Kenya: Bridge loses court case
The High Court of Kenya in Nairobi has dismissed a complaint of Bridge Academies against the education union KNUT and its General Secretary Wilson Sossion, taking a stand for the defense of quality education.
The for-profit private education provider Bridge Academies has lost a court case against the Kenya National Union of Teacher (KNUT), an Education International (EI) affiliate in the country. Bridge had claimed defamatory practices by KNUT and had accused Sossion to work for outside interests. These claims have been judged as unjustified by the High Court’s principal judge Richard Mwongo.
In his ruling, Mwongo states that the critical publications and assertions made by KNUT regarding Bridge are not defamatory since they are backed up by facts and concern the right to education, which is enshrined in the 2010 Kenyan Constitution and the Basic Education Act of 2013. He highlights that education is a matter of national importance and that the publication of articles and information on Bridge schools “naturally attract attention, interest and concern of the public”. Based on these arguments, the court found that inquiries and publications about the chain’s operations by KNUT were not an offence, but that the union was rather acting in defence of one of the nation’s primary concerns.
The law also makes licensing, registration and accreditation of education institutions mandatory in Kenya. The court stated that Bridge had not been able to prove that its license is in process of validation, providing another argument for dismissal of the for-profit chain’s accusals.
Wilson Sossion said that his union was “greatly excited with the court ruling. The judgment underscores the centrality of our constitution and our laws in regulating our education, which in effect upholds our sovereignty as a nation. The right of Kenyans to audit what happens in all learning institutions, both private and public, is emphasized by the court.”