British Ideologues Should Not Be Meddling With Schools In Africa

I was dismayed to read in The Spectator that British activists are trying to shut down Bridge schools in African countries .

Aidan Hartley writes that:

“… several British charities, in cahoots with some British unions, are making a concerted effort to close down hundreds of schools in Africa. They are doing this because they dislike private education, seeming not to care that this will destroy the life chances of thousands of desperate children, forcing them, at best, into state schools where the teachers are often absent, drunk or incapable.

The campaign involves not only an alphabet soup of left-leaning charities from Action Aid to Amnesty International but also Unison and the National Union of Teachers (NUT). Their attacks are directed at Bridge International Academies, a private company backed by, among others, Bill Gates and the British government.”

Bridge is a private company that provides low-cost private education to kids in some of the poorest communities in the world. This might be hard for someone educated in the West to understand, but the parents who pay for their children to attend Bridge schools have middle-class aspirations for their children and want to send them to schools where the teachers are truly accountable to the parents. It also gives them a sense of pride to be able to invest themselves so fully in their children’s education. And good for them, I say. I went to school in South Africa and I saw firsthand how education transformed people’s lives. My school was partly government funded and we also paid low-cost fees as well. I attended school with kids from the townships whose parent’s life opportunities had been severely limited by Apartheid. They wanted more for their children, most of whom travelled quite a distance to come to school everyday. It made the difference. Many of them are in solid middle-class professions now: engineering, medicine, law, finance etc. We’re all still grateful to our inspiring History teacher and head of year whose dedication and fairness we will remember for the rest of our lives.

It is hideously neo-colonialist of left-wing British ideologues to meddle in the lives of African children. They need to back off.  It is not up to them to decide how those kids should be educated. It is the choice of the parents.

Candice Holdsworth

Candice Holdsworth is the founder and editor of Imagine Athena. It is mythologised that she sprang fully formed from its pages. Candice has an MSc in Political Philosophy from the London School of Economics, and thus can be most commonly found discussing ideas and culture. Her writing can also be found on Thought Leader and On Netflix Now. Follow her on Twitter @CandiceCarrie and Instagram @candicecholdsworth