Canadian researcher arrested for lying about identity to gain access to Ugandan primary schools

KAMPALA, Uganda, June 9, 2016 /CNW/ -- A Canadian researcher associated with Education International, Curtis Riep, was arrested in Uganda after school leaders at five primary schools alerted authorities to an unknown foreign man seeking entry to their schools by pretending to be a member of the schools' administrative team. When school leaders recognised that Mr Riep was not from their institution they were scared for the safety and security of their pupils and called the authorities. Mr Riep was subsequently arrested.

"He came into our school and said he worked for our organisation, Bridge International Academies," said Aramazani Kasango, a school leader at Bridge International Academies in Wanyange Lake. "He wanted to go into our classrooms and speak to teachers. I was afraid for the safety of my pupils and teachers, so I called the police."

"As guardians of children, we have a fiduciary responsibility to protect our pupils," says Andrew White, the Director of Bridge International Academies in Uganda. "Every parent expects that the school their children attend will protect their safety. Teachers also expect that the school at which they work will ensure that they are able to teach and lead their class without intervention. We would expect any school in the world to behave exactly as our staff did, and find it upsetting that Mr Riep acted as though children were Uganda they were not afforded the same rights and respect of children in Canada."

Mr Riep not only allegedly broke Ugandan laws of impersonation, he has also violated research codes of ethics by failing to be truthful or seek the consent of his research participants. Bridge International Academies has stated clearly that they would have welcomed his research if he had approached the management of Bridge in Uganda and informed them and sought their participation in the research.

Bridge International Academies is the world's largest education innovation organization working to create a high-quality education for children whose families live on less than $2 per day per person. They regularly participate in research with outside organizations and have engaged with researchers from Stanford, Harvard, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the IFC, and many others. "As a research-based organisation ourselves, we find it imperative to openly evaluate our own work and to continually improve our services," said Mr White. "However, to protect our families we will only work within the confines of codes of ethics governing research."

Bridge has reached out to Education International to welcome a more forward and collegial approach in which they can work together for the betterment of children across the world. "Bridge welcomes constructive engagements with stakeholders in the education industry and this includes institutions such as Education International, which may be particularly keen to research institutional practices that are proving to support teachers in a way that benefits children's development," said Mr White. "We hope that they agree to work together to improve education for all children."

 

SOURCE Bridge International Academies

For further information: Lucy Bradlow, 415-307-3218, lucy.bradlow@bridgeinternationalacademies.com

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