At the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York, the business community welcomed major announcements advancing education for millions of children and youth around the world, including hundreds of millions of dollars for a new International Finance Facility for Education.
At an event hosted by the Global Business Coalition for Education and UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited, young people took center stage alongside major CEOs from the business community to focus on reimagining education for the next generation.
Immediately preceding the event, governments and the private sector pledged funding to the Education Cannot Wait Fund (ECW) and the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd). The United Kingdom and the Netherlands contributed $600 million in grants and guarantees for the International Finance Facility for Education and seven countries and the private sector pledged $205 million to inclusive quality education for girls and boys caught up in the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
UNICEF’s Henrietta Fore said “We’re looking for innovative new ideas to join-up different sources of public and private funding to address this growing need. The International Finance Facility for Education — the IFFED — is an excellent example. It has the potential to ensure that funding provided to education needs around the world — where and when it’s needed.”
The new funding came at a time when statistics were revealed in the 2030 Skills Scorecard, published today by the Global Business Coalition for Education and the Education Commission, showing that more than two-thirds of children in low-income countries – many of them in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East – will not be on track to have the skills they need to succeed in the workplace of 2030.
Jamira Burley, Head of Youth Skills and Engagement at the Global Business Coalition for Education said, “We cannot continue business as usual without putting young people at the center of change.” This was echoed by the CEO of Unilever, Alan Jope, stating, “The future of work is here now. It requires all of us to be in a mode of continuous learning. The single biggest thing Unilever can do is to provide multiple channels to get young people to join our company.”
To bolster the business community’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 4 of inclusive and equitable quality education, the Global Business Coalition for Education is proactively working with the three major global funds for education to bring greater coherence and impact to the business community’s engagement with the international financing mechanisms. Justin van Fleet, Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition for Education said, “We welcome the new funding which now makes the anticipated International Finance Facility for Education a reality, unlocking education for millions of school places for children in lower-middle income countries. Our platform will allow businesses to identify and provide strategic support to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), ECW, and IFFEd. We have worked with all three of these institutions and will continue to build stronger and more strategic partnerships to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal 4.” The business community has a seat on the board of GPE and ECW and has been instrumental in providing financial support and expertise to establish IFFEd.
“This is where we want to invest to support the SDGs. We are excited about the future,” said Nick Tzitzon, Executive VP, Marketing & Communications at SAP. Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation added, “We’re in a rapidly changing environment… [and] traditional education cannot keep up.”