CIVIL SOCIETY CALL ON INVESTORS TO CEASE SUPPORT TO BRIDGE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIES

CIVIL SOCIETY CALL ON INVESTORS TO CEASE SUPPORT TO BRIDGE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

174 organisations worldwide call investors to cease support to American chain of schools Bridge International Academies

(Nairobi, Kampala, Monrovia, Johannesburg, 1st August 2017) 174 civil society organisations from around the world have today released a statement calling on investors to cease support for Bridge International Academies, a company running over 500 commercial private schools in the Global South with the support of international donors and investors.

This statement comes two years after a similar one that was addressed to the World Bank. It has been signed by a broad range of organisations from 50 different countries, including human rights, development, community-based, and faith-based organisations, as well as trade unions, demonstrating increasing, broad-based, and large-scale concerns regarding the operations of Bridge Academies.

The statement lists mounting concurring evidence and analysis published in the last two years, including independent journalist inquiries, that raise grave concerns regarding Bridge’s transparency, relationship with governments, labour conditions, and breach of educational standards. It highlights the cases of Uganda and Kenya where Bridge has operated schools illegally and failed until now to adhere to national education standards. In both countries Bridge schools have been ordered to close schools the authorities.

‘The quality of Bridge schools has not been independently assessed. In any case, any claimed gains in learning outcomes could never justify the shocking practices that have been documented in this statement. What can justify for instance the treatment of unlicensed, unregistered teachers being denied a living wage while working over 60 hours work per week?’ reacted Linda Oduor-Noah, from the East African Centre for Human Rights, in Kenya.

The statement outlines how Bridge fails to reach the most disadvantaged it claims to serve due to high costs, as well as negative impacts on families who were accessing the schools. One study found that between 69 and 83 per cent of Bridge parents had difficulty in paying rent, providing food or accessing healthcare due to high school fees.

Rather than the 6 USD per month as claimed by the company, the total costs to attend a Bridge school are closer to 20 USD per month. Not only are such costs unreachable by a large part of the population of our countries where Bridge operates, but their announced fee is misleading’, said Salima Namusobya, from the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights, in Uganda.

The document also underscores Bridge’s resistance to public scrutiny and attempts to limit transparency, building on the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee’s recent letter to the Secretary of State, which also raised this issue.

We’ve seen how in Liberia, Bridge, which is part of a public-private partnership arrangement with the State, has operated in total secrecy, challenging public procurement rules and undermining independent assessment of its operation by civil society. This confirms the trend in other countries, where Bridge has been involved in the arrest of independent teachers, the silencing of unions, resistance to assessment, and more. This is a global education company shrouded in secrecy and hiding, and this is extremely worrying’, added Anderson Miamen, from the Liberia Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education.

The organisations signing the statement are therefore calling on investors and donors to fully discharge due diligence obligations and cease support for Bridge. The organisations cite a number of other recommendations in the statement on compliance with national laws and standards, transparency, accountability, treatment of civil society and redirection of funds to programs that promote equity in education.

‘It is important to recognise that most investors are genuinely seeking to make a difference in the lives of children living in poverty. We share these concerns and recognise the need for major improvements in education. However, there is now significant evidence that investing in Bridge is not an effective way to improve access, equity and quality in education which should be the aim of any education initiative targeting the most disadvantaged. We would welcome an opportunity to explore alternatives with donors and investors, to identify more effective ways to invest sustainably in providing quality education for all children living in poverty;’ concluded Chikezie Anyanwu, from the Global Campaign for Education.

This latest statement follows repeatedly raised concerns about the fast-paced and unregulated growth of certain private education providers, in particular commercial ones, such as Bridge. In May 2015, 116 organisations had published a statement raising concerns about misleading facts regarding the costs and quality of Bridge schools. Since then, evidence from various sources and presented in the statement, including the UN, a UK parliamentary report, independent research reports, and independent media reports, have confirmed those concerns and raised the alarm about the serious gap between the promises of Bridge and the reality of their practice.

END

NOTES TO EDITOR

Contacts

  • Salima Namusobya, Executive Director, Initiative for Economic and Social Rights (ISER), Uganda: snamusobya@gmail.com / +256 414581041
  • Anderson Miamen, National Coordinator, Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE), Liberia: admiamen2@gmail.com / +231 776 391 481
  • Linda Oduor-Noah, Project Manager, East African Centre for Human Rights (EACHRights), Kenya: oduornoah@gmail.com / +254701670090
  • Chikezie Anyanwu, Global Co-ordinator, Global Campaign for Education: chikezie@campaignforeducation.org / +27 11 447 4111

 

List of signatories

Organisation Country
1.       Action Contre la Pauvreté (ACP) Burundi
2.       Action Jeunesse et Environnement (AJE) international
3.       ActionAid International International
4.       ActionAid International South Africa
5.       ActionAid Liberia Liberia
6.       ActionAid Uganda Uganda
7.       Africa Network Campaign on Education For All (ANCEFA) International
8.       Aide et Action International
9.       AKS Austria
10.    Amnesty International International
11.    Amnesty International Kenya Kenya
12.    Amnesty International Sénégal Senegal
13.    Antarctic Democratic Republic of Congo
14.    Appel pour une école démocratique (Aped) Belgium
15.    Ashroy Foundation Bangladesh
16.    ASO EPT Niger Niger
17.    Associação Nacional de Pesquisadores em Financiamento da Educação (Fineduca) Brazil
18.    Association AMONTANA Madagascar
19.    Association Camerounaise Pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme des Libertés et du bien être (ACADEHLIB) Cameroon
20.    Association d’Aide et de Protection des Personnes vulnerables Democratic Republic of Congo
21.    Association des Amis du Belvédère Tunisia
22.    Association des Personnes Handicapées Motivées de Tône (APHMOTO) Togo
23.    Association femmes pour l’ egalité et la démocratie Morocco
24.    Association Française Pour un Enseignement Ambitieux et Humaniste (AFPEAH) France
25.    Association graine de paix Algeria
26.    Association Initiative Urbaine Morocco
27.    Association Rechida pour l”environnementet développement Morocco
28.    Association Tunisienne des Jeunes et Développement Tunisia
29.    Ayuda en Acción International
30.    Both ENDS International
31.    Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education Brazil
32.    Bretton Woods Project United Kingdom
33.    Cameroon Education For All Network Cameroon
34.    Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) Bangladesh
35.    Campaña Argentina por el Derecho a la Educación (CADE) Argentina
36.    Campaña Latinoamericana por el Derecho a la Educación (CLADE) International
37.    Campaña Peruana por el Derecho a la Educación (CPDE) Peru
38.    Campanha Brasileira pelo Direito à Educação Brazil
39.    Carrefour de la famille marocaine Morocco
40.    CEMEA Sénégal Senegal
41.    Centre d’Actions pour la Sécurité Alimentaire et le Développement Durable (CASAD-Bénin) Benin
42.    Centre d’Encadrement des personnes opprimées Democratic Republic of Congo
43.    Centre for Education Rights and Transformation South Africa
44.    Centre for Equity and Quality in Universal Education India
45.    Centres d’Entrainement aux Méthodes d’Education Active (CEMEA) France
46.    Centro de Defesa da Criança e do Adolescente (CEDECA/Ceará) Brazil
47.    Centro de Estudos Educação e Sociedade (CEDES – Unicamp) Brazil
48.    Centro de Investigación, Planeación y Evaluación (CIPE Consultores) Honduras
49.    Child Rights International Network (CRIN) International
50.    Civil Society Action on Education for All (CSACEFA) Nigeria
51.    Civil Society and Trade Union Institutions of Liberia (CTIL) Liberia
52.    Coalición Española de la Campaña Mundial por la Educación Spain
53.    Coalition des organisations en synergie pour la défense de l’éducation publique (COSYDEP) Senegal
54.    Coalition des organisations mauritaniennes pour l’éducation (COMEDUC) Mauritania
55.    Coalition Education France
56.    Coalition Education Pour Tous BAFASHEBIGE Burundi
57.    Coalition for Educational Developpment Sri Lanka
58.    Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education Liberia
59.    Coalition Nationale de l’Education Pour Tous en République Démocratique du Congo (CONEPT RDC) Democratic Republic of Congo
60.    Coalition nationale de Madagascar pour l’éducation accessible et inclusive (CONAMEPT) Madagascar
61.    Coalition Nationale pour l’Education Pour Tous – Burkina Faso (CN-EPT/BURKINA) Burkina Faso
62.    Comité National de Développement des Réseaux pour l’Education en Afrique de l’Ouest (CNDREAO) Senegal
63.    Comité Syndical Francophone de l’Education et de la Formation (CSFEF) International
64.    Construisons Ensemble le Monde Democratic Republic of Congo
65.    Corner House United Kingdom
66.    Counter Balance Belgium
67.    CSC-Enseignement Belgium
68.    Défense des enfants International Belgique International
69.    DEL PEP 21 France
70.    East African Centre for Human Rights (EACHRights) Kenya
71.    Economic & Social Rights Centre (Hakijamii) Kenya
72.    Edugestion Cameroun Cameroon
73.    Environnement et Progrès ASBL Belgium
74.    Equal Education Law Centre South Africa
75.    Fédération Camerounaise des Syndicats de l’Education (FECASE) Cameroon
76.    Femmes unies pour le développement Democratic Republic of Congo
77.    Fonds voor OntwikkelingsSamenwerking (FOS) International
78.    Foro Dakar Honduras Honduras
79.    Foro por el Derecho a la Educación de Chile Chile
80.    Foundation For Environmental Rights,Advocacy & Development FENRAD-NIGERIA Nigeria
81.    Franciscans International International
82.    Fundación Manatí para el Fomento de Ciudadanía A.C. Mexico
83.    Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition Ghana
84.    Global Campaign for Education International
85.    Global Campaign for Education – US United States
86.    Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) International
87.    Global Justice Now United Kingdom
88.    Global Peace and Development Organization Liberia
89.    Government Teachers’ Union île Maurice
90.    Grupo de Estudio Sobre Educación en Cárceles (GESEC) Argentina
91.    Grupo de Estudos e Pesquisas em Política Educacional (GREPPE) Brazil
92.    Homabay county education network Kenya
93.    Homabay county paralegal Kenya
94.    Human Dignity International
95.    Idealoga, Intervención Comunitaria S.Coop.Mad Spain
96.    Incidencia Civil en Educación (ICE) Mexico
97.    Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) Uganda
98.    Initiative For Women  Empowerement & Development(IWED) Nigeria
99.    International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) International
100.Jeunes et Femmes pour les droits de l’homme et la paix (J.F.D.HO.P). Democratic Republic of Congo
101.Jeunesse et Emplois Verts pour une Economie Verte (ONG JEVEV) Bénin
102.Just Fair United Kingdom
103.Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Kenya
104.Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Kenya
105.Kisora Kenya
106.Kisumu county education network Kenya
107.Labour,Health and Human Rights Development Centre Nigeria
108.Les Anges Du Ciel Democratic Republic of Congo
109.Ligue des Droits de l’Enfant Belgium
110.Lumiere Synergie pour le Développement Senegal
111.Mathare Association Kenya
112.Migori county education network Kenya
113.Mouvement Anfass Démocratique Morocco
114.Mouvement politique des objecteurs de croissance Belgium
115.Movimento de Educação para Todos (MEPT – Moçambique) Mozambique
116.Nadi Ghati Morcha India
117.Nadi Ghati Morcha India
118.National Campaign for Education Nepal Nepal
119.National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) Liberia
120.Natural Resources Alliance of Kenya Kenya
121.Nepal National Teachers Association Nepal
122.Network for Public Education United States
123.Network for Public Education USA
124.NGO Education Partnership Cambodia
125.Organisation Democratique du Travail Morocco
126.Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) International
127.Oxford Human Rights Hub United Kingdom
128.Pakistan Coalition for Education Pakistan
129.Planète Urgence International
130.PNG Education Advocacy Network (PEAN) Papua New Guinea
131.Prayatn Sanstha India
132.Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy United States
133.Public Services International International
134.Red de Educación Popular Entre Mujeres de Latinoamérica y el Caribe (REPEM) Latin America and Caribbean
135.Rede Angolana da Sociedade Civil de Educação para Todos (Rede EPT-Angola) Angola
136.Rede da Campanha de Educação para Todos – Guiné-Bissau (RECEPT-GB) Guiné-Bissau
137.Rede Nacional da Campanha de Educação para Todos de São Tomé e Príncipe (RNEPT-STP) São Tomé and Príncipe
138.ReLus – Lusophone Network for the Right to Education International
139.Rencontre pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme (RPDH) Republic of Congo
140.Réseau des Acteurs de Développement de l’Education au Bénin (ONG RADEB) Benin
141.Réseau des Organisations pour le Développement de l’Education au Burkina (RODEB) Burkina Faso
142.Réseau Ivoirien Pour la Promotion de l’Education Pour tous Cote d’Ivoire
143.Réseau Marocain pour la Defense du Droit à la Santé – Droit à la vie Morocco
144.Réseau Pour le Développement de l’Education au Niger (RESDEN) Niger
145.Réseau progrès et développement humanitaire du Niger (ONG REPRODEVH NIGER) Niger
146.RESULTS Education Fund International
147.Right to Education Forum (India) India
148.Right to Education Forum Jharkhand India
149.Right to Education Initiative International
150.Shala Mitra sangh India
151.Siaya county education network Kenya
152.Sikshasandhan India
153.Society for International Development (SID) International
154.Society for People’s Awareness (SPAN) India
155.Solidarité Laïque France  (international )
156.SOLIDARITE-UNAFETPCI (Union Nationale des Formateurs de l’Enseignement Technique et Professionnel de Côte d’Ivoire) Côte d’Ivoire
157.Star of the lake CBO Kenya
158.StopTFF France
159.Sudanese Coalition for Education for All Sudan
160.Sustaining Continuity in Education Foundation Nigeria
161.Syndicat des Enseignants Romands Switzerland
162.Syndicat des Travailleurs des Etablissements Privés du Cameroun (SYNTESPRIC) Cameroon
163.Syndicat général de l’éducation nationale – Fédération (Sgen-CFDT) France
164.Syndicat général de l’enseignement de base (SGEB) Tunisia
165.Syndicat National Autonome de l’Enseignement Secondaire Cameroon
166.Syndicat national de l’enseignement supérieur Fédération syndicale unitaire (SNESUP-FSU) France
167.Syndicat National des Agents de la Formation et de l’Education du Niger (SYNAFEN -NIGER) Niger
168.Syndicat National des Formateurs de l’Enseignement Technique et de la Formation Progessionnelle (SYNAFETP-CI) Côte d’Ivoire
169.The Kairos Center for Relgions, Rights and Social Justice United States
170.Union Nationale des Normaliens/Normaliennes et Educateurs/Educatrices d’Haïti (UNNOEH) Haiti
171.UNISON United Kingdom
172.Unnati Institute for Social and Educational Change India
173.Yemeni Coalition for Education for All Yemen
174.Youth Progressive Association in Taraba Nigeria