Unions call on World Bank to cease investments in low-fee private schools

26 April 2017
Union leaders and education advocates joined forces on 21 April in front of the World Bank in protest of its continued support of for-profit education agencies in general, and specifically, Bridge International Academies.

The World Bank’s continued support for Bridge is impossible to understand in light of recent court decisions confirming Bridge’s poor track record.

In a joint letter to Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, the leaders of several international teachers' unions and global unions call on the World Bank to immediately cease its support for low-fee private schools like Bridge International Academies. 

"Access to education is a fundamental human right and must not be based on a family’s ability to pay. By supporting the expansion of low-fee private schooling and other competitive practices, the World Bank is ensuring that a large number of the world's most vulnerable children have no hope for a quality education. We believe that a high-quality public education must be recognized as a public good, and that the provision of education is a primary responsibility of governments, not corporations and entrepreneurs."

"We need to remind the bank what its priorities should be—supporting public education, not privatizing schools that create a few winners at the expense of millions of children," said AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson, who helped lead the rally.

Watch a video of her intervention:

International education leaders at the rally included representatives from the International Labor Rights Forum, the South African Democratic Teachers Union and the Kenya National Union of Teachers. Other sponsors were the National Education Association, the AFL-CIO, the Global Campaign for Education, the Uganda National Teachers' Union, Education International and Public Services International.

On 28 April, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank responded to the joint letter. They did not acknowledge the importance of the public sector in education, instead declaring that the IFC is devoted to private sector development. However, the IFC states in its letter that it remains available for a continuing dialogue on how best to extend access to quality education for children in developing countries.

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