For-profit provider’s “wanted” ad leads to arrest of EI researcher in Uganda
In a shocking case involving an overseas for-profit education provider, a Canadian researcher working for Education International (EI) was arrested in Uganda but later released following placement of a “wanted ad” by the provider as a result of his research.
Curtis Riep, a PhD student at the University of Alberta, was in the country researching the impact for students and educators of a chain of ‘low-fee’ for-profit schools operated by Bridge International Academies in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.
According to EI, Mr Riep was arrested after arriving at a meeting at one of the provider’s schools in Uganda, having been accused of “impersonating one of its [Bridge International Academies] employees.
EI also noted the arrest came as “Ugandan authorities had put a halt to the expansion of Bridge activities due to its failure to meet regulatory requirements applicable to schools”.
While the allegation was subsequently proven as false and Mr Riep has returned safely home, the case highlights lengths for-profit providers will go to in order to avoid scrutiny of the conditions for those working and studying in their schools.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Paul Giles said the arrest of Mr Riep and false allegation made by Bridge International Academies had been strongly condemned by IEUA-QNT members across the country.
“Our IEU Federal Office has also sent a letter of support to Mr Riep and EI for its investigation into the practices of for-profit education providers – especially those working in developing countries such as Africa – and especially given the Liberian government recently announced it would outsource its primary schools to the provider in question,” Mr Giles said.
“This case also highlights the lack of transparency that exists within the for-profit education sector, which is a great concern to members given the increasing trend towards the commercialisation of education globally.
“The global threat of ‘edu-business’ is infiltrating the Australian school system with multi-national companies, such as Pearson, contributing to the increased commercialisation of schools and resources.
“Meanwhile, the current Federal Government, under former Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, has further reinforced the rise of edu-business through its exclusion of teacher unions and their representation on the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s (AITSL) board and its committees.
“Retaining the voice of the profession within such bodies it vital when it comes to protecting education in Australia,” Mr Giles said.