by Annika Erickson-Pearson
As an avid global education advocate, I’ve visited with members of Congress, attended conferences around the United States, and even had the opportunity to attend Malala Yousafzai’s first public speaking engagement at the United Nations. I’ve heard consistently at the education functions and conferences I’I’ve attended about the key importance of integrating the private sector into projects and programs. I had not found, however, a succinct definition of what this private sector integration into global education strategies actually looks like. I searched twitter, scanned blogs and websites, and then finally did what any 21-year-old college student would love to do: moved to Geneva to research and write a paper on the topic myself.
I spent just under four months in Switzerland living with a host family, crafting a research project, and shuttling in between lectures at international organizations like the United Nations, the International Labor Organization, UNICEF, and the International Committee of the Red Cross with thirty other college students. I set up interviews in Paris with education officials from the Global Partnership for Education, UNESCO, and the OECD. I spoke with experts at the Global Business Coalition for Education and the World Bank and finally began to understand why, exactly, we simply must engage the private sector as we move forward as a global education community.
The private sector has a variety of assets to share in the pursuit of education for all. More than simply serving as an attractive source for funding, private foundations and enterprises are often the spring of innovation and source of solutions for some of our most pressing problems. Corporations can provide expertise on information and communications technology for education and develop advanced tools and procedures for learning. They can serve as partners in the most vulnerable communities, contribute to vocational development, or provide the structure to expand access to education.
I consider it a great privilege to devote my time to researching issues in education. Meeting with passionate experts and advocates in education only reinforced my certainty that we have the capability to bring a quality education to each child, regardless of zip code.
1. The United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG). I did the majority of my research in this building, bought some snickers bars, and pretty consistently ran into diplomats from all over the world.
2. This is my friend Sarah and I in Lausanne, Switzerland.
3. This is a view of Lausanne, as well. It’s the next big city down from Geneva.
4. The sunset in Brussels, Belgium. We went there to visit the European Commission.