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Saturday, July 20, 2024

INVESTIGATION REVEALS PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN THREE COUNTIES SEEK TO END ASSOCIATION WITH BRIDGE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIES

Date:

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – An investigation by Smart News Liberia has revealed that the majority of public schools operated by Bridge International Academies (BIA) are eager to terminate their association with the organization due to strained working relationships.

Authorities from over 10 public schools in Bomi, Grand Bassa, and Bong counties informed Smart News Liberia that Bridge International Academies has failed to deliver on its promises. According to school administrators, Bridge had pledged to renovate and upgrade school facilities, none of which has been accomplished. This failure, combined with other issues, has led to significant challenges, prompting calls for the Ministry of Education to either remove Bridge from the education sector or from the country entirely.

Administrators from these schools shared similar challenges during the investigation, questioning why the Ministry of Education allowed Bridge to operate in Liberia. They alleged that Bridge’s primary intent is to collect money from partners at their expense.

One administrator expressed, “Bridge doesn’t care about teachers’ welfare. It has failed our educational sector.” Another highlighted the dire conditions faced by students, stating, “Students, especially the younger ones, sleep during lessons due to hunger… Some even leave school to find food in nearby villages.”

The lack of a clear agreement between the Ministry of Education and Bridge International was also a concern. One administrator stated, “I haven’t seen any Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from Bridge or from MOE. They simply announced one morning that the school is under Bridge’s control. I believe similar problems exist in all public schools managed by Bridge International.”

Smart News Liberia’s investigation also found that public schools under Bridge’s supervision experience declining student enrollment each school year due to poor management.

In Bomi County, an administrator revealed that there has been no significant improvement since Bridge took over the school. “The school building remains the same despite promises from Bridge to renovate it,” he said. He also mentioned a drop in enrollment from 125 to 60 students for the 2021/2022 academic year and alleged that Bridge failed to provide his resettlement benefits.

In Bong County, another administrator claimed that Bridge’s main focus is on generating more donor funding. He alleged that Bridge does not update its database, leading to inaccuracies in student records and misleading donor partners.

The Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) and community elders echoed these concerns, stating that Bridge has failed to deliver on its promises to renovate and improve school facilities. They called on Bridge to leave, emphasizing that the organization does not prioritize the welfare of teachers and students.

Efforts to reach Bridge’s Director of Communications, Mrs. Melody Mezay-Ketter, for comment were unsuccessful as calls to her mobile phone went unanswered, and she did not respond to a text message.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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