April 19, 2018

Live blog: how partnerships can help to tackle global education crisis

Students in a third grade classroom share a textbook during a lesson in Burkina Faso

Photo credit: GPE Kelley Lynch

A  high-level event hosted by the Global Business Coalition for Education in Washington brings together leading figures and organisations. 

Hundreds of millions of children and young people around the world are facing a bleak future - unless decisive action is taken NOW.

By the year 2030 half of them will not have the skills they need for employment. Many will never have started school or will drop out. And huge numbers of young people will get such a poor education they won't get even the most basic qualifications.

For children living in disadvantaged communities and areas of conflict and crisis, the impact will be even greater.

Many organisations and leading figures are using their knowledge and experience to help tackle this global learning crisis. They include the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education), which is hosting an event today in Washington, DC, that will focus on innovative financing opportunities for education and how diverse partnerships can deliver better results for children and youth around the world. 

The event is being held against the backdrop of the 2018 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington.

This blog will bring you the highlights of Innovative Partnerships and Financing: Making Education Work for the Next Generation, which starts at 8am local time.

Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of GBC-Education and President of the children’s charity Theirworld, opens the event. She tells how GBC-Education brings together 140 companies in a network to accelerate progress on global education – and several dozen of them are here today.

Today’s event has three main themes - education in emergencies, the future of work for young people and new opportunities for financing.

She says: “When these events started five years ago, our goal was to make the case for the business community to engage in education. But today we no longer need to make the case - we need to build these partnerships, make them stronger and find new ways to innovate as we aspire to achieve education for all.”

Sarah outlines the advances made in the past year. They include:

  • Donors, business and governments are more engaged in global education than ever before.
  • The Global Partnership for Education had a record replenishment of funds at its conference in February. GBC-Education is now leading business engagement on the board of GPE. 
  • The Education Cannot Wait Fund has been set up for education in emergencies.
  • United Nations agencies UNESCO, UNESCO, UNHCR and UNRWA are all increasing their work on education.

Sarah introduces keynote speaker Amina Mohammed, the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General and a pioneer of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Amina Mohammed, Sarah Brown and Kristalina Georgieva at the GBC-Education event

She says: “We are not just talking about the future generation - there are a couple of generations who have not had an education.

“We require stronger partnerships and a focus on our children, our youth and our women. It can be sorted and there are many opportunities for us to show the way forward.

“The business community has a huge role to play - and that’s why you’re here today."

Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, introduces the next main speaker - Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank.

He says: “She is passionate, she is determined, she is absolutely committed.”

Kristalina Georgieva says: “Most of the wealth of the world is us - people. Two-thirds of the wealth of the planet are people. The richer you are the higher the percentage. 

"This makes the case for investing in people - skills, health, the way they productively contribute to their health to their communities, families, countries.

"At the World Bank, we are committed to putting money where it makes the biggest difference. Getting kids in school is a very good thing - but not enough. We are committed to innovate financially - to find solutions that were not there before but will make things happen.”

The next section of today's event is a panel discussion on innovation - moderated by Tom Fletcher, former UK Ambassador to Lebanon and now an advisor to GBC-Education.

First to speak is Nikolai Astrup, Minister for Development in Norway, which has been a leader in global education and the Education Cannot Wait fund. He says: “We need to increase the quality of education. New technology can really help us succeed in leaving no one behind.”

David Boutcher, partner at the law firm Reed Smith, is asked how the private sector can make more of an impact in global education. 

He says: “Technology companies can do so much more. Helping education in developing countries should bring us together - there is a global objective here. We need to encourage businesses to have people who are specifically responsible for education.”

The panellists at today's GBC-Education event in Washington

Tom asks Ulla Tørnæs, Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation, about the role of the various global actors in working together, particularly in emergencies. She says: “Education is the key to freedom. For nations, for the world, it’s the key to prosperity and peace. We must do this and can do this.”

Sigrid Kaag, the Netherlands’ Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, says: “There is a growing number of young people who are lost - so we need to look at the type of training that works for them, especially girls. We need to create role models in each and every community.”

Sarah Anyang Agbor, a Commissioner at the African Union, is asked about the prediction that half of all young people will not have the skills they need for the future jobs market. 

She says: “Over 65% of our population are youth, these youth need to be given the right kind of skills. Without skills, there is no employment. There are job seekers and no job creators. To be job creators, they need skills.” 

Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, tells the business leaders in the room: “Help us make the case about why it is important to move from philanthropy to partnerships with organisations and governments.

"Education Cannot Wait is a great catalyst. We need civil society and business to be part of the solution.”

Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner of the refugee agency UNHCR

Photo credit: UNMISS

Now we move into the next section of the event. Tom Fletcher tells everyone that the guests at each table will be asked to discuss one - or all - of the three themes of forming more effective partnerships in emergencies, the future of work and emergencies. They can report back with their thoughts to GBC-Education later.

In the meantime, Tom has an announcement. Two years ago, GBC-Education made a pledge to bring assets from the business community to support education in emergencies, including conflicts and natural disasters.

After building initial partnerships, today - thanks to LexisNexis Risk Solution and RELX Group - the REACT (Rapid Education ACTion) platform is going live. REACT now connects businesses with needs on the ground in real time and allows for progress to be tracked and monitored. Learn more about REACT.

Tom now asks some key attendees about some of the ways they are tapping into the expertise of the private sector to help global education.

Matthew Rycroft , Permanent Secretary of the UK’s Department for International Development, said: “The private sector is best placed to lead the skills transformation. There is a massive skills gap in terms of education.”

Julia Gillard, Board Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, says: “We are going to ask businesses used to handling huge amounts of data to help us handle the data from developing countries. If we can share that information it can make a huge difference.”

Tariq Al Gurg addresses the event, watched by Sarah Brown

Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of the charity Dubai Cares, talks about launching skills in youth empowerment. He adds: “One example is our programme we’re about to launch in a month. Ecuador is booming, hospitality, customer service area. We’re going to support them in youth empowerment but most of those jobs are in the private sector.” 

Scott Mitchell, President and CEO, Americas, Sumitomo Chemical Company, says the key is to focus on the “how” - and to get employees and management engaged. He adds: "What sort of things can we do? Invest in training, get the next generation of factory workers ready. And advocate for education."

Flavio Villanustre, CISO and VP of Technology at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, says: "Businesses must internalise the fact that humanity is not a zero sum game. The more we invest in communities and humanity, the better off we all are. We believe in our local communities. The more we can do with local communities, the more we can invest.” 

The Director of Education Cannot Wait is Yasmine Sherif. She congratulates REACT for launching its digital platform today and adds: "If you invest in the human mind, then you are investing in the present and the future. You’re investing in human beings. If you’re investing in 75 million children in crisis, you’re investing in humanity – their humanity and your own."

Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmin Sherif says 'invest in humanity'

Our final two speakers are Gus Schmedlen, Vice President for Education at HP - who talks about the need to work multilaterally and engage with civil society - and Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman of The Portland Trust. 

He says: “We can bring systemic innovation to education systems by harnessing entrepreneurs. It’s the best way that I have come up with to improve lives in education.” 

Tom Fletcher wraps up the event and thanks everyone for coming. Referring to a rendition of the iconic song We Will Rock You that was heard earlier, he says: “There’s a generation out there that will rock us.” 

We are a global children's charity committed to ending the global education crisis and unleashing the potential of the next generation.

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