East Africa: Cheap private schools Bridge in turmoil

Founded in 2008, the US start-up Bridge International Academies has opened hundreds of low-cost private schools in Africa, mainly in Kenya, but also in Uganda, Liberia and Nigeria.

But today, these institutions are more controversial.

On March 1, 88 civil society organizations from around the world sent a letter to investors at Bridge International Academies asking them to stop supporting this US start-up of low-cost schools on the African continent founded in 2008.

Recipients include Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose foundations are direct investors. But there are also indirect investors, such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) or Proparco, a subsidiary of the French Development Agency (AFD) dedicated to the private sector.

Lack of transparency

The latter have invested in the Novastar Ventures fund which supports Bridge International Academies. The start-up, which aims to revolutionize education in Africa by offering quality education at low prices is a great success with investors.

But NGOs are questioning for lack of transparency, low cost education and lawlessness in some countries.

For example, the company has been engaged for two years in a stand-off with the Ugandan government, which claims that schools do not comply with health and safety standards. Last November, the British Parliament was also worried about the quality of education in some of these schools.

“Half-truth-based criticism,” says Morrison Rwakakamba. The director of Bridge International Academy in Uganda, who ensures that the schools are in the process of being regularized and that students in Bridge schools are performing better than national averages.

In this message on the social network Twitter, Morrison Rwakakamba speaks of “farce” about the letter of 88 NGOs.

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