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World's Largest K-12 Private Education Company Says Businesses Must Commit More to Education in Developing Countries

DAVOS, Switzerland, January 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

  • UNESCO policy paper released today highlights just 5% in aid goes to education

The Chairman of GEMS Education Sunny Varkey, who is attending the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, says the minimal contribution of just 5% of all aid by private organizations and Foundations to supporting education in developing countries was nowhere near enough.  

Mr Varkey was responding to a new policy paper stemming from UNESCO's Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2012 released today. The paper shows how little education receives compared with other private sector contributions to development; 53% of US foundations' grants are allocated to health but only 8% to education. The paper also highlights that just five corporations make up the majority (60%) of the private sector contributions to education.

Mr Varkey, who runs the world's largest kindergarten-to-grade-12 private education company, and who is also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Education Partnerships, said: "These figures are striking and should act as a wakeup call for the private sector to make a real commitment to supporting education. It is difficult to understand why education is not seen as important as other sectors like health and the environment."

He added: "An education will benefit not just the child itself, not just the child's family but in many cases, an entire community. Think of the impact an education could have on the 60 million primary age children who have no school to go to!"

Mr Varkey says private organizations must recognize that education is the biggest issue in the world today because of the role it can play in reducing poverty, intolerance and conflict, and in solving unprecedented environmental challenges.

"I believe that, in order for contributions to reach those most in need, private organizations must also be more strategic in the way they invest and the way they support education. They need to look at the expertise of their company and target their investment accordingly. It's not just about committing money. GEMS Education's philanthropic arm, the Varkey GEMS Foundation and UNESCO are working together in partnership to train Principals and teachers. We are harnessing the education expertise of our company to help train 10,000 Principals in India, Ghana and Kenya which will ultimately impact millions of children."

Mr Varkey said he is also concerned by the report's findings that private sector contributions often do not reach those most in need, and are often only short term. He said: "Investing in education is a long term commitment. The fact that aid to education is expected to stagnate until 2015 means the Education for All goals will be impacted. If we hope to do something about the 60 million school age children who have no school to attend then we need to begin by committing to an investment that correlates with the average school life of a child which is 13 or 14 years."

Mr Varkey added: "In order to achieve the Millennium Development goals, the importance of partnerships cannot and should not be underestimated and I would encourage other private organisations to do the same."

"Moving forward private organisations need to consider how we approach the problem of a lack of access to education for millions of children around the world. We must come up with innovative solutions in order to build capacity. Clearly technology will play an important role in providing increased access at a low cost while still maintaining quality."

Note to Editors:

About GEMS Education:

Founded in 1959, GEMS Education is an international education company. Its vision is to be the world's leading provider of quality education, enriching the lives of millions of children and the communities in which they live. GEMS Education works across three distinct sectors: Private, Public and Philanthropic. In the Private sector, the company is the largest kindergarten-to-grade-12 education provider in the world. It educates 110,000 students from over 150 nationalities across four continents. GEMS employs over 11,000 education professionals, specialists and staff from over 80 countries. In the Public sector, GEMS Education works with governments to lift school performance and improve the standards and expertise of government schools across the globe. The Varkey GEMS Foundation is the philanthropic arm of GEMS Education. Its aim is to impact 100 underprivileged children for every child enrolled in a GEMS school. The Honorary Chair of the Foundation is former US President, Bill Clinton. GEMS has offices in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Singapore, India, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.


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