A new study shines light on the shadows behind a philanthropic organisation’s plans to promote private education in Ghana.
Education International is launching its latest study today at the University College London Institute of Education. It focuses on the operations of the UK charity Absolute Return for Kids (Ark), which is promoting the privatisation of education in the UK and beyond. The investigation, conducted by academics Antonio Olmedo and Carolina Junemann, raises questions about the conflict of interest of philanthropic organisations when they are both advocates and beneficiaries of certain education reforms.
Growing practice meets criticism
The study highlights the involvement of Ark in a controversial privatisation program in Liberia and warns of the increasing role that such so-called philanthropic organisations are assuming in different countries, bypassing the scrutiny and accountability to which public authorities are subjected.
The prospective project in Ghana has already been criticised by teachers, who are opposing it on the grounds that it will privatise, commercialise and commodify public education in the country.
David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International, has questioned the exportation of pro-privatisation policies in an “uncritical” way. After the controversy surrounding the academy school model promoted by Ark “it is crucial for organisations exporting such policies to deal with criticisms they generate domestically before embarking on moving them abroad,” he said.
Mr Christian Addai-Poku, President of the Education International African Regional Committee has commented that “these organisations do not come to Africa for altruistic purposes. With little regard for both local contexts and stakeholders, they seek to impose privatisation agendas by bringing considerable financial and ‘political’ influence to bear upon governments in Africa.”
The research, “In sheep’s clothing: Philanthropy and the privatisation of the ‘democratic’ state” by Olmedo, A. & Junemann, C. (2019) can be downloaded here.
The executive summary can be downloaded here.