UNESCO’s Director-General presented a just-released Framework for Business Engagement in Education during the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit in New York on 20 September.
“Investment in education is a win-win, benefitting both learning and business,” said Mrs Bokova. “The private sector is not simply a donor, the private sector is a partner, and a key one that can play an important role in anticipating what skills are needed to drive growth in today’s economies,” said Ms Bokova. She stressed the need to change the “optics of education”, by focusing on a holistic perspective, the quality dimension, different ways of learning and better linking schools and the workplace. “Education is a basic human right and a foundation public good. There is no smarter long-term investment for societies or for business.”
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.
The Director-General also chaired a discussion on the role of business in supporting the transition from school to work during the UN Global Compact Private Sector Forum on Africa. Participants, who included the CEO of Pearson, John Fallon, and the CEO of Save the Children International, Janine Whitbread, underscored the need to view business as a full partner in educational reform, not just a financial donor. ‘Public-private partnerships should cover the full gamut, from standards, qualifications and curricula, to policy advice and the promotion of innovation’, the Director-General stated. Ms Bokova also urged the importance of working closely with governments. ‘Governments need to have ownership, they need to see that the contribution of the private sector is aligned with their priorities. This is the key to a successful partnership’.
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.