Uganda: Abuse of Social Media Forcing Govt to Filter Content, Says ICT Minister

Kabarole — The minister for Information and Communications Technology and National Guidance, Mr Frank Tumwebaze has said the increasing public abuse of social media is forcing the hands of government to regulate the use of the platforms.

Speaking at the 51 celebrations of the World’s Communication Day at Virika Parish, Fort Portal Diocese in Fort Portal Municipality on Sunday, Mr Tumwebaze said there is need to filter social media content that the public posts on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.

“In other countries such as UK, everything that goes on air is first filtered but here in Uganda we have not reached that, but we need to be ambassadors of our information,” Mr Tumwebaze said.

He said some people have taken advantage of such platforms to terrorise the country and warned such users to desist and use the new innovations to transform the country.

Mr Tumwebaze who asked the public to be security conscious of cybercrimes, rallied Ugandans to register their SIM cards before August 30 as his ministry and Uganda Communication Commissions will switch off all subscribers who will fail to register or verify their SIM cards.

He warned that there won’t be any more extension after the three month’s grace period allowed for subscribers to register. Fort Portal Dioceses Bishop Robert Muhirwa, expressed concern on misuse of social media platforms to spread pornographic information to the public and asked the government regulate such content.

“Somebody used my name on Facebook and started asking people for money allegedly for helping needy people, and this is wrong. Government should help us” Bishop Muhirwa said.

To mark the World’s Communications Day, Pope Francis asked the media users to be objective and help their nations through spreading good news since bad news disorganises communities.

Why Day is celebrated

World Communications Day was declared by Pope Paul VI in 1967 as an annual celebration that encourages reflection on the opportunities and challenges that the modern means of social communication, including the press, motion pictures, radio, television and the internet, afford the Church to communicate messages of the Gospel.

This year’s World’s Communications Day was celebrated under the theme; “Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

Source : The Monitor(Kampala)

Uganda: Fresh Torture Accusations Leveled Against Uganda’s Police

Press Release

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Last week, Uganda’s police were – again – accused of torturing suspects to illicit confessions. First, defendants charged in the murder of police commander Andrew Kaweesi had visible injuries during their court appearance. They complained in court of being beaten in Nalufenya police station in Jinja, Eastern Uganda. Then, photos leaked of the hospitalized mayor of Kamwenge, who had horrific injuries including gaping wounds on his knees and ankles, which he said resulted from beatings by police who were investigating the same murder.

The ensuing police denials ring hallow.

Over the last 15 years, Human Rights Watch has interviewed hundreds of Ugandans who say they were tortured by police, specifically by a string of units which have changed name and location over the years, but whose brutality repeats itself over and over again. First, Operation Wembley in Clement Hill, then Violent Crimes Crack Unit in Kireka, then Rapid Response Unit, also in Kireka and now the Special Investigations Division, at times assisted by staff from the Flying Squad, in Nalufenya. Scores of victims across Uganda have described nearly identical treatment during interrogations, including beatings on the joints with batons over several days, at times while handcuffed in stress positions with their hands under their legs. All of this units have defied laws regulating arrest and detention with no consequences.

In December 2011, General Kayihura, the inspector general of the Uganda Police Force, disbanded Rapid Response Unit, in part due to human rights violations by its officers. But without investigations into those violations and prosecutions of those responsible, the very same officers have continued to commit abuses as part of a new unit, with a new name. The lack of investigations and failure to remove abusive officers from police ranks, despites decades of allegations, only reinforces the problem – that Uganda’s police too often rely on forced confessions. They beat suspects to bypass the tough work of carefully investigating crimes and gathering credible evidence that could stand up to scrutiny in court.

Uganda’s police leadership need to stop facile denials that torture festers in Uganda’s police cells, and particularly nowadays, in Nalufenya. Police should take suspects’ allegations seriously, investigate officers for torture and mistreatment, and work with prosecutors to finally bring charges under Uganda’s never-used Anti Torture Act. Officers who commit torture should be removed from police ranks. Police shouldn’t be allowed to commit crimes while seeking to fight them.

Maria Burnett is the Director, East Africa and the Horn.

Source : Human Rights Watch(Washington DC)

Uganda: Councillor Ssegirinya Holds ‘Salt’ Prayers to Curse Middle East Employers

Jocular Kawempe North Kampala Capital City Authority councillor Muhammad Ssegirinya has today perfected the ‘bush prayers’, a tradition started by his comrade-in-comical politics Mubarak Munyagwa (FDC, Kawempe South MP).

In an early morning video, Mr Ssegirinya is seen in the company of other individuals wearing the traditional Muslim men head gear, absorbed in prayers cursing tormentors of Uganda’s overseas labourers.

Mr Munyagwa controversially made the infamous “edduwa ya Kamulali,” translated to mean the hot pepper supplication, where he burnt the choking plant, praying amid the fuming smoke.

His student Mr Ssegirinya has instead replaced pepper with salt, asking God to descend his wrath on the Arab employers whom he accuses of torturing Ugandan employees.

Recently, Mr Ssegirinya claimed to have travelled to the United Arab Emirates, where he commiserated with Ugandans he said are under-going extreme abuse and exploitation.

When Mr Munyagwa said his hot pepper sprayer last year, it earned him a shouting match with the Kibuli based Muslim establishment spokesperson Sheikh Nooh Muzaata.

Mr Ssegirinya organized his controversial prayer to coincide with the International Labour day celebrations, which he said was unnecessary to celebrate in Uganda given what he termed as the suffering endured by Uganda’s workers in Middle East.

Dr Abdulhafiz Walusimbi, a Sharia expert at the Islamic University in Uganda dismissed Mr Ssegirinya’s duwa as having no legal basis in Islam.

“Such kinds of duwa are not acceptable in Islam because the Prophet Muhammad’s way of supplication was very normal, this salt duwa has no legal basis in Islam,” he said.

He added that the method employed by the cheeky politician is “intimidating but illegal.”

The acting chairperson of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA), Ms Lillian Keene Mugerwa, recently told the Parliamentary Committee on Gender that up to 65,000 Ugandans are doing odd jobs in the Middle East.

This is 15,000 higher than the number that was working there one year ago.

Most of them are working as either cleaners, waiters/waitresses, drivers, tailors, construction and factory workers or security guards.

“Their annual contribution in the form of remittances is $400,000,” said Ms Mugerwa.

Unemployment

Due to unemployment in Uganda, some of the Ugandans now working in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, sold family property to finance their travel to the Middle East.

Many Ugandans have been made to believe that the ‘returns’ there would be higher than they would ever make in Uganda.

In January 2016, the government banned the export of maids. The ban came on the heels of reports that many Ugandan workers were being mistreated by their Saudi Arabian employers.

According to Action Aid (2012), six in every 10 Ugandans are unemployed. Some lack the skills employers need. In other cases, the economy is not expanding as fast as the labour force.

Uganda: As Museveni Critic Remains in Jail, Govt On the Spot Over Rights

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As the magistrate court at Buganda Road resumes hearing of cases against Stella Nyanzi on Monday April 25, focus is likely to extend to the declining state of fundamental rights in Uganda and that of the Constitutional Court.

Its wheels have yet to move on a petition filed nearly 15 months ago challenging sections of the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) against which she is being charged for harassing and offending President Yoweri Museveni.

Dr Nyanzi, a social researcher at Makerere University was kidnapped by unknown people on the night of Friday, April 7, around the headquarters of the Internal Security Organisation.

She was addressing a Rotary fellowship at a nearby hotel.

A day later Police acknowledged it was holding her.

When she appeared in court on Monday April 10, Dr Nyanzi’s charge sheet indicated two counts of cyber harassment and offensive communication contrary to Sections 24 (1 and 2a) and 25 of the CMA enacted in 2011, that had been drawn two weeks earlier on March 23 and sanctioned by the Director of Public Prosecutions on March 27, weeks before her arrest.

The court remanded her to Luzira Maximum Security Prison for 14 days.

Section 25 in particular, which is about offensive communication, is a subject of a constitutional petition filed on February 3, 2016 by Andrew Karamagi and Robert Shaka.

The charges against Dr Nyanzi were first drawn on March 23, 2017 and sanctioned four days later. They followed hours-long interrogation on March 7, 2016.

Dr Nyanzi, who uses expletives, allegedly insulted Museveni on her Facebook page by calling him “a pair of buttocks” on January 28.

But a review of her timeline shows she posted nothing at all on that said day.

Besides being the butt of all jokes, the charges have continued to draw widespread condemnation across the country and beyond its borders.

Most recently on Wednesday, April 19, Amnesty International demanded her immediate release, saying she was a “prisoner of conscience, held solely for exercising her right to freedom of expression.”

“Her continued detention and prosecution violate Uganda’s obligations under the country’s constitution and international human rights law regarding the rights to liberty and freedom of expression,” read its call to action; a mechanism through which it mobilises global attention.

That Dr Nyanzi and her lawyers were surprised with a government application to subject her to a sanity test after her first appearance in court is only helping attract more scrutiny and interest on the trial and its associated human rights issues.

Source : The East African

Uganda: Labour Exports to Middle East Up By 15, 000

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Kampala — Up to 65, 000 Ugandans are doing odd jobs in the Middle East, the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA) says.

This is 15, 000 higher than the number that was working there one year ago.

Most are working as either cleaners, waiters/waitresses, drivers, tailors, construction and factory workers or security guards.

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“Their annual contribution in the form of remittances is $400, 000,” the acting chairperson of the UAERA, Lillian Keene Mugerwa, told the House Committee on Gender, on Wednesday.

The committee had summoned the 63-member association to brief the committee on its business.

“Due to unemployment in Uganda, some of the Ugandans now working in countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, sold family property to finance their flights to the Middle East,” she said.

“Many were made to believe that the ‘returns’ there would be higher than they would ever make in Uganda.”

The government in January 2016 banned the export of maids.

The ban came on the heels of reports that many were being mistreated by their Saudi Arabian employers.

Ms Mugerwa, who was accompanied by the Managing Director of Middle East Consultants Gordon Mugyenyi, the MD of Magrib Agencies Ltd Catherine Ocen Ssabwe and the General Manager of Horeb Services Ezra Mugisha, urged the government to lift the ban on the export of maids.

They said the ban is not serving the purpose.

“The ban was put into place without taking into account the fact the majority of the workers that were complaining [of mistreatment] had been deployed by [human] traffickers,” Ms Mugerwa said.

“The few licensed companies…stopped. But as we stopped, the traffickers continued to export people to Saudi Arabia. When Saudi Arabia stopped the influx, the traffickers are now taking maids to Oman.”

Serere Member of Parliament, Patrick Okabe, concurred with the recruitment agencies and said the ban should be lifted.

“If we maintain the ban, people will find alternatives,” Mr Okabe said.

Ms Beatrice Anywar, the vice chairperson of the Gender committee called on government should address the reasons that drive Ugandans abroad.

According to Action Aid (2012), six in every ten Ugandans are unemployed.

Some lack the skills employers need.

In other cases, the economy is not expanding as fast as the labour force.

Source : The Monitor

Uganda: Court Orders Facebook to Delete TVO’s ‘Defamatory’ Posts Against Lawyer Muwema

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The High Court in Ireland has accepted global social media giant Facebook’s plea to conceal self-styled social media activist Tom Voltaire Okwalinga (TVO)’s identity arguing that revealing it to one of Uganda’s senior lawyers, Mr Fred Muwema would put his life in danger and expose him to harassment from the government.

The decision contained in a landmark judgment delivered on Wednesday is the result of a protracted legal battle between Mr Muwema and Facebook after the outspoken lawyer sued the social media powerhouse following TVO’s controversial claims that he had pocketed Shs900 million delivered by former information and national guidance minister Jim Muhwezi to stage manage a break in at his chambers in Kololo so the state could tamper with critical evidence of his client and former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi who contested President Museveni’s February 2016 election.

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In the decision, Mr Justice Binchy holds, “It is somewhat difficult for the court to make an assessment as to the extent of the danger that would be posed to TVO if his identity is revealed. It is fair to say however that there is consistency in the reports of Freedom House and US Department of State Human Rights Report on Uganda as well as Amnesty International all of which express concern about the freedom of expression and assembly.” Seeking to balance the need to hand over TVO to Mr Muwema “so he can protect his good name” by way of a defamation suit, the court took to protecting the safety of TVO given the history of Uganda’s human rights transgressions.

The judge however, in the last paragraph of the 26 page judgment clarified this was on condition that Facebook asks TVO to pull down the defamatory content 14 days from the delivery of the judgment lest Mr Muwema makes a fresh application to the court to have his identity revealed.

“I will do so on a conditional basis, the defendant has the means to communicate with TVO. TVO should be notified that unless the offending postings are removed within 14 days from the date of delivery of this judgment, then the plaintiff will be entitled to renew his application for Norwich Pharmacal relief which will be duly granted. The defendant should notify TVO forthwith,” he held.

A Norwich Pharmacal order is a court directive for the disclosure of documents or information.

In an earlier order in a supplementary decision delivered by the court on July 29, 2016, the subject of a written judgment dated August 23, 2016, the judge denied Mr Muwema some orders that would have had the effect of taking down TVO’s postings concerning him but ordered Facebook to reveal his identity so the lawyer could sue him from Uganda for defamation.

It is against this backdrop that Facebook moved fast and protested the order on December 21, laying evidence of gross human rights violations by Uganda and previous requests by Uganda Communications Commission to Facebook to hand over TVO to the Ugandan state.

Mr Jack Gilbert, the lead litigation counsel of Facebook in an August 19 affidavit asserted, “In my role, I receive hundreds of legal claims each year which comprise dozens of Norwich Pharmacal relief or basic subscriber information. Because Facebook is not a publisher, its general position is that any complaints regarding content should be directed to the relevant user that posted the content.”

In this particular case however, the judge noted, Facebook did not oppose the order to have its subscriber’s identity revealed only to turn around and raise the issue of TVO’s safety later.

Mr Muwema had told the court in his affidavit that whereas Uganda has challenges with human rights, “it is alarmist to paint a picture of unmitigated violations of human rights and lawlessness in Uganda.”

His affidavit was however replied by human rights lawyer and former secretary general of the Uganda Law Society Mr Nicholas Opiyo who on January 18 swore, “I know that Uganda Police have been looking for TVO for a very long time and when they arrest anyone on suspicion of being TVO, they are subjected to extreme abuse of rights and violation of court orders.” He added, “I have observed the use of trumped up charges to intimidate those critical of the person of the president. Kizza Besigye, his biggest political rival has been charged over 100 times on trumped up charges. He spends most of his time traversing the country answering a litany of charges.” It is this affidavit that the court used to guide itself in the decision. Facebook now has 14 days to ensure TVO deletes the defamatory content against Mr Muwema or else the court will allow his application for revelation of his identity.

Source : The Monitor

Africa: Get Rich or Die Trying – the Chinese Multinational Scamming Millions From Ugandans

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Thousands of people in Uganda have signed up to a company believing it will cure all their illnesses and help them make a fortune. It is more likely to do the opposite.

This article is republished here to coincide with the new documentary Uganda’s Health Pyramid, aided by African Arguments, into the company TIENS in Uganda. The film, made by Banyak, will be available on AlJazeera from 1st February 2017. The article below was originally published on Think Africa Press (now defunct) in 2014. As the documentary shows, not much has changed.

On the corner of a bumpy, red-soil road in the rural town of Iganga in eastern Uganda, there lies a small store. A handful of people mill around the entrance in the glaring sun, waiting their turn to enter. They are the main source of activity on this placid street, but their patient presence barely betrays the hubbub within.

Inside, almost a dozen people sit crammed on makeshift benches around two edges of the stifling room. Most of the remaining space is taken up by a shop counter, behind which are shelves piled high with vibrantly-coloured health products covered in Chinese characters.

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A couple of customers compete with a baby wailing as they read out lists of products to the shop attendants who pick them off the shelves. Every now and then, the door in the corner opens. Someone steps out, usually holding a piece of paper, and the person sitting closest steps in.

Beyond that doorway is an even smaller room, windowless and illuminated by a single light. As I peer in, three people are undergoing diagnostic tests, a woman is standing on a machine that hums loudly as it vibrates, and a few more patients are waiting slumped along the wall.

Wasswa Zziwa Edrisa – or “Doctor Wasswa” as he is known here – stands in the centre wearing a fresh, chequered shirt on his back and an unwavering grin on his face. With the easy charm of a seasoned salesman and the swaggering self-assurance of Uganda’s national bird and symbol, the crested crane, Wasswa welcomes me in.

“I will show you how we help so many people,” he says, beaming. “Let me show you the machines.”

“This is one of the scanners,” he explains, pointing to a piece of kit that looks a bit like a 1970s radio. “It shows everything. We can see if you have diabetes, kidney deficiencies, liver problems, eye problems. Everything.”

Wasswa explains that the test works using a traditional Chinese understanding of the body whereby different points of the hand relate to different internal organs. We watch as an attendant prods a patient’s left palm with a metal tip, making a little meter light up. When the light goes green, he explains, it means that part of the body is fine, but if it goes orange it indicates a problem.

Next Wasswa points me to the corner where a woman is standing on a small machine and holding onto a pair of handlebars to which she is harnessed. Her whole body blurs in the dim light as the platform beneath her vibrates rapidly, its droning buzz filling the room.

Similar machines can be found in many gyms these days and are meant to help tone muscle, but the uses Wasswa presents are quite different.

“This is a blood circulation massager,” he announces. “You see how she sweats. It opens the vessels and deals with paralysis. It helps people with stroke.”

Wasswa then shows me another diagnostics machine, this one connected to a laptop. As the patient holds on to an appliance plugged into the computer, pictures of different organs flash up on the screen for a few seconds each as a dial next to it oscillates erratically. After a minute, a one-page document pops up, listing how well his organs are functioning.

In the airless room, Wasswa runs through a few more devices – a face pain remover, a blood pressure reducer, a necklace that removes radiation – before squeezing past bodies and chairs to get back to the first patient we met. By now his diagnostic test is complete. He tells me that he came to the store because of some mild pain around his mouth, but Wasswa breaks the news that there are more serious things about which he ought to be concerned.

“Ah, he has a problem with his spleen,” says Wasswa, nodding knowingly. “At times, he gets constipation and some swelling in the legs and arms. There is also some paralysis in the legs. He gets headaches. At times he feels dizziness. His brain arteries need to be detoxified. He has kidney deficiencies. He has bad chest pain. He has high cholesterol. He has poor circulation. And he has problems with his stomach.”

The roster of the young and healthy-looking patient’s conditions seems extreme, but Wasswa is not perturbed.

“He needs to improve his circulation by using our machines and he will need to take our products. If he uses them, he will be fine,” he reassures.

Back in the light and noise of the waiting-room-cum-pharmacy, Wasswa shows me some of these products. He picks goods off the shelves, ranging from capsules to toothpastes to body creams, and stacks them on the counter as he explains what they each do. “This takes away all the radiation in your body. This helps with diabetes. This treats ulcers. This is for slimming. This adds more white blood cells to your system. This is for people who are mentally disturbed,” he says.

“These medicines are good for everything,” he concludes finally, the pile of products on the counter now complete. “If you have cancer, we can help. If you have HIV, we can help. Even if you have a hernia or a tumour or appendicitis, you just take our products and they will disappear.”

This small store in eastern Uganda employs a handful of staff and, according to Wasswa, receives dozens of patients each day. Wasswa is also frequently heard on local radio advertising his services and has made quite a name for himself in the area. He was previously a school teacher and says his parents were “peasants”, but now, in his 30s, he is anything but. These days, Wasswa drives a shiny four-wheel drive, wears sharp suits and even goes on jet-setting trips around the world. All this makes him quite the exception in Iganga, but across Uganda, this young ‘doctor’ is by no means a solo pioneer and his store is by no means unique.

Similar stores can found all across the country, from Kasese in the west to Soroti in the east, and from Gulu in the north to Entebbe in the south. There are four such outlets in Kampala alone. These stores offer the same diagnostic tests, stock the same range of products, and above all their doors, there hangs the same innocuous green and orange sign which reads: “TIENS: Together We Share Health And Wealth.”

TIENS – also known as Tianshi – is a multinational company based 10,000 miles away in the Chinese metropolis of Tianjin. It was founded in 1995 by Li Jinyuan, who has since become a billionaire from the venture. The company has established branches in 110 countries including 16 in Africa, employs over 10,000 staff globally, and reportedly enjoys net profits worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

TIENS first began tapping into the Ugandan market in 2003 and it has grown steadily ever since. There are now around 30 stores across the country, TIENS distributors regularly engage in outreach programmes to rural communities, and according to the company’s national chairperson, Kibuuka Mazinga Ambrose, TIENS-Uganda has an annual turnover of around $6 million.

The company has even bought the most prominent advertising spot on the Health Ministry’s official calendar, a particularly brazen move given that none of its outlets are registered health facilities.

Patients who come to TIENS seek help for a whole range of conditions – from malaria to paralysis – but they tend to tell similar stories of how they arrived here. Typically, they say that they first went to public facilities (some told me they had even visited two or three), but were either not seen to or found the treatment ineffective. TIENS is almost always a last resort. But in a country whose healthcare infrastructure is riddled with chronic problems and which, by some measures, ranks as one of the worst in the world, the last resort is often one that needs to be taken.

In many areas of Uganda, public health facilities are virtually inaccessible, while those who do manage to reach them may find their walls crumbling, their clinics under-staffed, and their shelves bereft of drugs. Although the government has promised to invest more in the sector, much of the country’s healthcare infrastructure is in decay. Doctors and nurses are over-worked and underpaid, and although services are meant to be free, in reality patients face many hidden costs.

In this context, stores like Wasswa’s – with its quick turnaround, attentive staff and fully-stocked shelves – offer an appealing alternative. The always conclusive diagnostic tests are highly convenient; attendants’ claims about the healing powers of TIENS products may well be reassuring; and many patients say the fact the medicines travelled thousands of miles from China suggest they must work.

Many customers who use TIENS products also insist that they do work.

On the Friday morning after my tour of Wasswa’s clinic, the courtyard next to the outlet is packed. Over a hundred people sit on plastic chairs facing forwards while latecomers lean against the back wall. A red tarpaulin sheet shields the crammed attendees from the sun and gives the whole atmosphere an eerie pink hue.

‘Doctor Julius’, a man in his late-30s with an intense glare and impatient demeanour, stands at the front. He has just finished explaining the healing powers of TIENS toothpaste – which as well as cleaning teeth, can be used to treat ulcers, angina and skin problems amongst many other conditions – and he invites attendees who have used the product to give testimony. Four hands go up immediately.

“I had terrible problems with my teeth,” says the first speaker. “I went to see doctors but a new tooth had to be uprooted every week. When I started to use TIENS toothpaste, the pain went away.”

The next patient tells a very similar story before two mothers relay how the toothpaste cleared up their respective children’s skin rashes and burns.

Every now and then over the next few hours, many more attendees are invited to recount their experiences of using TIENS products. We hear how a man with back pain can now walk, how another man was cured of vertigo, and how a woman’s child was once bed-ridden but is now running around. At one point, Wasswa looks particularly pleased as a mother tells of how her young son – who she had taken to three separate public healthcare facilities before he was cured of cerebral malaria by TIENS – now wants to change his name to ‘Doctor Wasswa’.

“You see, these products work,” Wasswa announces after one of the testimonies. “At hospitals, they will ask you how you feel, but here, we tell you how you feel. At hospitals, they treat signs and symptoms. Here, we treat causes. At hospitals, they give you medicines made from chemicals which are harmful and can give you ulcers. Here, we use herbal medicines which have no side-effects.”

“This is real,” he continues. “This is Chinese herbal medicine based on 5,000 years of traditional medicine and it works.”

In Kampala, I test this out for myself. I visit a couple of the company’s stores, nestled in the city centre’s endless bustling plazas, and in one of them, managed by an intense man named Frank, I get tested.

Frank, the self-declared “best in the business” at doing diagnostic tests, seems thrilled at my presence and bundles me across to the end of the room. He sits me down and pulls across a thin curtain to give us a modicum of privacy from the handful of waiting patients. He takes out a battered looking hand-held device, pushes a 9-volt battery into its back and plugs a wire into it that branches into two metal tips. He gives me one of the electrified points to hold in my right hand and says he will use the other to press points on my left palm. With a grave look on his face, Frank instructs me to tell him when I feel a tingling. This seems to be a more basic version of the first test I’d seen in Iganga.

To begin with, I report whenever I feel something, which is every single time the tip touches my hand, completing the basic electric circuit. Frank nods excitedly when I do so and explains that I have a serious problem in whichever part of my body he is testing. After a while, however, I decide to stop reporting every time I feel a tingling. Frank lets me get away with one, but after that he frowns when I stay silent and simply keeps the metal point on my hand until I give in, sometimes rubbing my hand and even licking the metal tip if I am being particularly resistant.

In the end, Frank writes out a list of around 25 health conditions including “liver disorder,” “STROKE,” and “enteric fever [aka severe typhoid],” and prescribes a roster of products that comes to over USH 1 million ($400).

Before committing to his costly regimen, I decide to get a second opinion.

In the bright, clean reception of Beijing Clinic, a private health facility in Kampala, I relate my experience to a young Ugandan doctor, who trained and qualified in China, specialising in traditional Chinese medicine. The doctor, who prefers not to be named, laughs as I explain the machines I saw in Iganga and the test I underwent in Kampala. “No machine can test all those things like they claim,” he says.

Next, I show him the TIENS Information Guide, a booklet from which it seems Julius and Wasswa get most of their information. On page 3 of the booklet, a short disclaimer warns: “Tianshi Company does not make any medical claims whatsoever.” However, the next 60 pages are filled with bold declarations about the powers of its products and instructions on how to treat different diseases.

“Whatever this is, it is not Chinese medicine,” says the Chinese-trained doctor with a combination of amusement and incredulity. He chuckles as he reads how TIENS medicines are supposed to treat about a dozen different conditions each, from preventing cancer to reversing impotence to promoting “the growth of children’s reproductive organs.”

However, the doctor’s amusement soon turns to horror as he reaches the section of the booklet advising distributors on what steps to take when patients are suffering from different diseases. TIENS customers are typically encouraged to undergo diagnostic tests in store, but most who go to TIENS have previously been to hospital and know some of the conditions from which they are suffering. The company guide offers clear and easy instructions on what they should be prescribed.

Of the few hundred conditions listed – which span from AIDS to Yellow Fever – a handful include the recommendation to ‘see a doctor’. But the rest just list a few products to be taken.

“This is a death sentence,” mutters the doctor, falling silent.

One of the most repeated claims by TIENS distributors is that because the products are ‘herbal’, they have no side-effects. This assertion is used to elevate them above Western medicines, which they say are made from chemicals and so can be harmful, but the claim is also used to suggest that there are no dangers involved in taking them.

“Even if I tell you to swallow one and you swallow four, there will be no problems,” Wasswa had insisted. But when put to the Chinese-trained doctor in Beijing Clinic, he just shakes his head. “That is a flat out lie,” he says.

He recalls that last year, he was consulted by police after a man suffering from kidney problems died suddenly from liver failure. A toxicology report found that he had had a toxic overdose and it was suggested that the TIENS supplements the patient had been taking without his doctor’s knowledge had either caused additional problems or reacted badly with other medicines. The man’s family could not afford to get a more detailed medical report, however, and declined to take the matter further.

At another private clinic in Kampala, Dr Wen, a highly-regarded practitioner with three decades experience, is similarly concerned. “This is not medicine,” he says, “but it is still dangerous. Everything has side-effects. Even herbal medicines and herbal supplements used wrongly can kill.”

I contacted Uganda’s Health Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, repeatedly for comment, but received no reply.

Apart from the story of the kidney patient, I didn’t come across other rumours of deaths, but cases of the products not working as miraculously as promised were easy to find. After all, TIENS products are not medicines. Some of the company’s goods have been registered with Uganda’s National Drugs Authority, but as ‘food & dietary supplements’. In fact, stories of TIENS products not fully working were even common amongst some of TIENS most ardent fans.

Back in Iganga, with the courtyard seminar over and Wasswa busy talking to a small circle of attendees eager to hear more, Sarah*, 25, moves towards the back of the courtyard closer to where I am sitting.

During the seminar, she had given testimony telling of how she’d taken her baby boy, who was suffering from sickle cell anaemia, to several hospitals before she came to TIENS. Many of those who told their stories directed them matter-of-factly at Julius or Wasswa, but Sarah had turned to face the crowd and spoken passionately as she’d explained how the products worked wonders.

Asked a few more questions after the symposium, however, her story reveals itself to be far less straightforward. It transpires that her son is still ill. So ill, in fact, that she recently quit her nursing job to look after him full-time. Sarah nevertheless insists that the TIENS medicines work and says the reason her son is still suffering is because his treatment is incomplete. She bought half the products the boy needs for a full recovery but is struggling to find the money to purchase the rest.

Robert, 30, tells a similar tale. He too claims to be a firm believer in the healing powers of TIENS, and acted as my translator throughout the seminar, seemingly on Wasswa’s instruction. Robert says that he came to TIENS with kidney problems and maintains the products worked where hospital treatments failed. Like Sarah’s son, however, he admits that he is still in pain. Firstly, he attributes this to the fact that his kidney treatment is incomplete; he too has had financial difficulties. Secondly, he explains that the TIENS diagnostic test revealed his kidneys are not his only problem; while his original condition may have improved, he now knows he is suffering from other conditions that need to be cured too.

Sarah and Robert reveal that they have each spent USH 460,000 ($180) on products so far, paying in instalments from what they could borrow or scrape together. Sarah says she needs USH 500,000 ($200) more to complete her son’s treatment, but doesn’t know where the money will come from given that she is now jobless and that the father of her son is in school. Robert says he needs around USH 200,000 ($80) more, but says that as a “peasant”, he too will struggle.

“I haven’t balanced it well,” he says, “but I hope it will balance out soon. I am still feeling pain.”

It is not a coincidence that Robert, Sarah and a few others who spoke to me had all purchased exactly USH 460,000 worth of products. Nor is it an inexplicable peculiarity that individuals with no reliable source of income had shelled out what little they had, and more, on TIENS products. After all, TIENS is more than just a supplier of health supplements.

In the symposium in Iganga, once Julius had waxed lyrical about various products, it was time for Wasswa to take over the stage to talk about another benefit of TIENS. Though not before Julius had the opportunity to rouse the crowd.

After finishing his demonstration of TIENS’ disease-curing sanitary pads, Julius put down the product and strolled ponderously along the front of the courtyard before turning to face the audience. “Tianshi!” he shouted suddenly. “Together we share!” came back the reply on cue, a hundred voices amplified by the concrete walls. “Tianshi!” Julius proclaimed a second time, a little louder. “One dream!” came the soaring response. “Tianshi!” yelled the doctor a third time. “The best of all!!” bellowed the crowd.

Next, Julius taught the audience a new trick. Since all points in ours palms relate to different internal organs, he explained, clapping stimulates the whole body and works as a kind of “first aid.” He held his hands apart and, together with the crowd, clapped out a rhythm that crackled across the courtyard. Julius explained that the louder you clap, the greater the benefits to your internal organs, before holding out his hands and going again. And again.

Finally, looking satisfied, Julius completed his session and handed over to Wasswa.

“TIENS is not just good for your health,” the salesman proclaimed, taking to the stage, “it is also good for your wealth. If you register with TIENS, they will start to pay you. You come here for treatment, but over time, you will start to get a salary.”

Over the next few minutes, Wasswa explained that this is what he had done and that he was not only receiving thousands of dollars every month now, but had been taken on international trips by the company, received huge cash bonuses and been given a brand new car.

“When you reach a certain level, you start earning,” he said. “And it does not matter if you have no qualifications or education. TIENS does not care if you are educated. TIENS only cares how many products you buy and how many people you recruit.”

Wasswa said these words with a weighty earnestness, but they were not news to half the courtyard. Robert, Sarah and many others around them – all recognisable by the golden lion-shaped badges they were wearing – were not just TIENS patients, but members and distributors already. They were here on Wasswa’s instructions to give testimony and help convince others to join too. For these returning members, TIENS is not just a medical supplier, but a livelihood, an investment, and a chance to follow in Wasswa’s jet-setting footsteps.

Sitting behind his desk at the TIENS-Uganda headquarters, located at the top of King Fahd Plaza on a busy street in Kampala, Kibuuka Mazinga Ambrose is delighted to explain how the business model works in more detail.

“Anyone can join,” says the company chairperson, wearing a bright yellow TIENS-branded cap. “All you need to do is pay a small initial fee of $20.” Once you have done this, you can buy products at wholesale prices and sell them on at a profit. However, this is just the start, he says. You don’t get rich by selling a few bottles of herbal supplements. Under TIENS’ model, there are eight ranks and you need to move up the levels to really start enjoying the benefits.

The first few levels can be reached simply by buying more products, which essentially brings with it a small discount on goods. However, to get to the bigger rewards, you need to start recruiting others. This way, you receive a commission whenever they make purchases and also get rewarded if they recruit their own followers.

The more people you recruit and the more they recruit in turn, the higher you move up the rankings, and soon you can just sit back and watch as the commissions roll in. Furthermore, once you’ve reached the 8-star level and keep growing your network, you will eventually become a Bronze Lion, then a Silver Lion, then a Gold Lion, and enjoy rewards of cash prizes, international trips, a brand new 4×4 car, a luxury yacht, a private jet, and finally a “Luxurious Villa Palace.”

“It’s all about growing your network; their success is your success,” says Ambrose cheerily. “TIENS does not care who you are. Anyone can do it, and there is no limit on what you can earn.”

As the TIENS Guide puts it, joining the company means: “You stop struggling financially,” there is “little risk of losing”, and “if you work for 5 years you can retire.”

According the company website, over 200,000 Ugandans have joined TIENS, eclipsing even the number of government school teachers in the country.

Given Uganda’s high rates of unemployment – youth unemployment is over 80% according to some estimates – the appeal of membership is clear to see. Decent jobs are scarce and rags-to-riches stories like Wasswa’s are even scarcer.

Furthermore, the company’s image is significantly helped by the Ugandan government. Not only does TIENS advertise on the Health Ministry’s calendar, but according to Wasswa, around ten MPs are members of the company and at the Iganga seminar, Stephen Wante, the mayor of Bugembe, made a guest appearance. In 2011 meanwhile, Vice-President Edward Ssekandi officiated a ceremony in which a distributor was awarded a car and organised for TIENS to donate some of its products to a government health centre. A photograph of the Ssekandi shaking hands with TIENS’ president also has pride of place on the company website.

However, despite all of TIENS’ promises of wealth and perceived legitimacy, actually making money from the scheme is virtually impossible. At the TIENS headquarters, where members can print out their balance sheets, many leave the office holding spreadsheets indicating that they are owed almost nothing, if anything at all. Meanwhile, back in Iganga, several members who had joined several months ago, attended every biweekly seminar, bought lots of products, and gone on recruitment drives, revealed that they had not earned any notable income either. It seems many others have also abandoned the scheme after finding they could not make it work.

According to most TIENS members – both those who are profiting and those who aren’t – the reason for these failures is simple: the individual did not work hard enough. When I asked Sarah why she thought she hadn’t made any money after being a member for five months, for example, she hesitated before Robert helpfully chipped in to say “it means she is not performing well.” Yet Robert had barely received any income either, despite having been a member for six months and having recruited nine people. Other members who had yet to make money also suggested their situation was down to bad luck or poor performance.

This feeling was perhaps most starkly expressed after the seminar as I spoke to Wasswa within earshot of three members, all of whom had been distributors for up to six months yet not come anywhere close to getting a decent income. I asked Wasswa how long it typically takes to break even. “Some people can take a month, but sometimes maybe two months,” he replied. What if someone has been working hard but hasn’t started getting an income after 6 months, I followed up. “Six months?” Wasswa exclaimed. “No, it’s rare. Very rare. If someone is serious, they should be on a high level and earning well after six months.”

I looked over at the three recruits who all just stared at the floor, looking sheepish and, I thought, ashamed.

The reality, however, is that failure under TIENS is not the individual’s fault. In fact, for the vast majority of members, the business model is designed to fail. TIENS in Uganda appears to be little more than thin-veiled pyramid scheme.

Recruiters emphasise that to join, all you need to do is pay a $20 membership fee. But in reality that is only the start. Members have to buy products to move up the rankings and then continue to buy goods to keep their accounts open.

Members could make money selling these products, but the idea of shifting all these goods is a non-starter. Not only does each distributor have to compete with 200,000 other sellers as well as 30 well-established stores, but it doesn’t even make economic sense for customers to buy from individual members when they could sign up to TIENS themselves and get much lower prices anyway.

This is perhaps why Wasswa and other recruiters barely even mention selling products and why the emphasis instead is very heavily on “growing your network.” The incentives for signing up new members are higher than those for sales; the training sessions teach recruits how to sell membership rather than goods; and the TIENS Guide’s main piece of practical advice is a 6-step plan of how to “make a name list of at least 100 in a shortest time possible.”

If not from selling products to the public then, the bulk of the money in the TIENS system comes members’ own pockets as they pay to join, pay to move up the rankings, and pay to keep their accounts open. And it is this same money that finances top-level distributors’ huge salaries, shiny new cars and trips around the world. Given all the money in the system comes from members, the only way this tiny elite profits is because the rest of Uganda’s 200,000 members do not.

TIENS refer to itself as a ‘multi-level marketing’, but in reality it seems to be an unsustainable and fraudulent pyramid scheme designed to extract money from the many to pay the salaries of a few.

I later contacted Ambrose, Wasswa and Jamba George, another 8-star recruiter, for their response to these allegations, but they all declined. The manager of TIENS-Uganda, a Chinese expatriate, and the company’s global headquarters in Tianjin did not make a comment either.

It should also be noted that TIENS is not just in Uganda, nor is it the only scheme of its kind. The American firms Forever Living and GNLD also deal in health supplements and follow a multi-level marketing model, while TIENS’ presence on the continent seems to be particularly strong in West Africa, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. It is further notable that TIENS has offices in many Western countries, though the products there seem to be marketed more directly as mere food supplements.

Back in the courtyard in Iganga, Robert is listing the products he was prescribed six months ago. Like so many others faced with Uganda’s struggling healthcare system, Robert ended up seeking alternatives and eventually ended up at Wasswa’s busy but welcoming clinic.

The products worked, Robert insists. Up to a point. He just wishes, he says, that he could finish the treatment and be fully cured of his kidney problems as well as the other health conditions detected by the diagnostic test he underwent. But he cannot afford it.

Robert has no other jobs – he says there are hardly any jobs available in the area – and has five children to support. When he joined the company half a year ago, he thought TIENS was the answer to all his prayers, but he is still in pain and deeper in debt.

“Money is a problem, he says. “It is not easy to recruit people and I spend USH12,000 ($5) every week on transport to come to these seminars.”

I ask him why he is still part of the company despite losing money each week. He pauses for a moment before answering, “I believe I will balance my accounts soon. And I am close to moving up to the next level when I will be able to earn more.”

He explains that a technical misunderstanding delayed him moving up a rank, but that it should be sorted out soon. I point out that even if he moves up a level and earns slightly more than now, he will still be earning a tiny fraction of what he has invested. He nods in agreement, but adds, with a faint smile, “But with TIENS, time is on your side.”

But what if it still doesn’t work out, I push. What if Wasswa is the exception that proves the rule? What if it never works out?

Robert looks me in the eye for a few seconds before gazing out across the courtyard where a few groups of attendees are still standing around chatting.

“If the money defeats me, ” he says quietly, turning back to me, “I will disappear.”

*Some names have been changed to protect interviewees’ identities.

James Wan is editor of African Arguments. He was an associate producer on the Aljazeera documentary Uganda’s Health Pyramid. He is a fellow of the China-Africa Reporting Project, managed by University of Witwatersrand.

Source : African Arguments

Uganda: Govt Failure to Generate Business Irks Parliament

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On Thursday, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah adjourned the House way before 6pm, the adjournment time stipulated in the rules, because the order paper had been largely exhausted.

After debate on the proposal to hire postgraduate medical students from Makerere College of Health Sciences to fill the staffing gaps in Mulago hospital and a statement on Cage Fishing on Lake Victoria by local and foreign investors, there was no substantial business to handle.

Another statement on water weed on Lake Kyoga by the Water minister capped what has for all intents and purposes been an unceremonious week at Parliament.

Voiced frustrations

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and her deputy Oulanyah have already voiced frustrations about the dilly-dallying by government to generate enough business to keep the 10th Parliament in busy session.

In September, Ms Kadaga was forced to send the House on recess because government, the principal producer of work, had failed to generate and table business for Parliament to work on.

Ms Kadaga had vowed to name and shame ministers who dodge Parliament proceedings and leave MPs with an empty front bench to respond to inquiries, but she has since adopted a soft stance.

A report that was compiled by the Clerk to Parliament detailing attendance of ministers was submitted to the Speaker, but Ms Kadaga on Tuesday informed the House that she will determine what action to take with the report.

Under rule 24(1) the Speaker is obliged to give priority to government business with private members’ business given the first two hours of a sitting on every Thursday. The government can generate business by tabling Bills, motions and resolutions. But government has been largely sleeping on the job.

Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa West), who has been acting Leader of Opposition, this week, on Wednesday asked the Prime Minister, also Leader of Government Business, why he has been offending Rule 27 which touches on the matter of House business.

Rule 27 (Statement of Business by Leader of Government Business) states that for every last sitting day of the week [Thursday], the Leader of Government Business shall make a statement in the House regarding the government business of the succeeding week.

Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has not presented any such statement in the 10th Parliament, leaving the Speaker and MPs second-guessing what business will be up for debate in the coming week.

The Prime Minister in response said government would propose amendments on Rule 27 to allow more legroom in the tabling of government business.

This rule was premised on the grounds that with MPs informed a week in advance of the pending business, they would have time to research and prepare before debate.

The Clerk to Parliament has also not been respectful of Rule 28 which provides that a weekly order paper, including relevant documents, shall be made and distributed to every member through his or her pigeon hole and where possible, electronically.

Sub section(2) indicates that where the relevant documents referred to in sub-rule (1) originate from a government department, sector or agency, the responsible minister shall avail to the clerk sufficient copies of the documents for distribution to members.

If these two rules were respected, it could also enrich the quality of debate in the House which Deputy Speaker Oulanyah is on record saying in the previous Parliament that the debate was so poor that he no longer bothered to read the Hansard, Parliament’s official record.

“You look at the quality of debate; look at the level of research. Someone just comes into the chambers and starts debating. I used to read the Hansard but I have stopped reading it. We miss the big picture in our debates,” Mr Oulanyah said in the 9th Parliament.

But as things stand, Kadaga and Oulanyah will have to adopt some radical measures to ensure that government and ministers give Parliament business the urgency and priority it deserves. The Speaker can start with naming and shaming absentee ministers.

Bribery claims

And as House authorities grapple with the issue of failure by government to generate business, Aringa South MP Alioni Odria added another spot of bother by dragging the image of Parliament into disrepute.

MP Odria is battling accusations that he tried to solicit a bribe from an accounting officer in return for protection during an appearance in the dreaded Public Accounts Committee.

In an emotive personal statement, Mr Odria denied ever soliciting a bribe, firing back that the accusations were intended to scare him off his ruthlessly approach in dealing with accounting officers with unreliable accountability.

Odria demanded an inquiry into the accusations to clear his name, a demand that the Speaker promised to rule on.

Accusations of MPs lining their pockets just can’t go away. Before the accusation against Odria came to light, Kilak North MP Anthony Akol had lifted the lid over underhand dealings where he claimed that MPs had been bribed with sugar and money to support the controversial motion by the Nakifuma County MP Robert Ssekitoleko seeking leave to prepare a Constitutional Amendments Bill.

It’s about time Ms Kadaga reined in on such tendencies before it’s too late.

Source : The Monitor(Uganda)

Uganda: Bridge Academies Closed for Teaching Pornography, Says Minister Kasaija

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Mpigi — The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija has revealed that Bridge International academies were closed recently because government suspected they were teaching pornography and the content related to lesbianism and homosexuality.

The Minister was speaking at the 22nd graduation ceremony of Uganda Martyrs’ University (UMU) at their main campus in Nkozi, Mpigi District on Thursday.

“We could not allow teaching sexual matters in public. Why teaching pornography in Bridge schools? This moral decay couldn’t be tolerated,” he said.

Minister Kasaija, also MP for Buyanja South added: “Instead of using schools to apply and promote sexual education, why don’t we go back to our traditional aunties (ssenga) and uncles (kojja)? Stop conveying the gospel of homosexuality to our children. You should stop and stop.”

Prof John Chrysostom Maviiri, the UMU Vice Chancellor asked government to prioritize education as an engine to achieve the middle income status.

A total of 1,069 graduates were conferred with certificates, diplomas, bachelors and masters degrees in various disciplines of which 639 were males and 430 were females.

UMU also offered academic awards to the best performing students in different disciplines for their outstanding work in class and examinations.

When contacted for a comment on the minister’s statement, Mr Solomon Sserwanja, the Public Relations Manager of Bridge International Academies said: “I think it is very unfortunate for the whole minister to make such a statement based on allegations. He should come out with proof over the matter in question.”

According to him, several government officials have visited the academies and looked at the text books they are using to teach but none of them have ever found evidence of such allegations.

“His (minister) statement is malicious and we will not take it lightly. We will explore all alternatives against him to proof the allegations. This is fighting quality education for the country. We were never given an ear to defend ourselves despite several letters we have written to authorities,” added Mr Sserwanja.

Uganda’s High Court early this month ordered the closure of 63 Bridge International Academies on grounds that the private schools provided unsanitary learning conditions, used unqualified teachers and were not properly licensed.

Bridge International, which claims to have 12,000 students in Uganda,said it would challenge the High Court ruling.

Source : The Monitor

Uganda: Teachers Seek to Follow Uganda and Ban UK-Backed Private Schools

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Nairobi — Push comes after Uganda court ruled to close chain of private schools due to poor sanitation and unlicensed teachers

Kenyan teachers want the government to ban a chain of low-cost private primary and nursery schools, backed by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Britain’s aid budget, after it faced criticism from a court in neighbouring Uganda for hiring unlicensed teachers.

Uganda’s high court on Friday ordered Bridge International Academies (BIA) to close 63 schools in the country for operating without a licence, having poor sanitation and for using unregistered and unlicensed teachers, the judgment said.

The company, founded by an American couple, started working in Uganda in 2015 after opening 405 schools in Kenya since 2009 that use an ‘Academy in a box’ model in which teachers read lessons from a tablet computer.

However, the fast-growing company has faced opposition from teachers unions in Kenya and Uganda, where it often hires staff who have not undergone government training to read scripted lessons, delivered via the internet.

“These academies should not be allowed to operate anywhere in third world countries,” said Wilson Sossion, secretary general of the Kenya National Union of Teachers, adding that his union will release a report criticising BIA in December.

“We want to believe that will open the eyes of the government of Kenya to move a step further to close down Bridge schools.”

Kenyan government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Low-cost private schools are expanding across the region, particularly in unplanned slums where there are not enough government schools.

Last year, the United Nations adopted an ambitious set of development goals, pledging to leave no one behind, including the 57 million children around the world who are not in primary school – most of them in Africa.

BIA, which aims to reach 10 million students by 2025, targets families that live on $2 per person per day, keeping its costs down through technology, standardised content and scale among other factors.

Tuition fees in Uganda range from 54,000 shillings ($15) to 108,000 shillings ($30) per term, depending on age and location.

GHOST TEACHERS

BIA has filed documents to appeal the Ugandan ruling, citing its adherence to government standards, BIA’s Expansion Director in Uganda, Andrew White, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Bridge is being singled out by other vested interests who fear the innovation and changes that Bridge could bring to the education sector,” White said.

Rates of teacher absenteeism are more than 25 percent in Kenya and Uganda and large sums are lost through the payment of ‘ghost’ teachers who do not exist, a 2013 report by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International said.

With BIA’s tech-based approach, teachers have to log in and out each day, cutting absenteeism to below two percent, White said.

“A teacher cannot be absent in our class,” he said. “A ghost can’t log in and can’t log out.”

BIA’s entrepreneurial approach has won it financial backing from Mark Zuckerberg and Pierre Omidyar, the wealthy founders of Facebook and eBay, as well as the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation.

But increased foreign investment in private sector schools, has been controversial, with campaigners calling for a greater focus on the right to free quality public education.

Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) has come under fire for investing $7.1 million of taxpayers’ money in BIA through its development finance arm, CDC, and the venture capital firm Novastar.

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child criticised DFID’s funding of private schools in July, saying it could contribute to substandard education and leave behind children who cannot afford even low-fee schools.

“Our priority is to ensure children in the world’s poorest countries get the education they deserve, regardless of whether the school is public or private,” a DFID spokesman said.

“When state provision is not delivering for the poorest, we work with low-cost privately run schools to provide an education to children who would otherwise get none.”

Source : Thomas Reuters Foundation