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UN committee criticises UK support for private schools in developing countries

02 June 2016
Children in classroom
The United Kingdom’s controversial support for commercial, low-cost private schools in developing countries has been questioned by a UN Committee on children’s rights. The UK Department for International Development’s support for the for-profit primary and pre-primary school chain, Bridge International Academies (BIA) was singled out as a particular concern.

Concerns were also expressed during the periodic review of the UK’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that commercial private schools in developing countries, with the backing of the UK government, are resisting efforts by governments, such as Kenya’s, to regulate the sector and put in place minimum standards.

The questioning took place during a review of the UK's implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 23-24 May in Geneva. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which monitors children’s rights, including the right to education, also asked for clarification on the UK's plan to academise all schools in England.

The 23-strong UK delegation was unable to comment on the UK’s support for private schools abroad, or how it was monitoring the impact that 'millions of pounds' of UK aid to developing countries is having on children's right to education.

Commercial low-cost private school chains, are coming under greater scrutiny for a number of issues, including: concerns on their quality, which is based on standardised teaching and poor labour conditions; the segregation effect of their fees; and, profit-making from poor families, all in contravention with human rights treaties.

The UK has channelled development aid to low-fee private schools in countries such a Kenya and Nigeria. In an earlier question on increased development aid directed to private actors in education and health, the CRC questioned whether the UK will introduce a legal framework to oblige business to respect children’s rights.

Source: http://www.right-to-education.org

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