DFID's work on education: Leaving no one behind Contents

3Improving access to education

51.The Millennium Development Goals focused narrowly on improving access to primary education in developing countries. This contributed to a considerable increase in the net enrolment rate at primary schools across the developing regions, up from 83% in 2000 to 91% in 2015.88 However, despite progress, today 263 million children are still out of school. This includes 61 million children of primary school age, 60 million of lower secondary school age, and 142 million of upper secondary school age.89 These out of school children are likely to be the most marginalised: the very poorest; girls; disabled children, and those affected by conflict and emergencies. Kevin Watkins described this as “the last-mile challenge”.90 In evidence to the Committee earlier this year, Lord Bates emphasised DFID’s commitment to those children and young people most at risk of being ‘left behind’:

We are focusing our efforts on the most marginalised and the most hard to reach, that is what we believe our remit is. We are looking increasingly at refugees and displaced persons, we are looking at people with disabilities and we are looking at girls as being our primary focus in where our education spending is.91

Girls and young women

52.Girls constitute half of the school age population. Despite this, girls are more likely than boys to remain completely excluded from education. According to UNESCO, 15 million girls of primary school age will never have the opportunity to learn to read and write in primary school.92 Girls and young women are less likely to be in school than their male counterparts, with 130 million girls presently out of school.93 Although the headline numbers of boys and girls out of school are similar, global averages mask regional differences and other factors where girls are more likely than boys to be out of school and remain excluded from education.94 In 80 countries, according to the World Bank, progress on educating girls is severely lagging behind that of boys.95 In Sub-Saharan Africa, 75 percent of girls start school, but only 8 percent finish secondary school.96 The poorest girls are also the most likely to be out of school, further reducing their chance of escaping poverty by achieving an education.97

53.Girls’ education, in particular, is vital to achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals, due to all of the drivers behind Sustainable Development Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. According to UNICEF, educating girls has a ‘multiplier effect’ in bringing a multitude of other benefits, such as better health of girls and of their future children, the development of the wider community, helping children in emergencies with psychosocial issues, and even helping defend against HIV/AIDS.98 It also leads to smaller and more sustainable families, reduces rates of child marriage, increases women’s political leadership and reduces harm to families from natural disasters and climate change.99 Lucy Lake, Chief Executive Officer of The Campaign for Female Education (Camfed), told us that education provides an opportunity to “close the loop…in recognising that today’s young girls are tomorrow’s mothers”, who will be largely responsible for the care, education, nutrition and health of the new generation.100

54.However, even when girls are in school, some are still held back from reaching their full potential by attitudes within their communities. One example is social stigma surrounding reproductive health issues. Recent statements from John Magufuli, President of Tanzania, warning schoolgirls that once they become pregnant, they will be expelled from school, highlight this as an ongoing issue.101 A policy imposing a blanket ban on young mothers returning to their education after giving birth seems not only abhorrent but also perverse given the proven role of educational attainment in raising standards of infant and child health (not to mention reducing the incidence of teenage pregnancy). DFID, and other relevant UK Government departments should seek to engage with Tanzania on this issue pursuing a rethink of the legislation that enables such a policy to be enforced.

55.Gender inequalities in the school environment, along with school-related gender based violence, can make girls feel unsafe in school.102 Exposure to violence is always to be deprecated but in particular can damage the development of a child’s brain, severely compromising mental development.103 Within developing countries, it is important to challenge social stigma surrounding gender based violence and girls’ health, especially reproductive health, and to embed programmes within communities. Evidence submitted suggested that to do so, particular attention should be paid to key transition points, where girls are most at risk of dropping out of school, whether between school stages or reaching an age at which they may be expected to marry or work.104

56.Our evidence indicated that more work needed to be done to identify ways to get those girls most at risk of losing out on an education back into school and maintaining their participation. DFID have also led the way here, investing in research and innovative programming, including the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) fund.

The Girls’ Education Challenge

57.In 2012 DFID launched the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) fund, a major initiative to get more marginalised girls into school. The programme aims to improve “the learning opportunities and outcomes for up to one million of the world’s most marginalised girls”.105 It has so far disbursed £300 million to 37 individual projects across 18 countries. The evidence received from civil society organisations was overwhelmingly positive about the Girls’ Education Challenge, (although we are aware that many of the organisations are involved in projects funded through the scheme).106

58.The Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) programme in Tanzania, provided a model for tackling barriers to girls reaching secondary school in developing countries. As part of the Girls’ Education Challenge programme, Camfed has provided support to over 40,000 marginalised girls, as well as over 24,000 less marginalised girls, over 48,000 marginalised boys and over 29,000 less marginalised boys across 201 secondary schools in Tanzania.107 The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) recognised this programme, ‘A New “Equilibrium” for Girls’, which also runs in Zimbabwe, as a strong example of success in focused targeting of marginalised groups in a sustainable way.108

59.However, ICAI’s overall report, on ‘UK aid’s support to marginalised girls’, gave the Girls’ Education Challenge fund an ‘amber/red’ rating, the second lowest rating in these reviews. ICAI found that DFID “needs to strengthen the coherence of its approach to tackling the marginalisation of girls in national education systems”.109 The report highlights issues such as poor design of programmes, a lack of expertise in girls’ education among delivery partners, and difficulties in implementing programmes in challenging environments as some of the reasons for this score, and ultimately suggests three key recommendations for DFID to improve this programme (See Box 2 below).

60.Some of the witnesses to the inquiry did indicate that this criticism was a little severe, however. Pauline Rose told our predecessor Committee that she thought ICAI’s rating to be harsh, stating that some of the actual design of the GEC had been “a bit lost in translation”.110 When Alistair Burt appeared before our current Committee, he stated that the Department also felt that ICAI’s criticisms were “a bit rough”, but that DFID was responding to these criticisms and reporting back to ICAI.111

61.In DFID’s own midpoint evaluation of GEC, the Department did recognise some of the issues highlighted by ICAI’s work, and seemed to be taking criticisms on board in future work.112 The second stage of the Girls’ Education Challenge is in the process of being approved, and £100 million has already been announced. Minister Burt told us that DFID is currently reviewing quality and standards and considering lessons learned in the first phase, as well as issues highlighted by ICAI. According to the Minister, DFID will be reporting to ICAI on this in December, but that the Girls’ Education Challenge remains “a fundamental focus” of DFID’s work on education.113

Box 2: ICAI Recommendations

DFID should develop country-specific strategies for marginalised girls’ education, based on detailed knowledge of the barriers in each context and learning from successful interventions. Its strategies should combine policy dialogue, system building and targeted interventions, and identify opportunities for cross-sectoral working.

In its delivery plans and monitoring of programmes with objectives around girls’ education and marginalisation, DFID should introduce measures to ensure that this focus is not lost during implementation.

DFID should specify how to approach value for money analysis when targeting marginalised groups and harder-to-reach groups, emphasising equity as well as cost-effectiveness.

Source: ICAI, Accessing, staying and succeeding in basic education–UK aid’s support to marginalised girls (2016)

62.In light of SDG5 and the recognised multiplier effect of, specifically, girls’ education in developing countries, we believe that DFID should continue to fund the Girls’ Education Challenge into its second phase, demonstrating how it has used learning from the first phase to inform new ways of working. DFID should also continue to use these innovative programmes to learn more about ‘what works’ to ensure that the most marginalised girls have access to quality education, using this learning across the organisation and sharing it with other donors and development practitioners, looking into opportunities for scaling successful models.

63.DFID should seek to fund some programmes in the second stage of the Girls’ Education Challenge that focus on reducing the incidence of ‘drop out’ at transition points in girls’ development and education. The Department should also consider how it can best integrate the tackling of school related gender-based violence in programmes that it funds.

Disabled children

64.According to the World Bank, fifteen percent of the global population experience some form of disability, which can increase the risk of poverty through lack of employment and education opportunities, lower wages and increased costs of living with a disability.114 Despite this, the Millennium Development Goals, which established a unifying set of development objectives for the international community, made no mention of disability. This is a failure that cannot be ignored. In order to reach the most marginalised in society, disabled people simply cannot be overlooked in this way. Disability is however mentioned in several of the SDGs, which is a positive step in the right direction.

65.It is difficult to estimate how many disabled children are out of school, due to varying definitions and insufficient data. However, recent analysis by the Education Commission estimates that, in low and middle-income countries, around half of all disabled children of primary and lower-secondary age are out of school. This amounts to approximately 33 million children.115 In some developing countries, the figures are even worse, with an estimated 90% of disabled children out of school, according to UNICEF.116 As Julia McGeown told us, disability is “the biggest reason why children are out of school”.117

66.Evidence to the inquiry has highlighted systemic barriers to education for disabled children. Written evidence from Handicap International, for example, states that disabled people are often disproportionately affected by natural or man-made crises. Physical barriers are also a serious issue for many disabled people, whether through lack of decent transportation, arrangements for access or in the inclusiveness of school environments like toilet facilities.118

67.A lack of adequate training for teachers on how to teach children with special educational needs further compounds these problems, and mean that even when disabled children do manage to attend school, they face further challenges in being included in lessons.119 Even when the solution is as simple as a pair of glasses for children with poor vision—as in the work that the charity ‘Clearly’ are doing120—more needs to be done to include disabled children in the learning process when they do in fact attend a school.

68.Much of the evidence we received generally agreed that DFID was doing commendable work in the area of disability, by for example publishing its first Disability Framework in December 2014, as well as an update to this a year later. The development of such a strategy was originally recommended by our predecessor Committee.121 Minister Burt provided a promising example of work that DFID was doing through the Inclusive Education Programme in Punjab in Pakistan, where the Department screened 7,000 children, mainstreamed mildly disabled children into 464 schools, and trained 11,000 teachers.122 The previous Committee saw some commendable work that Leonard Cheshire Disability was delivering, with DFID funding, when it visited Kenya in March 2017.

69.However, it seems there is still much to be done in this area in order to ensure that disabled children are not ‘left behind’. Some of the evidence received called for a more strategic approach in this area. Leonard Cheshire Disability called for the Department to develop a “coherent and progressive” education strategy that meets the needs of the most marginalised groups, including disabled children.123 The British Council stated in their written evidence that, whilst DFID has focused on girls’ education it “has had less focus on children with disabilities and special educational needs in terms of their programming”.124

70.DFID has shown leadership on education for girls and young women in recent years. The Department should now use its influence in the same way to shine a light on the needs of disabled children. It has made great progress with the Disability Framework, but needs to now ensure this is being implemented across all DFID programmes.

71.DFID should use its policy refresh to launch a reinvigorated strategy to support access to quality education for disabled children. We believe that this is a vital area of work for DFID, and hope to undertake a separate inquiry into DFID’s work on disability in our future programme of work.

Education in emergencies

72.In recent years, DFID has had to adapt its working practices to respond to numerous humanitarian crises and the largest displacement of people the world has ever known. We understand what an incredible challenge this continues to be for the Department and are proud of the phenomenal impact of UK Aid on the lives of children and young people caught up in emergency situations.

73.Over half of the world’s registered refugees of school age are not in school. This amounts to around 3.5 million children.125 The mean duration of refugees and IDPs in exile is 10.3 years according to the World Bank. About two million people have been in exile between 10 and 34 years. At the lower end of the scale, 8.9 million “recent refugees” have spent around four years in exile.126 Whichever figure is used, this is not a short term situation. When we questioned the former Secretary of State for International Development recently on the Department’s priorities, she stated that DFID needed to look at the long-term implications of crises like this.127

74.The availability of funding for education in humanitarian emergencies, however, has been unpredictable in the recent past. It is important that there are mechanisms in place to assess the need and make an appropriate allocation of funding for education in these situations. This is an area where value is being added by the “Education Cannot Wait” fund, and DFID’s support for the “No Lost Generation Initiative” (a commitment to action by humanitarians, donors and policy to support children and youth affected by the Syria and Iraq crises).128 However, an even more coherent approach is necessary. The UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, told us:

We cannot forever continue with this situation where the only way we fund humanitarian aid, whether it be for education, heath, shelter or food, is through a begging bowl. We have no assessed contribution system. We have no guaranteed funding. We have no year-to-year promises that you can hold people accountable for.129

75.Children in crisis-affected communities often struggle with a range of social, emotional and mental health barriers which prevent them from attending or remaining in school and this can affect their cognitive development.130 As such, they have different mental health needs to take into consideration when designing teaching programmes. In order to help meet these needs, several organisations have begun to design teaching programming with this in mind. A recent initiative by Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson (a public assessment service to schools and corporations), set out to identify, document and promote innovative ways of effectively reaching refugee children, outlined in a recent synthesis report.131 One example in particular is the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on how non-formal, “complementary” education programmes can bolster refugee children’s ability to succeed in formal education systems.132 This, alongside IRC’s innovative work with Sesame Street to help support children’s education in refugee camps133, present just some methods of engaging with crisis-affected communities.

76.The proportion of humanitarian funding that goes towards education is currently 1.8%.134 When considering that many emergencies are becoming protracted crises135—with temporary solutions setting the scene for how thousands of displaced people are to live for many years—this investment seems low. It is encouraging that DFID’s recently published Humanitarian Reform Policy reflects a new approach to such circumstances, agreed at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, and commits to “investing in education and other basic services, jobs and livelihoods” and promoting new initiatives, such as ‘Education Cannot Wait’.136 Nevertheless, specific proposals for this element of its humanitarian strategy have yet to be outlined by the Department.

Education Cannot Wait

77.DFID played a leading role in the development of the Education Cannot Wait (ECW) fund. This is a new global fund for education service provision in emergencies and protracted crises launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. The fund acknowledges the importance of education to the futures of children and young people caught up in emergencies and their chances of recovery. It has generated considerable international support, raising $90 million—including £30 million from the UK, as the largest founding donor—and expects to reach 4.5 million children in its first two years. Evidence to the inquiry was overwhelmingly supportive of DFID’s work helping to establish the fund and the UK’s substantial financial commitment.137 The former Secretary of State’s position on the high-level steering group also means that the UK will continue to play a central role in the fund as it becomes fully operational.

78.Humanitarian finance suffers from being short-term and unpredictable. However, as we have seen in recent years, crises—such as the war in Syria—are becoming increasingly protracted. This creates situations and environments that are likely to persist and define how many people will live for many years. The ‘temporary’ solutions established at the outset should therefore be designed with this in mind. If education provision is ignored then the futures of the children caught up in them are at risk and the chances of long term recovery, and the avoidance of repetition, will be reduced.

79.As part of its policy refresh, DFID needs to establish a long-term, integrated strategy for supporting education in emergencies, especially in long-term crises, through bilateral and multilateral channels. The aim should be to make establishing effective foundations for getting the affected children back into structured learning environments a priority alongside clean water, food, sanitation and shelter.

Early years education

80.In low income countries, 46% of public education resources are allocated to educate the 10% most educated students.138 85% of children in these countries have no access to pre-primary education, compared to the 82% in high income countries able to access this entry level of education.139 Global spend on early years, or pre-primary,140 education is low. The World Bank, for example, which accounts for 43% of all ODA spending on pre-primary education, only commits 2.7% of its total education portfolio to this area.141 DFID’s expenditure on early years (pre-primary) education is low in comparison to its investments in other stages of education, accounting for under 0.6% of its bilateral education budget.142

81.Numerous submissions to the inquiry encouraged DFID to invest more in pre-primary learning programmes, citing evidence of its impact on improving children’s later educational attainment levels.143 As UNICEF told the Committee, early years education can, “increase the likelihood of primary school attendance, decrease grade repetition and dropping out” and “improve school readiness which in turn results in better primary school outcomes, particularly for poor and disadvantaged students”.144 The organisation argued that “DFID should support efforts to strengthen governments’ ability and commitment to deliver quality pre-primary education at scale as well as encourage program partners to continue to innovate and develop models that are needed to reach the most marginalised children and families”.145

82.Minister Burt conceded that early years education “had not been funded well in the past”. He told us that:

The recognition of the importance of early years’ education, building on that first 1,000 days and everything you do with the child at the earliest stage, is very important. It has not been funded well enough in the past. It has been an area that has been neglected. It does bring the highest returns in the future, and the returns are greatest for the most marginalised children, including those with disabilities and those living in conflict and emergencies.146

However, he was clear that early years education would receive more attention in future plans. He told us:

Do we take it seriously? Yes, we do. I am not sure about where the budget is going but, as part of in-country programmes, it now has a very high priority.147

83.A senior Education Adviser at DFID, Ian Attfield, agreed that “you get the biggest bang for your buck if you invest in pre-primary education”.148 He went on to argue that there may be areas where DFID’s contribution to early years education is under-represented in official figures, as “traditionally most pre-primary classes are run out of the primary schools”.149 Further written evidence from DFID went into more detail on this, using the example of the EQUIP-T programme in Tanzania which includes support for school readiness programmes. This is a programme Committee members were impressed with during their visit to Tanzania, and this further evidence from DFID shows the impact the programme has already exhibited alongside the low cost (just £0.15 per child per day) of its implementation.150 Early years schooling can mean that children are more likely to stay in school, learn better throughout their school education and have better health and higher incomes later in life, yet it has been neglected in terms of funding.151 As UNICEF have stated, “a child’s brain is built, not born”.152 In order for children to reach their full educational potential, it is essential to look further at pre-primary education.

84.The benefits of pre-primary education for later learning are proven and there is a real drive from stakeholders for DFID to invest and do more in this area. Although other donors and organisations, such as USAID and the World Bank, are active in supporting early years education, aid funding for pre-primary remains low. It seems clear that there is the space, and desire, for DFID to contribute to work in this area.

85.DFID should find more effective methods of monitoring its sub-sectoral spend, particularly in early years education where it claims its support is under-represented by the figures available. This will enable the Department to assess what work it is currently carrying out in this area, and where it can add most value or leverage in other resources.

86.DFID should invest more in pre-primary education, bilaterally and multilaterally. It should work alongside donors and organisations already active in this area, such as the World Bank and USAID, to determine where the UK could make the most effective contribution.

Value for Money

87.UNICEF’s evidence to the inquiry pointed to potential pitfalls in DFID’s Value for Money assessments when targeting the hardest to reach children:

DFID should also look to ensure that its Value for Money (VfM) assessments at a programme level are focused on maximising impact, given available resources and not just about minimising costs at the expense of quality or of access by hard-to-reach children. DFID’s interventions will struggle to successfully reach the most marginalised children if its VfM calculations do not recognise that the hardest to reach out-of-school children will require more complex and often more expensive policy responses.153

88.ICAI’s report on DFID’s work on marginalised girls also highlighted value for money as an area of improvement, stating that “DFID has yet to adapt its education Value for Money framework to reflect its commitments on tackling marginalisation”.154 The report said there were limitations in DFIDs use of a payment by results framework in some of its work through the Girls’ Education Challenge.155 When we questioned Lord Bates on this, he stated that DFID was looking to change a number of areas in reaction to ICAI’s review.156

89.DFID should use its education policy refresh as an opportunity to clarify its value for money approach in this area, ensuring it is fit for purpose when targeting the most marginalised children.

Expanding provision: the role of non-state education providers

90.In line with Global Goal 4, national governments should be striving to provide free, inclusive and quality education to all its citizens. DFID, as a donor, should in turn be supporting partner countries to achieve this aim. However, many country governments lack the resources—and in some cases the political will—to accomplish this, especially in the short-term. As a result, in a number of DFID’s priority countries, non-state providers have stepped in to fill the gap in education provision, including an increasing number of low-fee private schools.

91.In countries like Nigeria, DFID states that “the private sector is essential for children to have the right to education, and for universal access to be achieved”.157 In her recent letter to the Chair, the former Secretary of State for International Development reiterated her support for non-state provision in areas like Lagos where the state is unable to provide education for its very large population. DFID explains in its evidence that it is supporting private and low-fee schooling where these circumstances exist, including in Kenya, Nigeria (through the DEEPEN—Developing Effective Private Education Nigeria—project some members of the predecessor Committee engaged with during their visit to Lagos earlier this year) and Pakistan. DFID has also provided funding to low-fee chains in Uganda (PEAS), Ghana (Omega) and Nigeria (Bridge International Academies). Minister Burt told us:

Will we go on supporting low-cost private education in places where children would not otherwise get an education? Yes, we will. Is it the answer to everything? No, it is not.158

92.Understandably, donor support for low-fee private schools is controversial. Where the requirement for parents to pay a fee acts to reduce access to education for the poorest and most marginalised families, this is a source of concern. These families remain DFID’s priority for assistance. However, where governments have proven unable or unwilling to provide education sometimes support for low fee private schools is the only option available to parents. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) encouraged a “pragmatic approach to engagement with the non-state education sector”.159 The Springfield Centre similarly told the Committee:

Discussing whether low-fee schools should be eligible for support is a question raised abstract of context and intended impact… Education systems, and indeed all systems, are comprised of functions and rules, which are performed by different players in different contexts; public, private, and third sector, small, medium, and large, each with institutional histories and reasons why those systems operate in the ways that they do. One size does not fit all when trying to increase enrolment, attendance, and attainment within these systems.160

93.Around 95% of DFID’s education funding goes to government run schools.161 However, with the Department’s commendable focus on value for money, it is important to consider all of the Department’s spend in this area. As the latest Global Education Monitoring Report (published yearly by UNESCO) states, private actors, given their influence in education, “must be held to account effectively”.162

94.Despite its 2014 literature review, DFID still lacks evidence in this area.163 As ICAI noted in its review of marginalised girls’ education:

One of the key choices is between working with national education systems or private sector providers. While DFID does both, for the time being it lacks the evidence to make informed judgments as to what combination offers the best value for money in which contexts.164

95.An ongoing trial on Public-Private Partnership in Liberia, in which the management of some public schools in the country have been outsourced to the private sector, has shed a light on some possible outcomes from low-fee schools. The Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) trail was announced in January 2016 for a three year trial period, in which eight private organisations have been contracted to manage 93 pre-primary and primary public schools. The Liberian Government spends around $50 per pupil per year, and the private operators could have access to up to an extra $50 in addition, as well as providing their own funding on top. The programme has been externally evaluated through a randomised controlled trial which measures the performance of these privately run schools against control schools under government management.165 The Year One results, which have recently been published, show some learning gains through private contractors’ schools, but often with a large price tag attached.166 Although there was a range of money spent on the schools, some operators spent considerably more than the $50 per pupil average spent by the government on schools. The ex post numbers that operators self-reported as expenditure on top of the Liberia Government costs ranged from $40–$663 per pupil (including start up costs), raising questions about the sustainability of this model.

96.A recent study commissioned by DFID found that there was moderate evidence of private school pupils achieving better learning outcomes compared to state school counterparts, as well as moderate evidence that girls are less likely to access private schools. The study also found that evidence on the ability of private schools to reach the poorest and most marginalised was weak.167 This type of research is important, and should help the Department make decisions on its support to private partners.

97.It was brought to our attention during this inquiry that even in ‘free’ government schools in developing countries, there are often ‘hidden costs’ associated with education.168 When the predecessor Committee visited schools in Kenya and Uganda, for example, members found that in state schools, pupils were still expected to pay for school uniforms, meals, and even in some cases water and electricity costs.169 It is important therefore to take this into consideration when discussing government schools. When considering support to education in other countries, it is worth considering the text of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights referenced at the beginning of this Report: “Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages”.170 In light of this, it is understandable that the vast majority of DFID’s support goes to publically provided schools, and we envisage that this will continue.

98.DFID should work where appropriate to support governments to regulate private schools where it has the expertise and resources to do so.

99.More research should be done on how the private sector could be used to improve free, government funded schools. The results of the PSL trial in Liberia are welcome, and it is encouraging that trials like this are creating useful data. This data should be assessed carefully when the Government is deciding if/how to support private operators.

Case study: Bridge International Academies

100.During the Committee’s inquiry, DFID’s links to one particular low-fee private school chain—Bridge International Academies—caused particular controversy. Aware of the support provided to Bridge from DFID, as well as the investments they received via CDC (the public limited private equity company owned entirely by DFID) and the International Finance Corporation (the investment arm of the World Bank, in which the UK owns shares), the predecessor Committee visited Bridge schools in three countries—Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda—and sought oral and written evidence from the company itself.

Box 3: The UK Government and Bridge International Academies

CDC made a direct investment of US$6 million in Bridge International Academies in January 2014.171

At the same time, the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group–in which the UK holds shares–invested US$10 million in Bridge International Academies.172

In April 2014 DFID, through its Impact Investment Fund, managed by CDC, invested $15 million in Novastar Ventures, a venture capital fund which invests in Bridge International Academies.173

In October 2014 DFID—through an Innovation Fund—provided grant funding of £3.45m to Bridge International Academies in Nigeria, as part of its DEEPEN (Developing Effective Private Education Nigeria) programme. This was “a ‘start up’ grant […] to share the risks for Bridge’s entry into the Lagos market”. 174

Source: Various (See footnotes)

101.Bridge teachers use a tablet pre-loaded with lesson plans to teach classes aligned with the national curriculum of each country, ensuring consistency of learning across classrooms. In places where resources are scarce the quality of teaching is generally poor, elements of Bridge’s model are innovative, impressive and scalable. The company operates in highly populated areas where school places are highly contested (e.g. Lagos, Nairobi) and in these areas it is undoubtedly expanding access to education to certain children in its areas of operation. It was clear from our visits that there was certainly a demand for Bridge schools from parents who could afford to pay.

102.However, despite the tablet model, members of the predecessor Committee who visited Uganda felt that the quality of teaching was still variable and was notably poor in the Ugandan Bridge school. Significant concerns have also been raised throughout the inquiry about the company’s relationships with country governments. In Uganda, all Bridge schools have been threatened with closure by the Education Minister after inspectors reported that children were being taught in “substandard facilities and unsanitary conditions”. Bridge’s operations in Kenya are still being threatened due to an alleged lack of compliance with government regulations. Concerns have also been raised about the higher cost of fees in Bridge schools.

103.Bridge was one of the operators involved in the PSL trial in Liberia mentioned above, and spent by far the most amount per pupil compared to any other operator. It spent $663 per pupil, including start-up costs, almost $400 more than the next highest spender in the trial. Although DFID does not fund Bridge in Liberia, the results from this trial and sustainability of Bridge’s work in Liberia should at the very least be taken into consideration by the Department when assessing its support for Bridge elsewhere.

104.We put these concerns to Minister Burt, who told us that in relation to low-fee schools:

There should be a debate on the specifics. Is goodquality education being provided? Is it being provided honestly and fairly, both to those who are providing it, as teachers and their salaries, and to those who are benefiting from it? It seems to me that the judgment should be made on that rather than generically ‘is this a good or a bad thing?’ Bridge seems to have slightly crossed that divide.

105.It is clear that Bridge is a contentious partner in achieving the aims of SDG4. Further information on its work in areas like Liberia would be welcome in order to assess its effectiveness. Of course, positive outcomes have been seen in the Liberia trial, with students in partnership schools scoring 0.18 standard deviations higher in English and mathematics compared to students in regular public schools, the equivalent of an extra 0.6 years of school. Teachers in PSL schools were also 20 percent more likely to be in attendance and teaching in schools during a random spot check, although the Government did assign 37 percent more teachers to PSL schools than non-PSL schools, as well as offering the first choice of better-trained, new graduates to PSL schools.Undoubtedly, there were some gains for education in PSL schools averaged across the eight operators in the trial, including Bridge. However, the Department should also take the concerns of its critics into account when providing support to the company.

106.DFID should take further steps to satisfy itself that the model of educational provision offered by Bridge International Academies offers an effective educational return on the ODA committed to it. This should include assessment of whether the model is sustainable, cost-effective and scalable but also whether it could be modified or adapted to improve outcomes when compared to other operators and other models.

90 Q54 HC639

91 Q226 HC639

93 Malala Fund (EDU0066), para. 1.2

97 Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, University of Cambridge (EDU0023)

98 UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2004 (2004), pp. 45–53. See also UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2016 (2016), p. 49

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104 See for example Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, University of Cambridge (EDU0023)

105 DFID, Girls Education Challenge: Project Profiles, accessed 25 August 2017

106 See for example Results UK (EDU0016), para. 8; Camfed International (EDU0053), para. 3.1

107 Camfed International (EDU0053)

110 Q196 HC639

114 The World Bank, Disability Inclusion (2017)

117 Q193 HC639

118 Handicap International (EDU006) para 16

119 See for example Leonard Cheshire Disability (EDU033), para 13

121 DFID, Disability Framework—One Year On (2015). See also International Development Committee, Eleventh Report of Session 2013–14, Disability and Development, HC 947

123 Leonard Cheshire Disability (EDU033), para 4

124 British Council (EDU0027) para 11.2

127 Q12 HC485

128 No Lost Generation, ‘About #NoLostGeneration’

129 Q101 HC639

131 Save the Children, UNHCR, Pearson, Promising Practices in Refugee Education: Synthesis Report (2017)

133 International Rescue Committee, ‘The IRC & Sesame Workshop: rescuing children’s futures’ (2017)

134 Malala Fund (EDU0066), para. 4.3

136 Ibid.

137 For example, see Q33 HC639, Plan International UK (EDU0004) para 18

140 Both ‘early years’ and ‘pre-primary’ are defined as the initial stage of organised instruction, designed to introduce very young children to a school-type environment. It can loosely be defined as the period of a child’s life from 3–6 years old, when a child’s brain is developing but before they are enrolled in primary education. See TheirWorld, Bright and Early: How financing pre-primary education gives every child a fair start in life (2017)

142 Latest Development Tracker figures show that DFID spends £3m of its £544m bilateral education budget on early childhood education, accessed 23 August 2017

143 For example, see: Manos Antoninis (EDU0045) para 5; Global Campaign for Education UK (EDU0009); Q188 HC639

144 UNICEF (EDU0058) p. 5

145 UNICEF (EDU0058) p. 5

148 Q249 HC639

149 Q249 HC639

150 DFID (EDU0072)

151 TheirWorld, Setting New Targets for Success (2017), p. 3

153 UNICEF (EDU0058)

156 Q177 HC639

157 DFID (EDU0054) p. 8

159 ODI (EDU0029) para 11

160 The Springfield Centre (EDU0001) para 21

163 University of Birmingham, Institute of Education, Overseas Development Institute & DFID, The role and impact of private schools in developing countries (April 2014)

168 Q231 HC639

169 Q257 HC639

170 United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26

17 November 2017