Ugandan authorities have ordered the closure of a chain of “for-profit international schools” backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg over concerns of poor sanitation and teaching.
A Ugandan high court judge ruled last week that Bridge International Schools was not licensed properly, provided unsanitary spaces and relied on unqualified teachers – allegations that students, parents and representatives of the school have denied.
“They say that they want to close Bridge schools, that Bridge schools have poor sanitation when they have never visited any academy to prove whether there is clean water or even clean toilets but the toilets are there, water is there nothing is missing,” said a student of the school, Paul Waswa.
The US-owned chain of low-cost academies, which is also backed by the UK government, first opened in a Nairobi slum in 2009 before setting up in Uganda in 2015.
The organisation runs more than 400 nurseries and primary schools across Africa.
“Some of us are casual workers, when you get some little money you can pay fees here in instalments and they are okay with it. But you just can’t wake up one morning and decide to close the school. They look after our children, if you inspect the school, all the amenities are there. Our children used to go to different schools with very poor standards but now they are learning very well here,” said an unidentified casual worker in the school.
“We are not a threat to the standards of schooling, we are not a threat to the ministry, we are not a threat to any private or public schools. We have only come into the education gap as an alternative. We are giving parents an alternative to have their children study and get a high quality education but at a very affordable fee,“Customer Experience Manager, Bridge Schools, Don Mulondo.