Peg Tyre: Can a High-Tech Start-Up in Africa Educate Hundreds of Millions of Children and Make a Profit?

Peg Tyre, veteran journalist, published a balanced and well-written article about Bridge International Academies in the New York Times Magazine. BIA operates numerous low-fee, for-profit schools in Africa and  its investors hope to spread its brand across the world.

Investors in Bridge include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Pearson, and other familiar names.

The founders had no education experience but they had experience creating successful tech start-ups. They wanted to disrupt education in the manner of Uber and AirBNB, the leaders of the new tech-based economy. They raised $100 million. Their schools cost parents a few dollars a month. Teachers deliver scripted lessons, written in the U.S. and delivered daily to them on an iPad. BIA opens its schools in poor countries where the quality of public education is low. They hope to do good while doing well.

Critics, including me, see BIA as a way that these countries slough off their responsility to provide education by outsourcing it. Critics see it as neocolonialism. Huge numbers of families can’t afford to pay the low fees. Kids are kept out of school when their parents don’t pay.

BIA was supposed to generate huge revenues. However, it is losing $1 million a month.

That is the only metric that counts. If they don’t turn a profit, they will close shop and move on.

from novemoore


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