By: Kevin Kalra, Senior Project Coordinator, Global Business Coalition for Education
Pakistan is home to over 6.7 million out-of-school children – the second highest in the world – and 55 million people over the age of 10 who are unable to read.
Business leaders in the GBC-Education Pakistan Working Group – launched in Islamabad in March 2014 – gathered for its first in-person meeting at the Habib Bank Limited offices in Karachi. The GBC-Education Pakistan Working Group expressed a sense of urgency to drive change and help achieve the vision of universal education in Pakistan.
The group agreed that the activities of the business community should complement the Pakistan Vision 2025 Plan to guide its activities and explored the potential of creating a fund and social impact bond scheme in Pakistan.
The meeting was led by Baela Raza Jamil (Advisory Board member of GBC-Education and Director of Programs at Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi) and Aman Aziz Siddiqui (Head of Corporate Strategy and Investments at Habib Bank Limited).
Sixteen CEOs and corporate executives from 12 organizations participated in the meeting, including leaders from Habib Bank Limited, Western Union, Standard Chartered, Oxford University Press and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi. The Global Compact Network Pakistan Secretariat and its participants also joined the meeting in support of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative.
The group discussed five considerations to guide private sector engagement in education in Pakistan:
1. Be community-oriented. We could urge companies to focus on improving education in their communities of operation. Companies can pool their corporate responsibility funds and work together to improve education services and develop models of best practice through comprehensive area based approaches.
2. Improve operational excellence and foster innovation in education. We should encourage better management and innovation in the delivery of education services. Government could provide land and infrastructure for the delivery of education services and the private sector can manage its delivery. We could also optimize underutilized education infrastructure.
3. Use the voice of business for change. We need to pressure government to deliver on its promises and improve access to quality education.
4. Use innovative financing like social impact bonds to support education. We should investigate the feasibility of implementing a social impact bond scheme in Pakistan to finance education initiatives, like health interventions and sports initiatives.
5. Build the capacity of government. As a public good, education services ultimately reside within the domain of government. The work of the Pakistan Working Group should complement government priorities and improve its ability to deliver services to those greatest in need, as articulated in the Pakistan 2025 plan.