Live and Learn

Global Education Initiative

By Iain Miller

Education is the linchpin of our society. It allows us to bequeath the knowledge we have obtained in the past and present to the caretakers of our future. Education is a priority not only for the public sector, but for businesses, individuals, and communities, as a sound education pushes innovation, builds a capable and competitive workforce, increases purchasing power and boosts overall productivity. Education on a global level is critical for the economic health and prosperity of all people and all nations. However, many countries still suffer from a lack of resources and opportunities, their educational systems stultified by a vicious cycle of poverty and indifference.

In order to address these issues, the World Economic Forum, founded by German economist and philanthropist Klaus Schwab, established the Global Education Initiative (GEI) in 2003. By combining the efforts of the donor community, the international private sector, and regional and national governments, leaders hope to bring the power of information technology and telecommunications to enhance education in the developing world. In only seven years of existence, the initiative has impacted close to 2 million students and teachers and generated over $100 million in educational aid to Jordan, India, Palestine, Rwanda, and Egypt. As of today, the group has partnered with 40 private sector businesses, 14 governments, and 7 major multinational organizations. Together they have helped raised education awareness in impoverished countries and implemented a number of reform strategies for building a sustainable educational infrastructure.

The Global Education Initiative works by facilitating interaction between disparate organizations toward a single, vested interest. While the social benefits of education are well documented, the group attempts to include the private sector by highlighting the economic potential created through investment into developing countries. For example, by improving the quality and supply of skilled laborers in a region, it can entice business to the area and spur economic growth. Greater global competition results in greater innovation and creates an ecosystem that not only supports the development of relevant skills, but is flexible to the vagaries of a malleable and ever-changing environment. Furthermore, the GEI works to establish and enhance trust between governments, regional communities, and the private sector. This increased interaction creates a foundation for future development and financial partnerships that extend beyond education into other social and economic issues. One such issue is civil rights and equality, as the Global Education Initiative works strenuously to improve the education of women in countries where such practices were long considered taboo. Lastly, through the act of charity the group hopes to achieve greater leverage for future social investment programs in impoverished nations that desperately need assistance, but have previously been unable to receive it due to governmental limitations.

For the future, the Global Education Initiative is set to embark on a process directed at addressing the importance of education. Not only is better education a moral and humanitarian issue, it is also a pragmatic one. Education is a catalyst for economic growth. It sparks the dynamo of innovation. It inspires, enhances, and pushes competition and entrepreneurship at a global level. In fact, in previous years, the Global Education Initiative has launched a number of workshops with the objective of installing Entrepreneurship Education as part of its economic recovery and social development plan. By educating and supporting the next wave of entrepreneurs, the GEI hopes to breed entirely new markets and opportunities not only for global expansion, but to foster the social skills necessary to developing an individual, such as knowledge and social inclusion. While the challenges and obstacles are great, the GEI hopes that through partnership and creativity we can reach young and impressionable minds; pollinating them with the knowledge that will bloom into a brighter future.

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