Uganda is suffering from an education crisis, clearly seen in the numbers provided by her ministry of education which puts the number of students who do not finish primary education at 68%, the number of teachers who failed a basic maths test and a basic literacy test at 78% and 61% respectively and the numbers of teachers absent during the week at 29%.
With these less than brilliant marks for schools run by the government, it is a bit surprising that Uganda’s High Court has ordered the closure of a chain of private schools citing concerns of poor sanitation and different curriculum.
The Education Ministry standing on the ruling insisted that the 63 schools be shut down immediately.
These schools are run by the Bridge International Academy group, a charity organization that aims to educate more than 10 million children across the world by 2025, school fees run as low as $5.
Bridge International also operates in Nigeria and entered into a partnership with Liberia in January to run their private schools. Bridge International is supported by various foundations including those of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.
It is therefore no surprise that Bridge International has incorporated technology to a great extent in their teaching endeavors; lesson notes and timetables have been installed on e-readers and tablets. A judge, however, insists that the schools have failed to meet the national standards despite being given many opportunities to do so.
The group, which is US-owned, first began operations in 2015 but its growth has been dogged every step of the way by accusations of poor sanitation, inadequate infrastructure and failure to follow the national curriculum. In July, for instance, the government had ordered their closure on the ground that they were recruiting unqualified teachers.
School authorities have also had to beat down accusations about an over-reliance on technology which they say has helped simplify their jobs and helped them better monitor teacher attendance.
Bridge International also says that some of the uncompleted school buildings that the education ministry has a problem with had been inspected and approved by the local District Education and Infrastructure Committee.
The group plans on appealing the court ruling and luckily they have a few supporters who argue that government schools are worse off. Should the court’s decision stand, a huge blow would have been dealt to Bridge International which has described itself as the world’s largest education innovation company.