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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.


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Media contacts:

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

Press release on behalf of:

· ActionAid InternationalInternational
· ActionAid LiberiaLiberia
· Aide et ActionFrance
· All for Education!’ National Civil Society CoalitionMongolia
· Alliance of Government Workers in the Water SectorPhilippines
· American Federation of TeachersUnited States of America
· Africa Network Campaign on Education For All (ANCEFA)International
· AntarcticDemocratic Republic of the Congo
· Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education    (ASPBAE)International
· Asociación Latinoamericana de Educación y Comunicación PopularInternational
· 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 EducationBrazil
· Bretton Woods ProjectInternational
· Cameroon Education For All NetworkCameroun
· 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 EducaciónPeru
· Center of African Studies of the University of PortoInternational
· CEPO/KASAI CENTRALDemocratic Republic of the Congo
· CEPO-ONGDemocratic Republic of the Congo
· Child Rights International Network (CRIN)International
· Cipe ConsultoresHonduras
· Civil society Action Coaltion on Education for All (CSACEFA)Nigeria
· Coalicion Colombiana por el Derecho a la EducacionColombia
· Coalition des Organisations Mauritaniennes pour L’éducation (COMEDUC)Mauritania
· Coalition ÉducationFrance
· Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE)Liberia
· Construisons Ensemble le MondeDemocratic Republic of the Congo
· Corner HouseUnited Kingdom
· CSC-EnseignementBelgium
· DCI-TunisiaTunisia
· Defence for Children international – GhanaGhana
· Défense des Enfants International – BelgiqueBelgium
· Economic & Social Rights Centre-HakijamiiKenya
· Equal EducationSouth Africa
· Equal Education Law CentreSouth Africa
· FECASECameroun
· Fédération Générale de L’enseignement de Base (FGEB)Tunisia
· FERGET ASBLDemocratic Republic of the Congo
· FicemeaInternational
· Foundation For Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD-NIGERIA)Nigeria
· FP CGILItaly
· Fundación Manatí para el Fomento de la Ciudadanía A.C.Mexico
· Ghana National Education Campaign CoalitionGhana
· Global Campaign for EducationInternational
· Global Campaign for Education-USUnited States
· Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR)International
· Global Justice NowUnited Kingdom
· Global Peace and Development OrganizationLiberia
· Human DignityInternational
· 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 CentreInternational
· Les Anges du CielDemocratic Republic of the Congo
· Mouvement Anfass DémocratiqueMorocco
· National Campaign For Education NepalNepal
· National Coalition for Education (NCE)India
· National Network for Education Reform (NNER)Myanmar
· Natural Resources Alliance of Kenya (KeNRA)Kenya
· Network for Public EducationUnited States
· Northern Territories Federation of LabourCanada
· OBESSU – Organising Bureau of European Schools Student UnionsInternational
· Organisation Démocratique du TravailMorocco
· Pakistan Coalition for EducationPakistan
· Program on Human Rights and the Global EconomyUnited States of America
· Programa de Comunicación y Educación (CEA-FCS-UNC)Argentina
· Public Services InternationalInternational
· Red de Educación Popular entre Mujeres de América Latina y el Caribe RepemInternational
· Rede Lusófona pelo Direito à Educação (ReLus) – The Lusophone Network for the Right to EducationInternational
· Réseau Ivoirien Pour La Promotion De L’education Pour TousCôte d’Ivoire
· RESULTSInternational
· Right to Education ForumIndia
· Right to Education InitiativeInternational
· SikshasandhanIndia
· SNENNiger
· Society for International Development (SID)International
· Solidarité LaïqueFrance
· Spanish Coalition Global Campaign for EducationSpain
· 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 NigerNiger
· The East African Centre for Human Rights (EACHRights)Kenya
· UNISON – The Public Service UnionUnited Kingdom

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Melbourne, Australia
(Sat - Thursday)
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