The Global Business Coalition for Education launched several new initiatives in the lead up to the Davos World Economic Forum in an accelerated effort to ensure progress is made in getting more children into school and learning before the end of 2015.
The big push for business engagement in education comes one week after a major announcement on behalf of business to support the UN appeal to educate more than 400,000 Syrian refugees. The new “philanthropy meets core business” model will redefine corporate engagement and pave the way for a new relationship between business and the communities they serve.
GBC-Education member Western Union (WU) will roll out the WU Education for Better fund with A World at School, that will allow people to donate to UNICEF education programs for Syrian youth. Individuals can donate to the Education for Better Fund at more than 300,000 WU locations worldwide, or online in the United States. WU will match consumer donations on a 1:1 basis, up to $100,000.
“This is the start of a new way of thinking about how business can use its core assets to revolutionize the engagement of the bottom of the pyramid in education and social justice,” stated Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education. “Regardless of access to credit or technology, anyone can contribute as little or as much as they want to a central education fund free of charge to address an issue they care about.”
At Davos, Accenture Development Partnership will convene the coalition to move forward the social impact bonds for the financing of education.
Bringing in the perspectives of Aliko Dangote, President of the Dangote Group and Mark Dybul, Executive Director of The Global Fund, the event follows up on the recommendations from a report released last year making the business case for companies to invest in education as a public good. Gib Bulloch, Executive Director of Accenture Development Partnerships said: “Education has for too long been treated as a CSR or social issue for business. It is now highly strategic.”
“As a Human Capital company, Accenture must take a long term view on our investment in the development of talent. Through our research with GBC-Education and The Brookings Institution, there is a strong business case for corporations who engage.”
At the Davos event, Brown is expected to announce the plan for 100 corporate brands supporting education through the coalition in 2014 as part of the GBC-Education Network that will launch later in the first quarter.
These are just two of the many path-breaking new initiatives the Global Business Coalition for Education has launched to put education on the top of the business agenda.
Earlier this week, corporate giants Intel, Gucci and HP spoke at the Tech4Ed event at Facebook Headquarters in London, where major corporate marketing and communications leaders convened with campaigners. The GBC-Education forum put forward the best practices in social media and technology for long-term massive mobilization campaigns for consumers, employees and the public in education.
Last month, the coalition convened nearly 30 technology companies alongside academics and international institutions establish plans to build a new Global Education Platform to provide free of charge courses in the most difficult countries and support for the most marginalized children, the 57 million without any educational opportunity whatsoever.
Until now, US companies alone have contributed 16 times more to global health than to education, with the education sector receiving less than half a billion dollars of uncoordinated, short-term investments.
“What we are seeing across the board is a corporate realization that investing in education is essential for business to reach its own goals,” said Justin van Fleet, Chief of Staff to the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, nonresident Fellow at Brookings and GBC-Education advisory board member. “The new announcements from the coalition demonstrate that status quo is no longer a model that business will accept when it comes to the education of its future employees, consumers and communities.”
Education will be on the agenda at several sessions during the World Economic Forum. “The ways that businesses are stepping up to turn traditionally small investments into large-scale movements for change is what GBC-Education is all about,” said Brown. “Our companies are leading the effort in this shared-value movement in education and shining the light for other companies to follow.”