Founded on the belief that education is every child's birthright, Bridge International Academies is a global chain of private schools dedicated to making the highest quality education available to children everywhere. By developing a technology-driven approach to teaching and classroom management, Bridge delivers the same exceptional education to every child, in every classroom. Each day, Bridge reaches over 100,000 children in emerging communities across Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, and India.
My work for Bridge focused on customer experience strategy, with an emphasis on launching in Liberia.
Monique Jaques for The New York Times
As the Associate Director of Global Customer Strategy, I designed and executed ethnographic research in Liberia, in order to help Bridge and the Government of Liberia launch a public-private partnership of 25 new Bridge Academies throughout the country. I did this work in partnership with Jennifer Giroux, then a consultant at ReD Associates, and now Vice President and Head of Global Insights & Strategy at Bridge.
The initiative presented an opportunity to go beyond ensuring more children learning in classrooms. The opportunity to transform ineffective schools into schools that embody what all public schools in Liberia should (and can) become - powerful places of learning that provide parents, pupils, and teachers a stable, supportive environment they can trust, and opportunities and resources to help them reach their potential.
But change is rarely easy.
To build a powerful engagement strategy for launch, our team spent three weeks (April-May 2016) in eight different communities in Liberia. Immersed into daily life, we spent time with parents, educators, and local leaders in order to uncover meaningful insights.
This is education in Liberia: A girl is more likely to be married by 18 than to know how to read. The last two times the University of Liberia held its entrance exams, 15 students passed — out of some 38,000 who took the test. Only 59 percent of 6-to-11-year-olds are actually in school.
Tina Rosenberg, New York Times
To ensure a full understanding of our project, we explored a number of themes in our research plan.
Project Goal: What is the main value the Bridge brings to schools and communities?
Research Goal: Understand the educational needs, frustrations and aspirations of educators, parents and the community.
Project Goal: What guidelines do we use when engaging schools and communities?
Research Goal: Understand how trust is gained by new organizations and initiatives.
Project Goal: Who do we engage and what are the tools needed to do so?
Research Goal: Understand social and influencer dynamics in order to facilitate a change process.
1.) Finding Power Through Order
In a land of lawlessness, schools that have strong systems of order become a place of trust & power.
Government institutions, such as public schools, tend to be places of powerlessness – a battle all stakeholders feel like they are losing. In turn, people actively seek a gateway out of this system and into systems of order, through which they step into a more powerful world – one where they feel confident and cand start to build trust.
2.) Bring Parents Along
To build an engaged parent body, parents need to be lifted up along
Weak PTAs often mirror weak schools, while strong PTAs often mirror stronger schools. At the heart of active PTAs are confident parents that are invited to engage the school and feel encouraged when they do.
3.) Co-Create to Commit
Communities need to be invested in transformative interventions in order to find meaning, belonging & ensure longevity.
On the surface, communities can seem weak and fragmented. But looking more closely it's clear that when a community is collectively engaged, they have tremendous strength and capacity to co-create and facilitate positive change.
4.) Listen - Learn - Act
To transform perceptions & shape a positive narrative, information sharing & storytelling must drive communities to act.
Word of mouth is important, but when communities are presented with a framework for action, they are able to make sense of an initiative or change and develop a stronger sense of agency and ownership in the process.
Monique Jaques for The New York Times
The result of our research process unconvered a new value proposition & insights that build the foundation of our engagement strategy in Liberia.
PRESS & PRAISE
The new Bridge schools in Liberia have had promising results. The Ministry of Education recently gave Bridge an 'A' rating on the basis of 'significant quality of implementation' and agreed to open 43 additional schools in the second year of the pilot, for a total of 68 Bridge schools operating in Liberia.
Liberia, Desperate to Educate, Turns to Charter Schools, New York Times
Our Liberia engagement strategy layers on the global CX strategy & principles we developed.