Jonathan Pelto writes about a report on Bill Gates’ underwriting of “journalism” touting privatization of public schools in Liberia, gates is an investor in Bridge International Academies, a for-profit business that offers scripted schooling by uncertified teachers in poor nations in Africa. Some have called it the new colonialism masquerading as philanthropy.
Gates has invested in BIA. it is not philanthropy.
“In a stunning expose written by Adam Johnson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), it becomes undeniably clear that Bill Gates has reached the point where his billions not only fund the myriad of corporate education reform initiatives that are sweeping the country and the world, but his investment in the media taints much of the coverage of these developments.
In an article entitled, “This Guardian Piece Touting Bill Gates’ Education Investment Brought to You by Bill Gates,” FAIR’s Adam Johnson explains:
“The Guardian (8/31/16) published a broadly positive report on Liberian education, which is handing over the reins of 120 primary schools to a consortium of private education companies and NGOs in a pilot program exploring privatization of the West African nation’s schools. One passage in particular was especially glowing:
“The deputy minister [of Education], Aagon Tingba, is reading The Bee Eater, a biography of Michele Rhee, a polarizing educational reformist and former chancellor of Washington, DC, public schools.
“She changed the lives of children in Washington, but people complained her methods were controversial. But she made a difference. So why can’t we do that here?”
“What the piece failed to note—other than the fact that Rhee’s tenure left DC’s schools “worse by almost every conceivable measure” (Truthout, 10/23/13)—is that multi-billionaire Bill Gates is both the major investor of the company administering the Liberian education overhaul and the principal of the Gates Foundation, sponsor of the Guardian’s Global Development vertical, where the story appeared.
“The story clearly labels the Gates Foundation as its sponsor. What it never mentioned is that Bill Gates is a major investor of the firm at the heart of the story, Bridge Academies International, having pitched in, along with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, $100 million for the “education startup.”
“Making the conflict more glaring is the fact that this is a personal, for-profit investment for Gates, not a charitable donation.
“The Guardian claims its Global Development vertical, launched in 2011, is “editorially independent of any sponsorship.” According to its most recent tax filings in 2014, the Gates Foundation has an on-going $5.69 million grant to Guardian News Media Limited.”