By: Kevin Kalra, Senior Project Coordinator, Global Business Coalition for Education
We are less than 1,000 days from the 2015 deadline to achieve Millennium Development Goal 2: Universal Primary Education (MDG2). The release of the 11th Education for All Global Monitoring Report – an authoritative reference on the state of education worldwide – highlights our progress to achieve MDG2.
We can’t Afford Business as Usual
The report reveals that the poorest young women in developing countries may not achieve universal literacy until 2072. 250 million children are not learning the basics, even though half of them spent 4 years in school. The annual cost to governments for this failure is $129 billion. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the richest boys will achieve universal primary education completion by 2021, but the poorest girls will not catch up until 2086. The business community can play a larger effort to accelerate progress towards MDG2 and overturn these alarming trends by:
Intel has already taken action by ensuring decision-making around technology in schools involves teachers. Also, The Smartest Investment – developed with input from Education International and businesses – suggests business can support teachers by sponsoring members from marginalized communities to complete teacher training courses or providing time (paid or unpaid) for employees to volunteer in classrooms.
Innovating with Technology
The delivery of education services can be extremely expensive, given high labor and infrastructure costs. One way to mitigate costs is by leveraging technology. Econet Wireless launched EcoSchool, a cost-effective service to increase access to educational content in Africa. Nokia’s Mobile Mathematics service supports students in math using mobile phone applications. Technology can be used to reduce teacher time spent on disseminating content and collecting student data and provide more time to develop learning strategies.
Mobilizing public support
As a public good, education is typically under the purview of government. Business can elevate education as a political priority by mobilizing its consumers, investors, and stakeholders though technology tools. GUCCI, HP, and Intel, for example, have developed cause-marketing and social media strategies to translate their philanthropic commitments into a movement for global education.
Investing in education is critical to stabilizing operating environments, promoting economic growth, and saving lives. Business, through its core assets, philanthropy, and social responsibility can accelerate progress for MDG2.
Developed by an independent team and published by UNESCO, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report is an authoritative reference that aims to inform, influence, and sustain genuine commitment towards education for all.
Photo © UNESCO (Image is the cover of Education for All Global Monitoring Report featuring photo by Poulomi Basu)