Partnering with philanthropy to promote education

Special Schools Aid Kuwaits Handicapped Children (UN Photo/Rice)

“Education is the key to self empowerment, few tools are more powerful,” said H.E. Mr. Lazarous Kapambwe, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as he opened the special event on “Partnering with the Philanthropic Community to promote Education for All” today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. 

The event was held in preparation of the 2011 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) on “implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education” in Geneva in July this year.

The private sector and the philanthropic community play a vital role in the development of education. Leaders in philanthropy, chief executive officers, corporate and civil societies, educators and UN representatives shared best practices and encouraged to boost global private funding for the education. 

A number of philanthropist groups participated in the event, including the Clinton Global Initiative, Education for All-Fast Track Initiative and the International Association of University Presidents.

The discussions focused on the themes of enabling greater access for girls and boys to complete primary education and promoting education and training for tomorrow’s economy.

H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, stressed the importance of quality of education in his address to the philanthropic community, noting that lack of IQ usually implies lack of an “intelligence quotient,” in this scenario is a lack of “investment quality.”  He further discussed the need to focus on teaching, stating “spending alone is not enough, quality counts.”

Education enables access for all girls and boys to the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for the development of life-long skills. Ms. Daljit Dhaliwal, International News Journalist, noted “in 2008, at least 67 million children of primary-school age 4 to 11 years were not enrolled in school.” If current trends continue, Millennium Development Goal 2 will not be achieved and millions of children will not be in school in 2015.

Corporations have a vital role in shaping educational services. Ms. Wendy Hawkins, Executive Director of the Intel Foundation, noted that corporations do not give purely as philanthropy, rather as an investment.  She stated that “we understand the value of education; it’s the value for a company.”  In fact, each additional year of schooling received has been proven to increase income by 10 percent and GDP by 0.37 percent.

During the panel discussion, Mr. Matthew Bishop, American Business Editor and New York Bureau Chief of the Economist, discussed the importance of not only ensuring that students are provided with resources, but that the resources are also used efficiently.

H.E. Michaelle Jean, 27th Governor General of Canada and UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti, emphasized the need for growth, stating economic success “hinges on labor skills, and people’s capacity to do, to think and to innovate, without education, labor force will not able to be competitive in the market.”

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