Sunday, August 21, 2016

What We Should Learn From Uganda

This post is a follow-up to Friday's post about how the destructive business models pioneered by companies like Walmart and Microsoft are at the core of the corporate-backed push to replace traditional public schools with unaccountable, often for-profit, charter schools.

From Valarie Strauss' Answer Sheet column in the Washington Post:

Uganda's education minister just announced that the government is closing a controversial chain of for-profit nursery and primary schools because, she said, national standards were being ignored and the "life and safety" of some 12,000 children were endangered because of poor hygiene and sanitation.

Now I don't know much about Uganda, but when I think of the country, it's as a struggling third world nation. I'm sure there are many wonderful things about Uganda, but I certainly don't think of it as a place that has the economic wherewithal to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially when it comes in the form of billions of dollars in aid from the World Bank, wealthy individuals like Bill Gates, large corporations like Pearson Education, and the US and British governments. Yet that's exactly what they are doing, shuttering 63 schools operated by a for-profit corporation business known as Bridges International Academies (BIA), funded by this who's who of deep pockets, operating hundreds of "school-in-a-box" type institutions in African countries, including Kenya and Uganda.

It doesn't surprise me that the Gates Foundation gang of "venture philanthropists" and education for-profit charlatans like Pearson Education are involved in something like this. I can imagine that Gates sees a nation like Uganda as being so desperate for cash that it makes a perfect laboratory for his experiments in "unleashing powerful market forces" on children. I'll bet it never occurred to him and his squad of education deformers that their hosts would be so rude as to bite the hand that feeds them, but with this action, Uganda is showing we first world nations what we need to do to stop these child abusers who would turn generations of children into test score coal miners working to fill the coffers of education mercenaries like Pearson Education and BIA.

For-profit corporations exist for one purpose only and that is to make a profit. I doesn't surprise me at all that BIA cuts corners on things like hygiene and sanitation. Of course they have substandard facilities. It's a given that a for-profit corporation would try to get away with "unqualified staff and teachers." I could have predicted that they would try to save money with "scripted curriculums developed overseas." I have no doubt that they ignored Uganda's national standards in the name of squeezing another dollar out of those poor kids. The thing that continues to shock me, however, is that Americans are letting these very same bad actors get away with exactly the same model in our country under the banner of charter schools, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core.

From Salima Namusobya, executive director of the nongovernmental Ugandan organization Initiative for Social and Economic Rights:

"We have long been worried that BIA schools did not respect the government guidelines on basic requirements and minimum standards for schools, for example, regarding infrastructure, purposefully used unqualified teachers in order to reduce costs, in violations of Ugandan laws, and were developing a massive for-profit business without the agreement of proper oversight authorities."

Sadly, we might not even be able to say this in the States because we have actually allowed the bad guys to write our education laws and standards. It is well known, for instance, that the Gates Foundation almost single-handedly managed the creation of the Common Core federal school curriculum and charter schools legally operate with virtually no public oversight.

From Frederick Mwesigye, executive director of the Forum for Education NGOS in Uganda:

"The Ugandan education system suffers many shortcomings. However, it does not mean that any investors can come in and make profit out of the situation by delivering low-quality education while disregarding national authorities and standards. International treaties and a recent resolution from the UN Human Rights Council make clear that it is the duty of the government to close schools that are sub-standard or that lead to commercialization of education, and we applaud the Government for upholding its obligations."

So good on Uganda for not allowing their children to be exploited by the venture philanthropists and  not letting the child labor profiteers get away with it. I presume that the US has signed on to that same UN resolution. Let Uganda be an inspiration to us. Maybe some day we will catch up to them.

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edblisa said...

Gates money has slowed the cure of Malaria in African nations. By waving his money around, he has created closed communities of Dr's, pharmacists and chemists. The medical community used to collaborate on their findings and share their research and thoughts for the greater good of the nations. By offering a "reward" to the Pharmaceutical company that comes up with the "cure", he has stopped all collaboration and slowed progress. I don't know how someone can be so amoral and still wake up everyday thinking that they are so great? His money buys nothing but misery for those accepting his "gifts".

Sophia said...

As far as I can tell, the USA is slow to sign up to UN conventions in general, and appears to not be a member of the UN Human Rights Council. See for example, the UN declaration on the rights of the child