5 March 2020

13 organisations alert on the ‘violation of France's obligations vis-à-vis the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights through its investment in Bridge International Academies (BIA)’ in a submission to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).

‘Faced with evidence demonstrating the negative impact of BIA operations on human rights, France has not taken any measures to remedy the situation’ says the report.

The organisations explain having repeatedly reported the negative impacts of BIA's activities on human rights to the French government by various means: public call, letter, meetings, etc. Despite all this, France continued to affirm its support for BIA ‘France's uninterrupted support potentially constitutes a violation of its obligations to respect, protect and implement its commitments to the ICESCR’, according to the report.

The organisations add that France has funded a school that has demonstrated its ability to compete and undermine public education in many cases, sometimes even against the will of local authorities.

Organisations are denouncing human rights violation

Continued funding of a private school that is incompatible with human rights, and the lack of evaluation and review suggests that France has failed to meet its human rights obligations.

Human rights require donor States to prioritise support for the recipient State to meet its basic obligations to provide free, quality education accessible to all, especially for vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalised groups. Likewise, human rights entrust States with the responsibility of ensuring impact assessments of any public funding of private schools and taking all reasonable measures to ensure that the organisations concerned respect the human rights obligations of this State.

France must ‘withdraw as soon as possible from its investments in Bridge International Academies […] and fully comply with its legal obligations and responsibilities’ in matters of human rights, concludes the report. It must ‘put in place effective mechanisms [...] for development aid in order to prevent the recurrence of investments with similar negative impacts’ and ‘to promote support for public education and respect for the right to education, in accordance with the Abidjan Principles’.

Signatory Civil Society Organisations

Organisations of countries affected by Bridge International Academies:

  • Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE,) Liberia

  • East African Centre for Human Rights (Each Rights), Kenya

  • Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), Uganda

  • Oxfam India

  • Right to Education Forum (RTE Forum), India

French and International Civil Society

  • French and International Civil Society

  • French Education (Coalition Education), France

  • FICEMEA, France

  • Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International

  • Oxfam France

  • Partage avec les enfants du monde, France

  • Initiative for the right to education, International

  • Sgen Cfdt, France

  • Solidarité Laïque, France

Contacts

  • Sylvain Aubry (FR/EN), Legal and research advisor, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, sylvain@gi-escr.org 
  • Delphine Dorsi (FR/EN), Executive Director, Right to Education Initiative, delphine.dorsi@right-to-education.org
  • Léa Rambaud (FR), Executive Director, Coalition Education, lrambaud@coalition-education.fr