Low-fee private schools are a hot topic in educational research. What happens when public schooling is provided by for-profit companies that charge families monthly user fees? What happens when those companies receive government funds? Researchers around the world have been exploring various issues around for-profit public schooling.
One company has been of particular interest. Bridge International Academies operates schools in Africa and Asia and is supported by people such as Bill Gates and Mark Zukerburg. Bridge International uses a standard curriculum that is read off of a tablet computer. This low-cost model of schooling relies on paying small wages to instructors, who simply read the curriculum, and fees paid by students to attend (or government subsidies). I can be extremely profitable when delivered to scale. In the most extreme case, in Liberia, the Ministry of education is trying to outsource its entire primary education system to Bridge International.
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