American Teachers Unions Oppose Innovative Schools—In Africa

The Heartland Institute

A company operating a chain of private schools in Africa is facing criticism from U.S. and international teachers unions.

Bridge International Academies (BIA), a for-profit startup founded in 2009 and funded by donors including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the World Bank, operates more than 500 schools, primarily in Kenya and Uganda.

“Independent research shows Bridge pupils have fluency and comprehension scores 37 percent higher, and maths scores 24 percent higher than their peers in neighboring government schools,” BIA’s website states. “In the 2016 Kenyan National Exam, Bridge pupils got an average of 59 percent compared to the national average of 44 percent.” 

BIA has also been criticized by teachers unions throughout the world.

In March, Kenya’s high court ordered an injunction prohibiting the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary general, Knut agents and official from making or publishing defamatory statements against BIA.

Education International (EI), a global federation of teachers unions, said in October 2016 BIA “has created a business plan based on strict standardisations, automated technology, cheap school structures, and internet-enabled devices that are used to carry out all activities that make up an education system.”

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