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Thursday, April 17, 2014

President's Blog: Engaging the Private Sector in Support of Education

Patrick_GastonLast month in Dubai, I joined Western Union® colleagues, Jean Claude (JC) Farah, president, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe and CIS, and Ingrid Sahu, vice president, communications for these same regions, at the Global Education & Skills Forum. The Forum, organized by UNESCO, the Varkey GEMS Foundation, and the UAE Ministry of Education, brought together heads of government to meet with invited business and NGO leaders from around the world, with the purpose of strengthening ties and engaging the private sector in support of the UN Global Education First Initiative.

This year’s Forum, “Exchanging Our Vision: Employment, Education, and Equity,” featured leading experts committed to solving the global educational crisis through educational transformation. It was extremely powerful to see so many public and private organizations coming together to address the most pressing challenges to achieving universal education. One key theme that I kept hearing was the need for the private sector to get involved, helping grow businesses and economies by addressing inequality in education – specifically by tackling the problem of high youth unemployment via secondary education and vocational training.

This event brought new ideas and collaboration to the table that can enhance and strengthen our efforts to support secondary and vocational education across the globe. It also underscored the importance of the work that the Western Union Foundation is doing, via grants and other activities that foster and promote education, through Western Union’s Education for Better initiative. Education for Better is a 3-year, corporate-led initiative to help meet global education goals.
For example, a recent grant to the Trust for the Americas POETA program helped provide vocational, financial literacy and job training opportunities for 600 young, at-risk Mexicans from vulnerable neighborhoods. Another grant, to Give2 Asia, is providing 25 young migrants with two years of free training in electrical maintenance at the BN Vocational School in Dalian, China. And our partnership with Teach for All is helping grow a critical mass of global leaders through organizations in 32 countries that recruit top university graduates to commit two years to teach in their countries' highest-need communities, invest in their development as teachers, and foster their ongoing leadership as a force for change.

Education is a key that can unlock the door for many, playing a powerful role in creating economic opportunity, and bringing a host of benefits to local communities and society for generations to come. We invite you to join us in committing to support efforts to make access to quality education a reality for all.



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