16 March 2022
The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) has quietly divested from New Globe Schools, better known as Bridge International Academies (BIA), a for-profit school chain operating in four African countries and India. The IFC has invested a total of $13.5 million in BIA since 2014, with the intention of supporting the company’s expansion to other countries.
In response, Anderson Miamen, National Coordinator of the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE) in Liberia, said: “We applaud the IFC and World Bank for this bold step, which is long overdue. This is an extremely welcome development and a win for ongoing efforts by right-to-education campaigners and others to push for more investment in public education by governments and development partners across the world, especially in Africa. We call on the World Bank to work directly with governments to increase the quality, inclusiveness, and gender sensitivity of public education and schools.”
Nadia Daar, Head of Oxfam International’s Washington DC office, said: “This is a clear signal that the IFC is distancing itself further from investments that pose risks to children, families, and teachers, and undermine public education systems. The IFC should also make permanent its freeze on investments in for-profit private education. This divestment should be a wake-up call to other financiers of profit-driven schools targeting lower-income communities. The message is clear: the model is broken and harmful.”
Salima Namusobya, Executive Director of Uganda’s Initiative for Economic and Social Rights (ISER), said: “The BIA model and its implementation undermined the right to education and the rule of law in Uganda. The IFC divestiture comes at a time when a majority of BIA schools have closed down since their for-profit model was unsustainable, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. We hope other investors will follow suit.”