Why Ethiopian business leaders should invest in education

Education funding

Mara Sirbu is A World at School’s Project Manager for Youth and NGO Partnerships. She is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for Day of the African Child on June 16 and other events. Here she tells how she addressed Ethiopian CEOs on the role of education in corporate responsibility.

After arriving in Addis Ababa at 1am with 20 hours of travel behind me, this morning I was excited (and nervous) to address a room full of Ethiopian business CEOs at the United Nations Global Compact’s CEO Roundtable on Corporate Responsibility.

The UNGC is the largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative in the world with more than 8000 companies in 145 countries. 

The impressive CEO Roundtable included the managing partner of Ernst and Young Ethiopia, the president of Enat Bank and the president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce.

My role was to make the case that education is a critical component of corporate responsibility during the Education Talkback Session, which capped off UNGC’s weeklong series of events.

The purpose of this session was to share the business case to invest in education, promote examples of business engagement in education in Ethiopia and Africa and introduce ways to build and leverage effective partnerships in education.

After several cups of strong Ethiopian coffee to shake off jetlag, I addressed the CEOs and invited them join the Global Business Coalition for Education’s #SmartInvestment network, a community of nearly 100 companies and civil society organisations committed to using their influence and resources to accelerate progress on delivering quality education to all the world’s children.

By joining the network, companies have the opportunity to access quarterly publications with insight from thought leaders and leading practitioners on businesses role in global education, attend webinars to share best practices and be featured through the network’s social media platforms.

Ethiopia has made remarkable progress in education in recent years. Government spending in education has increased from 11% in 2000 to 25% in 2011, demonstrating a true commitment to improving access to quality education.

However, many challenges persist. More than three million children are out of school and the current enrollment has already overwhelmed the system’s ability to deliver quality learning.

This clearly demonstrates that governments alone cannot solve the education crisis we face as a global community. The business community can have a transformational impact on global education through partnerships.

We need partnerships across government, business and civil society to make good on our promise to the world’s children and ensure that education is a birthright so that all girls and boys have access to safe schools and quality learning.

To learn more about the #SmartInvestment Network email [email protected]

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