The United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child has expressed concern about the funding by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) of low fee private schools in the global South. The chain Bridge International Academies operates in several African countries on a 'school in a box' model. It sells scripted lessons taught in tin sheds by unqualified school leavers to some of the poorest parents in the world. It has backing not only from DfID but also from the education corporation Pearson and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

In a statement the CRC said that it is concerned about DdID's 'funding of low-fee, private and informal schools run by for-profit business enterprises in recipient States. Rapid increase in the number of such schools may contribute to sub-standard education, less investment in free and quality public schools, and deepened inequalities in the recipient countries, leaving behind children who cannot afford even low-fee schools.'

In another development a researcher for Education International's campaign against education privatisation was arrested in Uganda as he was carrying out research on the operations of Bridge International Academies. As a Canadian affiliate of EI put it: 'BIA’s attempt at intimidation demonstrates how the company fears transparency about its own operations .'

DfID has a long history of promoting privatisation, not only in Africa but also in Pakistan, where it paid Pearson's Michael Barber to 'reform' education. The statement by the UN committee can only add power to those of us campaigning to end this vicious assault on public eduction and it is to be hoped that it will be reported as widely as possible.