Kenya & Uganda: NGOs urge investors to stop funding Bridge International Academies due to unethical practices, including poor labour conditions; company denies allegations

A group of 88 NGOs have written a 'public letter of concern to current and prospective investors in Bridge International Academies' urging them to stop investing in the company due to alleged unethical practices including poor labour conditions. In response to the letter, Bridge International Academies has denied the allegations and said that it adheres to employment regulations in each country where it operates.

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Article
21 March 2018

Bridge International Academies full response

Author: Dr. Shannon May, Bridge International Academies

"Bridge Open Letter: Response to Global Initiative for ESCR"

We agree with the signatories of this letter on the need to improve learning for children around the world, especially those in poverty. We are pleased that they acknowledge investors support Bridge because of the need to explore new models and expand access to education. Globally, the primary level ‘out of school children’ rate has been flat since 2008, and many communities continue to be in desperate need of schools where their children can really learn...

Bridge was designed to complement the education provision of national governments. We use the local curriculum(s), local teachers and local staff. Much criticism is focused on our basic school structures, similar to many other community structures and indeed public schools, which are designed to keep costs low for parents. They are safe, sturdy and within their walls children are learning to read and write...Bridge is a strong advocate of free speech and the children in its classrooms are learning to be opinionated, confident individuals. Bridge is happy to engage in robust debate about education, SDG4, and the model of provision it offers. But, firmly believes that those debates should be based on facts and evidence and not on ideological arguments. No schools have been closed in Kenya and Bridge continues to work closely with the Ministry on all aspects of the licensing process...

Bridge takes great pride in the work that it undertakes to support and empower teachers. We know that our learning gains are the result of their hard work and commitment. Each country has different regulations and guidelines around the employment of teachers. Bridge adheres to those guidelines in each and every country. Teachers do not have to work at Bridge, they choose to work at Bridge because of the support; technological innovation and consistent paychecks. We understand that the positive and supportive relationship that Bridge has with its teachers is challenging for those that seek to protect labour and resist performance contracts...

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Article
21 March 2018

NGO letter urging investors to stop funding Bridges International Academies

Author: Africa Network Campaign for Education for All (ANCEFA) & others

“Public letter of concern to current and prospective investors in Bridge International Academies”

Dear Investor or Donor Agency, We, the undersigned group of 88 organisations, write to share with you the large body of independent evidence that raise serious concerns about the corporate practices and impact of Bridge International Academies (BIA), a commercial school company in which you are currently vested, or in which you may be considering investment.

…However, a robust and growing body of independent evidence raises serious concerns about BIA’s corporate practices and the impact of their operations, and demonstrates that the company is neither contributing to positive disruption nor to meeting the global education goals.…In particular, we would like to call your attention to a series of concerning practices and associated legal and reputational risks for investors, including lack of transparency, poor labour conditions, and non -respect of the rule of law in host countries

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