Cross-linked with Bertelsmann Stiftung – Future Challenges
Young Zimbabwean girls in a classroom – Credit: Lizzy Biggs (CC BY-NC 2.0)
On July 3, Pearson, a UK textbook company, announced its launch of a £10 million (approximately 15.4 million USD, 12.7 million Euros) fund directed at affordable education for children from low-income households in Ghana.
However, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) question whether it will improve school attendance, as many focus on raising enrollment and attendance rates among in government-funded schools. Sir Michael Barber, former education adviser for the former UK prime minister, Tony Blair, currently serves as Pearson’s chief education adviser and chairman of the new fund.
The first investment from the new fund is a stake in Omega schools, a chain of affordable, for-profit schools in Ghana, founded by Ghanaian entrepreneur, Ken Donkoh, and Professor James Toole of Newcastle University in the UK. In less than two years, Omega has expanded to ten schools and 6000 students. Professor James Tooley, a professor of education policy, is also an advocate of low-cost private schools.
Pearson’s investment will enable Omega Schools to expand beyond Ghana’s capital city, Accra. This expansion could mean Omega Schools would provide low-cost private education to tens of thousands of Ghanaian primary and secondary students. Additionally, Pearson has a pre-existing stake in Bridge International Academies, a chain of low-cost private schools in Kenya.