Increasing the Impact of Corporate Engagement in Education: Landscape and Challenges

International Education, Corporate Social Responsibility, Development, Corporations, Foreign Aid
Justin W. van Fleet, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Center for Universal Education
The Brookings Institution

Editor’s Note: The Center for Universal Education co-hosted a side event with UNESCO and the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs during the High Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. This meeting brought together business leaders from multinational companies and representatives from governments and ministries of education to discuss engaging the private sector in education. His Excellency Lazarous Kapambwe, President of ECOSOC and the Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations, made opening remarks and Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO moderated the discussion. Justin van Fleet discussed the challenges and opportunities with corporate engagement in education.

The Current State of Education is Nothing Short of a Global Learning Crisis
Despite progress made since the start of the millennium to refocus efforts on education, progress in education has been slow and uneven with government commitments wavering. The current state of education is nothing short of a global crisis: 67 million children remain out of primary school and resource mobilization to reach the 2015 targets has fallen short by over $16 billion. Just as alarming, yet rarely discussed, are the hundreds of millions of children enrolled in school but not learning. This global learning crisis is characterized by alarming statistics: in some countries after five years of schooling children still have a 40 percent chance of being illiterate. Three out of ten young people in emerging economies cannot do basic math. And despite the rhetoric, education has yet to create truly effective, sustainable and scalable partnerships with the private sector like we have seen in other sectors, such as health.


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