Bridge and the IFC work together to improve education
25 October 2019
Today there remains an acute shortage of learning opportunities for young people in low and middle income-countries. As such, Bridge is proud to work with funding bodies like the IFC to improve access to learning in places like sub-Saharan Africa.
This learning crisis is the result of weak education systems, reflected in a severe shortage of teachers and low quality teaching in most primary level schools in sub-Saharan Africa. To help address this, over the last ten years Bridge has supported in excess of 25,000 teachers to up-skill and improve the learning of over 750,000 children. This has been possible thanks to social impact investments from bodies like the IFC.
Following a complaint raised by anti-private sector education campaigners — EACHRights — in 2018, the IFC ombudsman is currently undertaking a review of IFC investment in Bridge in Kenya. The review is looking at whether the IFC has followed its own rules and policies in their investment oversight. It is important to note that this ombudsman review is not looking at Bridge’s environmental or social impacts. Bridge already completes an annual monitoring review for the IFC, as do all portfolio organisations.
In relation to the IFC ombudsman’s work, a Bridge spokesperson said: “The IFC and others work in partnership with Bridge because of the consistent independently evidenced learning gains being achieved at both our schools and our government supported schools. The IFC has strong annual due diligence and review processes in place which Bridge must adhere to as a member of the IFC’s portfolio. These processes and reviews — similar to the one being undertaken by CAO — continue to provide us with the opportunity to demonstrate good corporate governance, accountability and transparency.
“We are proud to be in the IFC portfolio, and to have been highlighted in their 2016 Inclusive Business Case Study. We are delighted that the IFC is as committed, as we are, to tackling the global learning crisis and providing children from the most impoverished communities access to quality education. We remain disappointed that EACHRights is choosing to dedicate its resources to undermining an organisation improving learning in some of Kenya’s most underserved areas.”
In response to this review, approximately 579 Bridge school staff and 924 Bridge parents have written individually to the IFC ombudsman to express their support for the work that Bridge does. This was 1,503 letters in total from those within the wider Bridge community, whereas the original letter of concern to the IFC ombudsman represented the views of ten individuals.
Notes to Editors
Bridge has served over 750,000 children and supported the professional development of over 25,000 teachers and school leaders over the last decade.
The IFC ombudsman service is called the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman or CAO. They are required to undertake a review of any organisation that is a beneficiary of IFC investment; if a complaint about that investment is raised from within the country benefiting from that investment. EACHRights, a Kenyan organisation that campaigns against private sector investment in education raised a complaint in 2018. The CAO process is such that following an initial review, it has to take the process to the next stage which is compliance, unless both parties agree to dispute resolution. EachRights declined dispute resolution which means that compliance assessment is the only available option. As part of regular E&S monitoring, Bridge provides the IFC with an Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) that explores all these issues. The 2018 AMR was submitted as usual.
EachRights made their complaint on behalf of 10 anonymous – and alleged – former teachers and parents at Bridge schools If the ten individuals represented by the complaint lead organisation EACHRights were part of this service, their voices represent around 0.0095% of children and 0.024% of teachers connected to Bridge.
This is the third consecutive attempt by EACHRights to get investors to divest from Bridge, based on ideological grounds.
Bridge was touched and grateful that 579 school staff and 924 parents wrote individually to CAO to express their support for the work that Bridge does; 1,503 letters in total from those in the Bridge community.
For more information please contact:
Bridge Press Office
+44 20 3813 8236