29 April 2024

The World Bank Can’t Move Forward Without a Thorough Investigation Into the Bridge Academies Cover-Up

The devastating child abuse and subsequent cover-up that occurred at Kenyan schools funded by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector arm of the World Bank, shocked the global community. News of the wrongdoing was highlighted in media reports last year and confirmed recently by the IFC’s accountability mechanism. After significant pressure, World Bank Group President Ajay Banga finally apologized last month for the IFC’s actions with regard to the Bridge International Academies abuse and ordered an external investigation into the cover-up allegations.

This month’s World Bank Group spring meetings included discussions on the institution’s priority of becoming a bigger, faster bank with more money to do its work. This investigation needs to be a priority for the bank. Simply put, we cannot trust the IFC to be a responsible investor that deserves more money from donors until this investigation is complete and concrete recommendations are made to prevent something like this from occurring again.

In order to rebuild trust in the institution, the Bridge cover-up investigation must be robust. Crucially, it must be independent from IFC management so that it can effectively investigate these disturbing allegations. In a letter sent to the World Bank Group leadership in November, 35 civil society organizations around the world — including my own — detailed what it would mean for such an investigation to be thorough. Our recommendations included investigation into alleged retaliation against CAO staff, and whether material that was critical of IFC and Bridge was unjustifiably removed from the Ombudsman’s report. Additionally, investigators must have access to all relevant documents and to IFC staff and other stakeholders.

Read the full article on Triple Pundit here.