Scores of school children as well as their parents and other Ugandans hit the streets of the country’s capital Kampala on Saturday to protest a court order for the closure of the Bridge International Academies (BIA), a network of US low-cost private schools in the country.
A judge at the Kampala High Court judge on Friday found that the 63 primary schools under the Bridge International Academies did not have valid authorizations. The court also found that the teachers were not competent to teach and the classrooms were unhealthy.
But parents with wards in the school disagree with the court’s ruling and say they will not allow the schools to be shut down.
Dorothy Babinye who has two children at the BIA school said: “We are in this together as parents. We are not going to allow Bridge to close. We shall fight tooth and nail to make sure that Bridge stays there and forever. Bridge has to stay.”
Another parent Milbroad Tumuhereze spoke about the inconvenience the court order would cause parents with wards in the school.
“People there in the parliament they didn’t care for the people down, on low level income,” Milbroad said adding that “nobody has come out here to support us and our children” whom he said have been “studying well” in the schools where “the mode of payment is very very ok.”
But the affected parents are not the only ones fighting the keep the schools open. Community Engagement Program Manager for the Bridge International Academies Dawn Mulondo Mugerwa said they are appealing the High Court’s order.
“Bridge International Academies and the parents are very disappointed with the outcome of the ruling and we are appealing the decision in the Court of Appeal. And we are asking for the president and the minister, honorable minister to come down to our academies and see what is happening so that they can actually support us in the improvement of the future of the children of Uganda,” she said.
Launched in 2008, the Bridge International Academies offer low-cost technology-oriented education to children in schools in developing countries in Africa and Asia.
The schools financed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, have nearly 12,000 students in Uganda.