Education impact in 2022: lessons from our partners

As we start a new year and think about how businesses can do even better to support public education, let’s take a look at the insight and knowledge shared by our partners in 2021. Last year, leaders from large and small companies such as Deloitte, HarozTec, the LEGO Foundation, and Tata Strive took the time to share their insights with us and provide advice on why and how other businesses should support education. Here are some of their answers:

Why should a business invest in education?
With Anita Rajan, CEO of Tata Strive

In India over 90% of our working age group of the population is in the informal sector. They are in the informal sector because they don’t have the right skills to join the formal sector. The gap is still very large, but in the last ten years, there’s been a huge effort in India from the government, the industry, and the education sectors to bridge this gap. The way I see it is that if businesses and industry have a long-term view, it isn’t illogical to assume that investment in the next generation will only serve them better. I am from the Tata Group. Tata and the Tata philosophy is that the business exists because of the community […] It is my belief that rather than give somebody a fish, you teach the person to fish, you’ve set them up for a lifetime. If you skill and educate the young people, they will figure out, they’ll take care of their health, they will know before all the other challenges will be taken care of. I think this is very basic empowering and equitable to create an equitable society. For the CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds that companies have, the top priority should be on skilling and educating people.

Full interview available here.

Why should businesses invest in early childhood education?
With Karthik Krishnan, Former Global Chief Executive Officer of the Britannica Group

There are compelling incentives today for businesses to commit and drive positive impact with early childhood initiatives. Businesses cannot prosper long-term in a society that is afflicted with poverty, inequality, not-so-great talents, and constrained spending power. The first incentive for businesses to invest in early childhood education is that it can expand the talents of today’s employee pool for businesses. Parents with young children can not only participate in the workforce but also be more productive, knowing that their children are being well cared for and are being set on a path to success. The second incentive is that investing in early childhood education helps create a thriving consumer base for a business to sell its products and services. When both parents are working, it raises the standard of living and improves purchasing power, thereby creating a strong demand for the products and services, helping businesses prosper. The third incentive is that it ensures the long-term future of businesses. Early childhood education ensures that children are better prepared intellectually, socially, and emotionally for the demands of the 21st-century job market. In ensuring their future employability, we are also strengthening their spending power, which in turn will secure the future of these businesses.

Full interview available here.

How can businesses support early childhood education?
With Euan Wilmshurst, Head of Advocacy and Communication at the LEGO Foundation

Children are the employees of the future, and so businesses really need to ensure that they’re supporting the development of the skills that are needed in the working world of tomorrow. We know that we really need skills like critical thinking, problem solving, self-management, stress, tolerance, and flexibility – all of which can be developed in early childhood through learning through play models. There are a few things business can do to support early childhood, including offering parents and caregivers more flexible work options so that they are able to adjust their work life around their child’s schedule, which allows them ultimately to spend more time nurturing their own children’s development. Another would be supporting learning through play with creative technology. As technology rapidly advances, children need to be equipped with digital skills, so businesses can look to support early childhood education by donating equipment and resources or engaging in the type of training that will give children the ability to familiarize themselves with technology. And finally, very importantly, I’d advocate for prioritizing and reinventing learning. At the LEGO Foundation, we’re a proud supporter of the Save Our Future campaign, a global coalition of organizations raising awareness of the state of education, calling for governments to prioritize education in COVID-19 recovery plans. In supporting something like that, businesses can really ensure that they are a key voice in advocating for the prioritization and reinvention of education.

Full interview available here.

Why should a business invest in education abroad?
With Belinda Borck, Impact Editor at the Chocolonely Foundation

At Tony’s Chocolonely our mission is to make all chocolate worldwide 100% slave-free. That means free of child labor and free of forced labor. Sixty percent of the world’s cocoa is being produced by smallholder farmers in West Africa who live in poverty. Illegal child labor is a dominant issue in the cocoa sector in Ghana and Ivory Coast with 1.56 million children working and over 30 000 victims of modern slavery. We source the cocoa for our chocolate bars from Ghana and ivory coast. Children who are working cannot go to school and will lack the skills to be able to move out of property. Likewise, poverty is the greatest single factor that forces children to work. Poverty in itself is a very complex and multi-dimensional issue, and we aim to go about the issue together with our partners on the ground and the cocoa communities we source from. That’s why we have a direct and personal relationship with the cocoa cooperatives and the communities in Ghana and Ivory Coast [..] What should be avoided is initiatives that aren’t rooted in the community communities and that do not have their involvement at their core. That undermines any kind of initiative sustainability and it is always vital to align with national stakeholders such as the Ministry of Education. In the end it’s really about the quality of education. Industry-wide initiatives are needed which is why we are also partners of strong coalitions with other companies in the chocolate and cocoa industry.

Full interview available here.

What would be your advice for a small business interested in supporting education?
With Terrence Southern, CEO of HarozTec

The advice I would give is get involved and be an agent of change for the future. We are living in unpredictable times right now. There is a whole new generation that’s waiting to say: okay, I went to college, I was told that if I got good grades, I would get a scholarship, go to college, and then get a job. Well, the jobs are going to change for the future. By being a small business, I not only allow them to get a real cool job in technology, but I can also tell them, well here is how you might want to be an owner, an innovator, an entrepreneur, a community leader. They get to see that through me, and I am easier for them to reach than the CEO of some of the fortune companies. I am reachable, they can see me having a good time with my life. My life is balanced, I have a family, it looks attainable to them and relatable from there they stand.

Full interview available here.

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