Pearson has just launched a $15 million fund that will invest in low-cost private schools in Africa and Asia. The Affordable Learning Fund will not only fund low fee private schools directly but also other organisations that support schools such as mobile content providers and teacher training accreditation services.
The first investment of the fund is a stake in Omega Schools, a privately held chain of affordable, for-profit schools based in Ghana. Omega Schools were developed by Ken Donkoh, a Ghanaian entrpreneur, and Professor James Tooley a professor of Education at Newcastle University and proponent of low fee private schools.
The investment will allow Omega to expand from ten schools in greater Accra serving about 6,000 students to a school chain serving tens of thousand of students throughout Ghana
This investment follows a stake taken by Pearson in 2010 in Bridge International Academies, a chain of low fee private schools in Kenya.
“Pearson is committed to achievement for all children, and focused on low-income families around the world," said Tony Blair's former education adviser Sir Michael Barber who is Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor and Chairman of the new Fund.
“Low-cost private education is an important, complementary element of education in developing countries and should be seen as an active partner with governments looking to ensure all children have access to a high quality education. We are convinced that affordable schools, operated on a for-profit basis, can make a big difference.
"We have examined carefully the challenges and opportunities of this sector, and we’re committed to sharing our knowledge with governments, donors and aid agencies and to working with them on this urgent, global mission."
Professor Tooley added: “Our research has shown that affordable private schools are filling an urgent need in some of the poorest parts of the world. With Omega Schools, we’re working to raise educational quality even further, to better serve more and more children.”
Pearson, which owns the Financial Times and the book publisher Penguin, generates 80 per cent of operating profits from education, and describes itself as the world's leading learning company.
Photo credit: OER Africa