Open letter – 88 organisations urge investors to cease support for Bridge International Academies

Kampala, Monrovia, Nairobi, 1st March 2018. In an open letter published today, 88 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.

These 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:

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

Categories Press Releases, Right to education | Tags: | Posted on March 1, 2018

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