Singer Akon backs Liberia schools' partnership with firm

Senegalese-American hip-hop star Akon is endorsing Liberia's plan to outsource oversight of its primary education system to a Kenya-based for-profit company, a decision that some local educators have denounced.

This West African nation six months ago unveiled plans to allow Bridge International Academies to write curricula and train teachers. Some Liberian educators say this small country of about 4 million should focus on improving salaries and not cede control of schools to outsiders.

But Liberian officials argue that radical reforms are needed. In 2013, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described the education system as "a mess" after all 25,000 students failed...