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EI announces winner of education prize

The Education International Executive Board, meeting in Brussels, announced that Curtis Riep is the winner of the Albert Shanker Education Award.

Every four years, Education International (EI) awards the Albert Shanker Education Award to a teacher or other education employee in recognition of an outstanding personal contribution to education. The EI award celebrates the awardee’s “professional action [that reflects] a commitment to educational excellence and the promotion of democracy, social justice and equality through education.”

The winner, Curtis Riep, is a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the University of Alberta, Canada. In 2014 he conducted ground-breaking research that helped promote quality public education in Ghana by shining a spotlight on the increasing privatization of education in Ghana and the shortcomings of so-called private “low cost” schools.

Riep’s work extended beyond West Africa when he conducted research on APEC schools in the Philippines. His research contributed to the success of EI’s global response against the privatization and commercialization of education.    

In 2016, Riep conducted research into Bridge International Academies (BIA, a for-profit school chain operating illegally in Uganda. This research provided evidence for EI affiliate UNATU’s successful effort to convince the Ugandan government to act against BIA announcing the chain’s closure. 

During his field research Riep was arrested due to  fabricated allegations made by BIA. Whilst allegations were dismissed, deemed to be “without merit”, BIA continued harassing Riep.  Despite the threats and attempted intimidation, Riep concluded the research. The information uncovered has been critical in the campaign to counter the privatisation of public education.

According to the organisations that nominated him, CTF (Canada) and UNATU (Uganda), “over the last half a dozen years Riep has made a contribution to quality publicly-funded public education throughout the world that most could not hope to make in a lifetime. His personal contribution to ensuring all children have access to quality, inclusive, public education regardless of their socio-economic status, gender, or the country they call home is outstanding.”