Education International
Education International

Uganda: School closures a major blow to for-profit chain

published 29 July 2016 updated 1 August 2016

Bridge International Academies appears to be losing its foothold in Uganda following a government decision to close 87 for-profit primary schools, including those belonging to Bridge, after failing to comply with minimum standards and regulations.

The closures of the private primary schools in Uganda’s Jinja District took place with immediate effect on July 11 after a decision by the District Inspector of Schools, according to the Ugandan Daily Monitor newspaper.

Below standards

The report stated that the schools failed to comply with “minimum requirements prescribed by the Ministry of Education and Sports.” It went on to say that they had failed to recruit qualified teachers, secure licences and did not have appropriate infrastructure, such as proper toilets, classrooms and teachers’ staff rooms. Bridge International Academies’ (BIA) campuses in four areas were affected by the closure.

Matter of national importance

The day the closures were announced, Margaret Rwabushaija, the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU)National Chairperson and member of Parliament, raised the same concerns during a parliamentary session. She spoke on a matter of national importance, urging the Ministry of Education to ensure that BIA schools be thoroughly inspected in terms of the quality of the education they provide. “If they are not conforming to the educational standards of the country, their licence should be revoked immediately; lest we risk the future of our children”, she said.

Rwabushaija pointed out that Bridge, which was given approval  two years ago to operate only one school in Uganda, was recently running as many as 62 establishments. Rwabushaija went on to note that Bridge employs unqualified and poorly trained academic staff who deliver scripted curriculum.

EI: governments should implement a legislative framework

The UNATU chairperson’s address to Parliament echoes Education International (EI)’s demand of all governments to implement and enforce a legislative framework to give effect to the provision of quality education consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda, which compels governments “ to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” is reinforced byTarget 1 requiring governments to “ ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education. Furthermore, the legislative framework must guarantee that w here non-state actors exist they must meet minimum standards for the purpose of registration. Those standards include the employment of qualified teachers, the delivery of a curriculum in accordance with national requirements in educational premises and facilities that are adequate for the courses of study.