24 January 2017
Today global education unions and civil societies are protesting at the Education World Forum (EWF) – an annual gathering of education and skills ministers from around the world. This is to raise awareness of the increasing privatisation of state education across the globe.
Time: Tuesday 24 January 2017, 11.45am onwards.
Assembly: outside Park Plaza Hotel - 200 Westminster Bridge Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 7UT.
Both Kevin Courtney (NUT) and Angelo Gavrielatos (Education International) will be in attendance
A key sponsor of this year’s Education World Forum is Bridge International Academies, one of the world’s largest for-profit education companies. Bridge plans to sell basic education services directly to 10,000,000 fee-paying students throughout Africa and Asia by 2025.
Bridge has set up in low-income communities such as Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and India to tap into the 800 million primary and nursery aged pupils whose families live on less than two dollars a day. These poor families nevertheless spend a disproportionate amount of their incomes securing an education for their children, resulting in fat profits, totalling some 64 billion US dollars for the companies like Bridge that prey on their aspirations for a better life for their children. In for-profit systems, poor families are forced to make invidious choices between educating their boys or their girls and this usually means girls do not receive an education. For-profit schools also undermine the development of public education systems open to all children.
In 2016 the Ugandan Government ordered the closure of all of Bridge’s 63 schools because of their failure to meet the Government’s educational and legal standards. Ugandan Government inspectors said children were being taught in sub-standard facilities and unsanitary conditions.
Bridge has received 100 million US dollars in funding for its for-profit education mission from a range of commercial backers and government agencies including the World Bank (IFC), the UK Government’s DFID, and billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.
Today education unions and civil society groups are demanding free state-education that is universally accessible in every community, setting the standard for high quality education. This is a precondition for achieving quality education for all and a better world.
Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:
“Bridge is listed as ‘gold partner’ of this year’s Education World Forum. However, their performance around the globe is anything but gold standard. They are disrupting the free state-education in Uganda to make a profit and they have now been ordered to close the schools by the Ugandan Government.
“Today, education unions and civil society groups are demanding free state education that is universally accessible in every community, setting the standard for high quality education. This is a precondition for achieving quality education for all and a better world. Education is a human right and a public good – for the good of learners and society, not private profit.”
Angelo Gavrielatos, Project Director of Education International, said:
“Failing to employ qualified teachers and observe standards in relation to national curricula and school buildings, Bridge International Academies demonstrates wilful neglect and disregard for national educational and legal requirements in so far as the provision of education is concerned. This led to the Ugandan government ordering their closure.
“One would have thought that respect for national legislative frameworks by all education providers would have been a precondition by the EWF with respect to sponsorship of the event.”
Further information about the campaign against Bridge International is available here.
Read more about Education International’s campaign for quality education here.