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Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos to open schools where 'the child will be the customer'

Margi Murphy

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos plans to open and fund nursery schools in low income areas, promising that poor children would be treated like Amazon customers.

Mr Bezos, who is the world's richest person with a net worth of $164bn (£125bn), said: “We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer.”

Along with running Amazon the tech mogul owns space exploration company Blue Origin and the Washington Post newspaper.

However, he has recently said he is looking to use his wealth for philanthropy, following in the footsteps of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. He has put aside an initial $2bn to fund the Day 1 initiative, which will also assist homeless families.

Mr Bezos said his fund will launch “Montessori-inspired” nurseries in low income areas as well as supporting homeles families.

Mr Bezos singled out a homeless charity in Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered, that has the policy that “no child sleeps on the street”. More families in the United States are homelessness than any other developed nation, figures suggest.

Recent studies indicate that one one night in January 2017, over half a million people were living without a roof over their heads. 

Mr Bezos' tweet announcing the donation received mixed reaction on social media, with many pointing out that Amazon pays a light tax bill in the countries it operates and alleging that workers were underpaid.

The recently completed Amazon Spheres building in Seattle, where the company is headquartered Credit: Reuters

Several reports have critiqued Amazon’s low wages for workers in its global distribution plants, where items are packaged and shipped for delivery. Employees in Amazon’s British and American “fulfillment centres” have complained of long hours without breaks.

The company halved its corporation tax bill to $4.5bn in the UK despite tripling profits. Amazon said that it had paid all that was “required”. Its UK operations manager insisted that it would be creating 2,500 jobs in the UK going forward. 

Amazon has already made inroads into the education sector in the UK, inking a five-year £600m deal to sell office supplies and medical equipment to schools, emergency services and local government across Yorkshire in August.