The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) announced its first set of commitments from the private sector in the lead up to the Syrian Donor Conference in February totalling more than $50 million. Over 50 companies have come together to support plans to get 1 million Syrian refugee children back into school this year and will continue to make new commitments in the coming weeks.
The announcement was made by Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland at a press conference.
Sarah Brown said: “We are hugely grateful to our coalition members and partners for this overwhelming contribution, and recognising the need to ensure the future for Syrian refugee children is not ignored because their education is neglected. The number of new technology companies and emerging businesses joining in this effort shows the enormous potential of harnessing future-oriented innovations from the private sector to address education in emergencies. We can make a very real difference to over a million children by supporting them get into school to learn and rebuild their lives.”
GBC-Education members and partners are making commitments to support Syrian refugee children through finance and in-kind support ranging from direct support to NGOs working in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey; finance for “speed” schools to accelerate the transition back into school for Syrian refugee children who have fallen behind; and a strong focus on vocational training among vulnerable communities. It also includes innovative solutions from IT providers and education providers to deliver quality educational content through technology for schoolchildren and training material for teachers.
Part of what makes this moment unique is that many of these commitments and partnerships come from organizations based in the Middle East. They are also joined by other global companies that are invested in the future of Syrian refugees. This includes, but is not limited to, support from GBC-Education members ITWORX Education via the EuroMENA Fund, Pearson, NRS International and Vitol Foundation; and companies Bridge International Academies and McKinsey. Foundations and funds such as Breteau Foundation, Ikea Foundation, Makhzoumi Foundation, Mikati Foundation and the Speed School Fund also pledged support.
Tom Fletcher, Director of Global Strategy for the Global Business Coalition for Education said: “Our coalition members are not only supporting with money, but bringing their vast expertise, ideas, creativity, and connections to tackle this enormous challenge. This is not only about getting children back into the classroom but also making sure that they are safe getting to school, teachers have access to the right resources and the quality of education is not impacted upon. A challenge like this creates a space for business to really show how they can play a huge role, and make a fundamental difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the world.”
Coalition members are not only engaging as donors but as practical partners. Companies will utilize their core assets to create opportunities for significant improvement in the following focus areas: technology, content, connectivity, logistics and employability. Along with these plans, the expertise of institutions like New York University (through its Global TIES Programme), and nongovernmental organizations such as Jusoor and Rumie are being brought on to tackle the challenge of ensuring children return to school, close learning gaps and receive a quality of education.
GBC-Education is also expanding its network in the Middle East, alongside partners like the Young Presidents Association and business networks in the region.
This announcement was made on the heels of the ‘Hope For Syria’s Young Talent’ campaign’s call on the international community to back the plan to get one million Syrian refugees into school this year, ahead of a crucial Syria Donors Conference in a few weeks on February 4.
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About the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education)
GBC-Education brings the business community together to accelerate progress in delivering quality education and learning for all of the world’s children and youth. Since its launch in 2012, GBC-Education has grown to become the single forum connecting business to make a lasting impact on the lives of children and youth through education.
GBC-Education members believe their core business assets, social responsibility and philanthropy, when used in collaboration with government and other stakeholders, can be a powerful tool to expand education for all.
The Press conference:
How can we secure access to education for 1 million Syrian refugee children? At least 65 million have had their education directly affected by humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises. The most immediate victims are the 1.3 million Syrian school-age children residing in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. A new and ambitious target has been set to create 1 million school places in 2016 for Syrian refugee children, giving families hope that education and opportunity can be provided in the region.