Sixty three nursery and primary institutions run by Bridge International Academies (BIA), a ‘for profit’ educational network operating in Uganda, are to be closed by September.
The announcement made recently in Parliament by education minister Janet Kataha Museveni, will affect about 12,000 children, who have to look for new schools beginning next term. According to Ms. Museveni, the schools, where pupils pay about US$5, are not following the guidelines as set by the Ministry of Education and Sports.
According to Ms. Museveni, the lives of the 12.000 pupils at the BIA schools had been ‘endangered’, with most of the schools operating under poor sanitary and infrastructural conditions. Further, the schools reportedly employ ‘unqualified’ teachers, ostensibly to cut down on operating costs, and that they also offer an obscure curriculum, not in tandem with the official one followed by other public schools.
The schools, all operating in areas where access to education is a thorny issue, are being funded and supported by among others the US government, the World Bank and, billionaires Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and eBay auction Chairman, Pierre Omidyar.
In Africa BIA operates schools in Uganda, Kenya and Liberia, and in a statement by Michael Kaddu, the BIA head of corporate and public affairs in Uganda, the decision will also affect about 800 workers in the country.
Education inspection in Uganda is questionable and just a week ago ministry authorities established that pupils at the Greenhill Academy Buwaate campus had been exposed to erogenous material, prompting reaction by infuriated parents.
A teacher by profession, Janet Museveni was appointed education minister by her husband President Yoweri Museveni in June this year, and her appointment elicited mixed reactions, with some saying she would realign the ministry for better results. Others however, criticized her appointment, saying the job should have been given to a seasoned teacher with practical professional experience.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time BIA schools run into trouble with authorities in the East African region; previously the network has had problems with the Kenyan government which issued new guidelines under which the schools, that enroll about 100.000 pupils in the EA giant economy, can operate.