Right to Education Initiative, together with civil society groups in Kenya, Uganda, and Liberia, supported a letter sent by Global Justice Now to UK's International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt to halt funding for Bridge International Academies. Bridge runs over 500 private schools in India, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Uganda which have been criticised for their poor teaching methods including the use of invariable, scripted lessons to be read out from tablets.
Anti-poverty campaigners have said the UK’s continued funding of a controversial chain of private schools in Africa is a sign of the fundamental flaws in its new approach to international aid. It comes a week after the Prime Minister signalled a major shift in that strategy during a trade delegation to South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, based around greater private sector involvement in UK aid spending. The UK has funded BIA with over £20 million in direct and indirect funding.
The letter is supported by Global Initiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights; East African Centre for Human Rights; Initiative for Social and Economic Rights; and Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education, as well as the National Education Union in the UK,
The letter recounts a series of failings by Bridge documented by several NGOs, including Right to Education Initiative, independent observers and media reports, as well as by governments since 2015, which include:
- Independent research showing BIA’s fees and practices exclude the poor and marginalised
- Repeatedly failing to respect the rule of law, including minimum education standards, over several years
- Poor labour conditions
- Reported concerns about freedom expression and lack of transparency
- Absence of valid evidence of Bridge’s positive impact
- Negative impacts on education quality, equity and social segregation and stratification
For more information on privatisation of education and RTE's advocacy work regarding Bridge, please visit our thematic page here.
Photo: Theresa May visit to Kenya, August 2018. Credit: Number 10