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Good Education Means Good Business: Working Together to Support Global Education Goals

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The post originally appeared on the United Nations Global Compact site on 20 September 2013.

(New York, 20 September 2013) – A framework for business to engage in education was launched this morning by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a CEO summit in New York.

Developed by UNESCO, UNICEF, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, and the UN Global Compact, The Smartest Investment: A Framework for Business Engagement in Education makes the case that education is not only good for society but also good for business. The Framework charts the means to realize business benefits while advancing education goals. The report draws on the experience that business has the potential for transformational impact in education and can be an effective partner in improving education systems and learning worldwide.

The Framework sets out a three-part process for engagement: helping businesses to make the case internally about why they should engage in education; selecting appropriate activities; and acting in a responsible manner.

UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown; UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake were in attendance at the triennial UN Global Compact Leaders Summit held on 20 September in New York, where the Framework was announced by the UN Secretary-General.

“Business is well placed to engage with educational opportunities, and has a high motivation to do so. The Framework for Business Engagement in Education will help catalyze corporate action in support of global education goals,” said Gordon Brown who introduced the framework to over 1,000 companies and key stakeholders in the closing plenary of the Summit.

As of 2011, more than 57 million children of primary school age are still out of school. And even when children and youth go to school, often they are not learning. Two hundred and fifty million children of primary school age cannot read or write; some (130 million of them) even after spending four years in school.

The results of the flagship Global Corporate Sustainability Report – which was based on survey responses from nearly 2,000 companies worldwide – indicated that corporate leaders see education as the most urgent global development challenge, and also one in which they have a great ability to contribute.

“If all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills, poverty would fall by 12%,” said Mr. Qian Tang, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education. “The Framework for Business Engagement in Education will assist us in working together with the private sector to address global education challenges and create an educated, skilled workforce”.

“Innovations are needed to help children learn and access the skills they need to succeed and to be tomorrow’s leaders,” said Jo Bourne, UNICEF's Associate Director and Global Chief of Education. “UNICEF recognizes that innovative partnerships with the private sector are among the key forces to ensure a better and brighter future for education. Business has a critical stake in ensuring all individuals – young people and adults alike – have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Realizing that the skills of current and future employees are a core resource for enterprises around the world, companies have invested in institutions and outreach programmes. Universal enrollment in primary education could boost economic growth in low-income countries by two per cent per year, according to a UN estimate.

Answers also are found in the workplace.

Enterprises involved in global markets are often a conduit to advancement for their employees, as well as for developing economies. Job training, employee opportunities for advanced education, apprenticeships for young people, and the full engagement of the capabilities of women are all areas where a real difference can be made.

“Education is the greatest equalizer,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “It will raise living standards, boost employment, address social unrest and lead to a better future for all.”

The Framework supports the Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, which aims to put every child in school, improve the quality of learning, and foster global citizenship.

Download The Smartest Investment: A Framework for Business Engagement in Education

For more information, contact Edward Mackle, UN Global Compact.





 

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