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Right to education: 88 organisations urge investors to cease support for Bridge International Academies

Kampala, Monrovia, Nairobi, 1st March 2018.

In an open letter published today, Human Dignity and 87 civil society organisations have urged investors to cease their support for the multi-national for-profit chain of private schools Bridge International Academies (BIA), which runs over 500 schools in Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Uganda, and India.

Our organisations are calling investors’ attention to a series of concerning practices by BIA and the associated legal and reputational risks they incur. These practices include lack of transparency, poor labour conditions, and non-respect of the rule of law in host countries. Investors in BIA range from well-known private investors such as the Omidyar Network, the Zuckerberg Education Ventures, and Bill Gates to public State agencies from the USA, the United Kingdom, France, Norway, the Netherlands, and the European Union.

According to the letter, BIA has been acting in defiance of the law and has a negative impact on the right to education of thousands of children in countries of Africa and other regions. 

The recent decision of the Ugandan Minister of Education, in February 2018, to close Bridge Schools in the country for failing to meet minimum educational as well as health and safety standards, following an 18-months negotiation with the company, illustrates BIA’s disregard for national laws.

According to Salima Namusobya, of the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights in Uganda: “The Government of Uganda has been negotiating with Bridge International Academies and giving them time to comply with the law. But Bridge has failed to meet basic standards and deliver on their promises, and the Government is currently closing illegal schools. Yet, the company is still supported by investors abroad that would never accept such a situation in their own country. Investors will be complicit in this disaster if they do not remove their support.” 

Other concerns that have been documented by various independent sources include higher costs than those advertised by the company, failure to register schools, use of unapproved curriculum, failure to meet teacher certification requirements, and discriminatory impacts.

Public institutions, such as the United Nations, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee, have also expressed specific concerns about BIA regarding the quality of education, relationship with governments, lack of compliance with government regulations, and high cost of fees.

“Bridge Academies came to our country last year, with the promise to improve quality as part of a government program. But they have only managed to marginally improve outcomes, at an astronomical cost, by pushing out teachers and mass-expelling children. We trust that this new call and the further evidence provided will trigger investors´ actions in line with their due diligence obligations to stop supporting Bridge’s operations,” said Anderson Miamen, from the Liberian Coalition on Transparency and Accountability in Education

The signatory organisations are calling on investors to exit in the shortest possible time from their investment in BIA, including investments via intermediaries, and to fully discharge their legal due diligence obligations and responsibilities by making no further financing commitments to BIA.

Private investors do have a role to play in improving education infrastructure and services. However, this does not mean that they can violate our laws and standards and treat their teachers or parents in an undignified and disrespectful manner. This would never be allowed in the West, why should we allow it here? Foreign investors who add value to our country and our people are welcome, but those that support illegal companies that undermine the right to education are not.” reacted Linda Oduor-Noah, from the Kenyan-based organisation East African Centre for Human Rights.

This letter comes seven months after an open Call to investors of 1st August 2017 calling on investors to cease support to BIA.

 

For more information:

Media contacts:

To be put in touch with other organisations, please contact Ivahanna Larrosa at pehrc.coordinator@gmail.com

 

Press release on behalf of:

 

   Organisation

Region

·       ActionAid International

International

·       ActionAid Liberia

Liberia

·       Aide et Action

France

·       All for Education!' National Civil Society Coalition

Mongolia

·       Alliance of Government Workers in the Water Sector

Philippines

·       American Federation of Teachers

United States of America

·       Africa Network Campaign on Education For All (ANCEFA)

International

·       Antarctic

Democratic Republic of the Congo

·       Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE)

International

·       Asociación Latinoamericana de Educación y Comunicación Popular

International

·       Association Camerounaise pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme des Libertés et du Bien être (ACADEHLIB)

International

·       Association Française Pour un Enseignement Ambitieux et Humaniste (AFPEAH)

France

·       Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education

Brazil

·       Bretton Woods Project

International

·       Cameroon Education For All Network

Cameroun

·       Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE)

Bangladesh

·       Campaña Argentina por el Derecho a la Educación (CADE)

Argentina

·       Campaña Latinoamericana por el Derecho a la Educación (CLADE)

International

·       Campaña Peruana por el Derecho a la Educación

Peru

·       Center of African Studies of the University of Porto

International

·       CEPO/KASAI CENTRAL

Democratic Republic of the Congo

·       CEPO-ONG

Democratic Republic of the Congo

·       Child Rights International Network (CRIN)

International

·       Cipe Consultores

Honduras

·       Civil society Action Coaltion on Education for All (CSACEFA)

Nigeria

·       Coalicion Colombiana por el Derecho a la Educacion

Colombia

·       Coalition des Organisations Mauritaniennes pour L'éducation (COMEDUC)

Mauritania

·       Coalition Éducation

France

·       Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE)

Liberia

·       Construisons Ensemble le Monde

Democratic Republic of the Congo

·       Corner House

United Kingdom

·       CSC-Enseignement

Belgium

·       DCI-Tunisia

Tunisia

·       Defence for Children international - Ghana

Ghana

·       Défense des Enfants International - Belgique

Belgium

·       Economic & Social Rights Centre-Hakijamii

Kenya

·       Equal Education

South Africa

·       Equal Education Law Centre

South Africa

·       FECASE

Cameroun

·       Fédération Générale de L'enseignement de Base (FGEB)

Tunisia

·       FERGET ASBL

Democratic Republic of the Congo

·       Ficemea

International

·       Foundation For Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD-NIGERIA)

Nigeria

·       FP CGIL

Italy

·       Fundación Manatí para el Fomento de la Ciudadanía A.C.

Mexico

·       Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition

Ghana

·       Global Campaign for Education

International

·       Global Campaign for Education-US

United States

·       Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR)

International

·       Global Justice Now

United Kingdom

·       Global Peace and Development Organization

Liberia

·       Human Dignity

International

·       Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER)

Uganda

·       Jeunes et Femmes pour les Droits De l'Homme et la Paix (J.F.D.HO.P)

International

·       Jeunesse et Emplois Verts pour une Economie Verte (ONG JEVEV)

Benin

·       Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre

International

·       Les Anges du Ciel

Democratic Republic of the Congo

·       Mouvement Anfass Démocratique

Morocco

·       National Campaign For Education Nepal

Nepal

·       National Coalition for Education (NCE)

India

·       National Network for Education Reform (NNER)

Myanmar

·       Natural Resources Alliance of Kenya (KeNRA)

Kenya

·       Network for Public Education

United States

·       Northern Territories Federation of Labour

Canada

·       OBESSU - Organising Bureau of European Schools Student Unions

International

·       Organisation Démocratique du Travail

Morocco

·       Pakistan Coalition for Education

Pakistan

·       Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy

United States of America

·       Programa de Comunicación y Educación (CEA-FCS-UNC)

Argentina

·       Public Services International

International

·       Red de Educación Popular entre Mujeres de América Latina y el Caribe Repem

International

·       Rede Lusófona pelo Direito à Educação (ReLus) - The Lusophone Network for the Right to Education

International

·       RESDEN

Niger

·       Réseau Ivoirien Pour La Promotion De L'education Pour Tous

Côte d’Ivoire

·       RESULTS

International

·       Right to Education Forum

India

·       Right to Education Initiative

International

·       Sikshasandhan

India

·       SNEN

Niger

·       Society for International Development (SID)

International

·       Solidarité Laïque

France

·       Spanish Coalition Global Campaign for Education

Spain

·       Syndicat National Autonome de l'Enseignement Secondaire (SNAES)

Cameroon

·       Syndicat National de L'enseignement Secondaire (SNES)

Mauritania

·       Syndicat National des Agents de la Formation et de l’Education du Niger

Niger

·       The East African Centre for Human Rights (EACHRights)

Kenya

·       UNISON - The Public Service Union

United Kingdom