Why Liberia Is Privatising Primary Schools

In January this year, the government of Liberia made public a radical plan to outsource the running of all the government owned primary schools to a private company.

George Warner, the country’s education minister announced that the for-profit Bridge International Academies will take over both the pre-Primary and Primary education systems. In return the government will direct public funds to support services subcontracted to the firm.


In 2013, 25,000 high school students sat for the state university entrance exams and regrettably all of them failed. The event raised concerns in the country, and the President called the education system a “mess”.
Since then the country has strived to bridge the gap between them and the education systems in other West African countries.

Minister Warner admits that the education system has been “in a state of decay for the last three decades” in the aftermath of the decades long civil conflict and the recent Ebola epidemic only served to worsen the conditions. He adds that “this doesn’t mean that our children are not bright; [rather] the system is failing them”.

Majority of classrooms are crowded, with some pupils standing during lesson time due to a scarcity of chairs, while the teachers struggle to be heard by the entire class.

The news has faced criticism from the world over.

Kishore Singh, the United Nation’s Special Rappoteur on education, thought of the move as endangering the right to education.
“The concept of education as a public good is under attack. Provision of public education of good quality is a core function of the state. Abandoning this to the commercial benefit of a private company constitutes a gross violation of the right to education.”

The teachers in Liberia called the move shameful and have marched on the streets in protest.
Under the Bridge International Academies, education will still be free. The project will roll out on a trial phase in September with 50 schools.

What Is Bridgestone International Academy

Bridgestone is an education innovation company with over 100,000 students. It operates 359 schools in Kenya and 07 schools in Uganda.
It says it has already made a difference in Kenya through what it calls its “Academy-in-a-box” model.

Teaching materials are developed centrally and delivered by teachers off a tablet computer. The computers are also used to monitor how teachers and students are progressing, so any issues can be picked up quickly.

Come September, a new dawn of education will unfold in the country but as of now, the government is faced with convincing the public on their plans.