Speaking from the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, the Chairman of GEMS Education, Sunny Varkey says the minimal contribution by private organizations and Foundations to supporting education globally was nowhere near good enough.
Online PR News – 07-March-2013 – 23 January 2013 – Speaking from the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, the Chairman of GEMS Education, Sunny Varkey says the minimal contribution by private organizations and Foundations to supporting education globally was nowhere near good enough and called on the heads of private organizations to consider how a quality education had impacted their lives. Mr. Varkey does not believe the private sector fully understood the impact that supporting education could have in solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Mr. Varkey, who is also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador (Education Partnerships) said, “No matter the size of the company I would ask the CEO’s of those institutions to think back to their days at school and reflect on the impact a quality education had in their careers. I would then ask them to consider the impact that that a quality education can have in some of the worlds’ poorest countries. An education will benefit not just the child, not just the child’s family but in many cases, an entire community.
Mr. Varkey was responding to a policy paper released by UNESCO at Davos today which highlighted the potential for the private sector to boost considerably its contribution to education. The policy paper comes from Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2012. The report found that current private contributions to education in developing countries, totaling US$683 million a year, are equivalent to only 5% of all aid.
“Private organizations must recognize that education is the biggest issue in the world today because of the role it can play in reducing poverty, intolerance, conflict and, in solving unprecedented environmental challenges. I believe education should be elevated to one of the highest priority sectors by private organizations and Foundations when deciding who they make their contribution to. They must place education at the top of their list because of the impact that providing access to a quality education can have for children and their families in the developing world.
Mr. Varkey said he is also concerned by the report’s findings that private sector contributions often do not reach those most in need, and are often only short term.
He said, “Investing in education is a long term commitment. The fact that aid to education is expected to stagnate until 2015 means the Education for All goals will be impacted. If we hope to do something about the 60 million school age children who have no school to attend then we need to begin by committing to an investment that correlates with the average school life of a child which is 13 or 14 years.
“I believe that, in order for contributions to reach those most in need, private organizations must be more strategic in the way they invest and the way they support education. They need to look at the expertise of their company and target their investment accordingly. It’s not just about committing money. GEMS philanthropic arm, the Varkey GEMS Foundation and UNESCO are working together in partnership to train Principals and teachers. We are harnessing the education expertise of our company to help train 10,000 Principals in India, Ghana and Kenya.
In order to achieve the Millennium Development goals the importance of partnerships cannot and should not be underestimated and I would encourage other private organisations to do the same.
Moving forward private organizations need to consider how we approach the problem of a lack of access to education for millions of children around the world? We must come up with innovative solutions in order to build capacity. Clearly technology will play an important role in providing increased access at a low cost while still maintaining quality.