Action taken over “for-profit” African schools
In the wake of recent controversy and the wrongful arrest of an EI researcher, the Ugandan government has announced the closure of all Bridge International Academies (BIA) schools in the country.
Education International reported that the country’s education minister, Janet K. Museveni, has taken action to close the 80 pre-primary and primary schools run by BIA in Uganda until further notice after its failure to meet educational and infrastructure standards.
The Ugandan Radio Network, stated the breaches include “flouting minimum operating standards, using unqualified teachers and teaching a syllabus that does not conform to national and international standards”.
The closures come months after BIA was condemned by education unions worldwide after it placed a wanted ad leading to the arrest of an EI researcher.
The researcher, working on behalf of EI, was studying the impact for students and educators of the “low-fee” for-profit schools BIA operates in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.
EI reports that despite the government order, BIA claims it is “business as usual”.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Paul Giles said the government decision was a positive step forward for students in Uganda whose education has been commercialised for-profit.
“EI as the peak body of education unions internationally has continued to ask much needed questions of such 'for-profit' educational institutions whose lack of transparency should be of great concerns to educators and parents alike.
According to EI, the BIA business model “depends on public money to operate fee charging schools run by unqualified teachers” and while it purports to provide “affordable education to some of the world’s poorest children, [BIA] forces families to pay for inadequate scripted lessons read from tablets”.
Mr Giles said the commercialisation of schools and resources, especially in developing countries, was an increasing trend.
“The global threat from ‘edu-businesses’ multi-national companies, such as Pearson, is of great concern and our members, alongside our international counterparts, will continue to campaign to protect quality education for all students,” Mr Giles said.