High Court slams Bridge International Academies

In a groundbreaking ruling, the High Court of Uganda has determined that Bridge International Academies (BIA), a for-profit edubusiness, deliberately set up illegal operations in the country with blatant disregard for national laws and regulations.

In a groundbreaking ruling, the High Court of Uganda has determined that Bridge International Academies (BIA), a for-profit edubusiness, deliberately set up illegal operations in the country with blatant disregard for national laws and regulations.

 

According to the ruling, not only did Bridge purposely ignore national requirements to set up their for-profit facilities, they continue to refuse to comply with the minimum standards required by law.

 

The ruling states that Bridge came “to Uganda at pleasure, starts schools all over the country without any registration with any conformity to relevant government department speaks to a high level of reckless disregard of national institutions set up to ensure qualitative education in the country.”

 

The ruling, presented by the honorable Lydia Mugambe, an internationally renowned jurist, stated that Bridge “set out to operate schools in Uganda illegally…[they are] not coming with clean hands.”  

 

“This ruling is damning indictment. It shows that Bridge International Academies considers itself above the law, knowingly neglecting educational standards aimed at protecting children. There is a clear difference in purpose between those committed to free public quality education open to all and those who seek to exploit the dreams and aspirations of the most vulnerable for profit.” said Angelo Gravielatos, Project Director, Education International (EI).

 

The ruling comes after BIA was ordered to close its facilities for unsanitary conditions and other issues related to curricula and staff qualifications. BIA ignored the order and sued the government. This ruling comes in response. (Full ruling here)

 

The U.S. based  multinational has a chain of for profit, private schools targeting poor families in an increasing number of African and Asian countries. It uses unqualified teaching staff, who deliver pre-determined content from a tablet to fee paying students.  

 

The Bridge “business plan undermines the right of all learners to a free quality education, creating and entrenching inequalities in education...it also undermines the status and working conditions and rights of education workers,” according to a statement by Dulunga Buni Philip, former Ag. General Secretary of Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU).

 

“We need to ensure the safety of our children and sovereignty of Uganda,” he added in a statement published after the Ministry of Education and Sport ordered the facilities closed. Those who are truly interested in the education of children in Uganda “should support our education system,” which is open to all learners, he concluded.

 

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