Indian villagers, part of a Self Help Group (SHG) organisation, using mobile phones and laptops in Bibinagar village outskirts of Hyderabad. Photo © Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images
Education is critical toward addressing poverty. Last Wednesday marked the last day of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development for 2017, which took place under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. The theme of the forum was “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”.
Ensuring quality education and preventing poverty from continuing is in the interest of the business community. According to UNESCO, an educated populace is more likely to see economic growth and poverty reduction. In fact, if all adults received a secondary education, the global poverty rate would be halved. Children and youth who miss out on an education will not learn the skills needed for a future workforce, and this can trap them and subsequent generations in vicious cycles of poverty.
With a more educated populace, comes a more skilled and capable workforce. In addition, education brings stability to communities which improves growth and creates a strong consumer base for business. These themes, along with others, such as education and violence prevention, were critical at the HLPF side event titled “ICT – Integrated Innovative Education for Global Citizenship to Eliminate Poverty,” where various actors from NGOs, UN agencies, and business presented ways to use technology and partnerships to ensure education for all.
Dr. Eunhee Jung, the Founder and Executive Director of IVECA International Virtual Schooling, emphasized the importance of dignity and respect when addressing economic hardship, stating that “while poverty persists, there is no freedom. Human rights and justice must be included when talking about poverty.” Part of this process, she continued, is finding out “how you identify yourself and where you belong in the community.” Education plays an important role in providing children a sense of worth, equipping them with the tools to learn about their own talents and skills.
Dr. Jung described how IVECA is connecting students from across the world through technology, so that children and youth can exchange their experiences and understand other cultures and ways of life.
Business took center stage as Ann Woo, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Samsung Electronics in North America, presented Samsung’s “Solve for Tomorrow” initiative, which supports children using STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) skills to help their local communities. In the past year, Samsung has recognized three schools as “Solve for Tomorrow” National Winners for the projects, ranging from devices that alert drivers about crossing deer to assisting farms in tracking the growth of invasive weeds.
“Corporations have a unique role to play in contributing to global citizenship” Ms. Woo said. “Corporations are better funded. They also have a relationship with the customers and can connect with them.”
Ms. Woo showcased the Secondary School for Journalism in New York City, a “Solve for Tomorrow” National Winner, which has developed a phone application that is helping low-income students in New York City receive free meals from restaurants.
The Global Business Coalition for Education is at the forefront of providing business with the tools and opportunities to bring their talents to education development. For example, member company ITWORX Education has been connecting Syrian refugee children with teachers around the world through its WinjiGo platform.
To learn more about how your business can get involved in GBC-Education, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.