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Partnering with the philanthropic community to promote education for all

©The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

NEW YORK, USA, 1 March 2011 – The United Nations Economic and Social Council is meeting at UN Headquarters in New York this week on partnering with the philanthropic community to promote education for all children.

 AUDIO: Listen now

Participants hope to accelerate progress in achieving universal education by engaging supporters from the private sector and philanthropic community to help fund and promote global education initiatives.

UNICEF Radio moderator Amy Costello spoke with Prof. Jeffery Sachs on the role of philanthropy in achieving education for all, and about the transformative effect technology is having in classrooms worldwide. Prof. Sachs – Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – will moderate the closing session of this week’s event.

Financial support needed

“Most countries in the very poor world cannot afford to provide free access to secondary education,” Prof. Sachs told UNICEF Radio. “Even the Millennium Development Goals fall short of what they need to be, because they only talk about primary education.”

Private and philanthropic support can make a lasting contribution. In Ethiopia, for instance, the Nike Foundation provided scholarships for young girls who passed the eighth-grade national exam, enabling them to progress to secondary school.

“In this particular village, no girl had ever graduated high school,” said Prof. Sachs. “So this was a start. The example of these girls has triggered a change in their community.”

Forging strong partnerships

In addition to financial support, schools need to provide young people with a quality education, including Internet access, to help develop a globally connected curriculum that meets students’ needs.

“We don’t have the adequate level of philanthropy or government support to make this general, but I would put it at the top of the list of things that the world needs to do,” said Prof. Sachs. He added that it is vital for the private sector to not only provide funds but also forge strong partnerships with host countries and communities in order to ensure sustainable change.

“I am a huge believer in the role of companies to help the development process”, said Prof. Sachs. “Sometimes it is because they are lending their technology, sometimes it is through scholarships. We need these partnerships.”


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