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MINISTERS must stop funding failing private schools in Africa, anti-poverty campaigners told International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt today.
Writing on behalf of civil society groups in Kenya, Uganda and Liberia, Global Justice Now said the bankrolling of private chain Bridge International Academies exposed the fundamental flaws in the Tories’ approach to international aid.
Bridge has received more than £20 million in direct and indirect funding from Britain, cash that campaigners say should be used for free, quality education for the world’s poorest children.
But during her brief jig through South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria last week, Prime Minister Theresa May promised greater private-sector involvement in aid spending, mainly to benefit British business.
Global Justice Now warns that Bridge’s 500 schools in India, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Uganda have been criticised for their poor teaching methods, such as the use of scripted lessons read out by unqualified teachers from electronic tablets.
The letter recounts a series of failings by Bridge documented by observers and governments since 2015, including independent research showing Bridge’s fees and practices exclude the poor and marginalised.
It cites failure to meet minimum educational standards, poor working conditions, concerns about freedom of expression and lack of transparency and an absence of valid evidence of Bridge’s positive impact as reasons to hold back the cash.
Global Justice Now aid campaigner Ed Lewis said: “The Prime Minister’s dance moves last week looked like they’d been taught at a Bridge Academies School. Rigid, inflexible and poor quality, these private schools are an embarrassment.
“How on Earth did we get to a point where our aid spending has funded schools which two African countries are trying to shut down, and which have been criticised by UN human rights bodies?
“If this is what private-sector involvement in aid means, the Prime Minister is dancing with disaster.
“The UK needs to use aid money to support free, quality, public and universal education and healthcare around the world.”
The letter is supported by civil society groups in Kenya, Uganda and Liberia, including the Right to Education Initiative, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, East African Centre for Human Rights (Kenya), Initiative for Social & Economic Rights (Uganda) and Coalition for Transparency & Accountability in Education (Liberia).
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