. 59% of Bridge pupils scored at least 250 marks - with an average of 262 marks - and were 18% more likely to do so than their peers . This is relevant because historically, pupils scoring above 250 marks have attended much better secondary schools than those scoring below 250 marks.
The performance of girls in Bridge schools is also noteworthy. The individual performances of top scorers Stacy Linda Achieng from Bridge Getembe (409 marks) and Victoria Juarez from Bridge Lamu (403 marks) have paved the way for local and national celebration. Group results are also promising. For the fourth consecutive year, girls attending Bridge for five or more years were the highest performing cohort, averaging 281 marks.
In four years, the number of girls attending Bridge schools achieving at least 250 marks has increased by 30%. In communities where girls education often faces cultural challenges these outcomes show significant impact.
The average score for Bridge pupils increases for each year they study in the school. Pupils who have spent the majority of their primary education at Bridge (five or more years) averaged almost 30 points higher than the national average and are 43% more likely to score at least 250 marks than the average Kenyan pupil.
Bridge pupils are often the first in their families to complete primary school or have access to secondary education, demonstrating how Bridge is a springboard for social mobility. The results have proved, once again, that poverty isn't destiny. It has demonstrated that children from impoverished communities can successfully compete with the wealthiest sections of Kenyan society; all they need is opportunity. This is not only true in Kenya but, as we have seen under LEAP, it is also true in Liberia.
As the Ministry of Education continues to consider the expansion of LEAP in Liberia, they should look at results being evidence in independent Government exams by their providers and ensure that as many Liberian children as possible can benefit. In May 2019, the Government has announced that Liberian 6th grade students will sit the WAEC exam. Bridge will be confident that their pupils can perform as well in that as in the KCPE