Education activists, teachers and global union leaders went to London to urge shareholders at the Pearson Annual General Meeting to stop funding Bridge International Academies, a for-profit company that makes money by shortchanging the education of thousands of at risk children.
Also attending to observe the proceedings was the Honorable Amos Muhinga Kimunya the Deputy Chair of the Kenya parliamentary education committee.
Pearson, why do you back Bridge International Academies? Many Bridge schools employ unqualified teachers delivering a non-approved curriculum in substandard facilities. #studentsbeforeprofit pic.twitter.com/S9lg4tGhMS— EduInternational (@eduint) April 30, 2018
In announcing the closure of these schools, authorities in Kenya and Uganda have cited the company's failure to seek registration to operate, failure to employ qualified teachers, failure to conform to national curriculum requirements and use of unsafe facilities. Bridge has retaliated by taking legal action against its critics in an attempt to silence them.
Happening now: EI with the support of KNUT, NEU & AFT are demonstrating at the Pearson Annual General Meeting in London. The message is clear: Pearson’s ongoing support for Bridge International Academies is beyond justification. @pearson put #studentsbeforeprofit! pic.twitter.com/8WjY9AgE30— EduInternational (@eduint) May 4, 2018
“Bridge International Academies (is) an entity unfit to work for the realization of commonly agreed goals for education,” expressed Johanna Jaara Åstrand President Lärarförbundet (Swedish Teachers’ Union).
Unsere Kollegen in Deutschland wissen es: Lehrer stehen für hochwertige öffentliche Bildung und nutzen Technologie, um jungen Lernenden noch mehr Qualität zu bieten. Aber @pearson scheint das anders zu sehen? #StudentsBeforeProfit @gew_bund #TellPearson pic.twitter.com/SCbXFYVUPO pic.twitter.com/5HLnNSyMXU— EduInternational (@eduint) May 4, 2018
Bridge is one of the largest education for-profit companies in the world, with plans to sell basic education services directly to 10 million fee-paying students throughout Africa and Asia by 2025. Bridge's business plan is predicated on the employment of unqualified staff delivering a highly scripted, standardised curriculum in substandard facilities.
Despite their slick marketing, the company uses cost-cutting techniques aimed at minimising operational costs in order to maximise profit. In both Uganda and Kenya, Bridge schools have been ordered to shut because of the company's neglect and disregard for national legal and educational requirements.