Omowale David-Ashiru,Group MD Nigeria, NewGlobe

25,000 leaders across Business, Government, the UN, and Civil Society are convening this week virtually to mark 20 years of a worldwide commitment to social impact. They are all part of the largest initiative there has ever been to drive social good – the UN Global Compact.

Every organisation forming part of the UN Global Compact works to further its goals of making the world a better, fairer place, which includes NewGlobe, an organization that supports the education of nearly one million children a day across Africa.

As long term signatories, we stand behind the Compact’s recognition that “Investing in education is essential to developing a skilled workforce for the future and improving economic growth. Increasing smart investment in education over the longer term is needed.”

NewGlobe recognises that transformational change in education systems requires more than investment. It also rests on long-sighted and ambitious political and community leadership. Increasingly, such change is being prioritised by political leaders who recognise its overwhelming benefits for their societies; benefits which reach far beyond economic growth.

Across Africa, Governments, societies and communities are being supported by learning leaders like NewGlobe in partnerships with the power to revolutionise educational outcomes for millions of children and help build stable, equitable and prosperous societies.

In Nigeria we are delighted to work with the EKOEXCEL and EdoBEST programmes, programmes which thanks to far-sighted political leadership on behalf of the Governors of Lagos and Edo States are delivering educational system transformation and hugely improved learning outcomes for hundreds of thousands of primary school children.

In Liberia our Bridge Liberia programme supports the Liberian Government to improve teaching and learning in schools, educating tens of thousands of students across the country with dramatically improved outcomes.  In Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria, our Bridge community school network supports underserved communities by delivering superb education since the very first school opened in Nairobi in 2009.

What unites all of these programmes is NewGlobe’s commitment to learning as a science, and the use of education data to improve every aspect of learning. We are learning about learning constantly, and everything we learn is applied to make outcomes for students better.

We are proud of our work. We also recognise far more is needed. Tens of millions of African children remain out of school or are in school but not receiving the high quality education they require to build our shared future.

As Kenya’s President Kenyatta commented recently: “We need to make smart investments in education technology to help close the digital divide and leapfrog infrastructure deficits in schools.” The Covid pandemic which has disrupted education across Africa and the world has made such investment even more urgent. But it has also shown how technology can be harnessed in support of learning.

In Lagos State, nearly half a million mp3 players were distributed to pupils during school lockdown, through the EKOEXCEL programme. They provided grade appropriate pre-recorded lessons – regularly updated – to make learning at home easier and more accessible for children of all households. This was the largest ever eLearning drive in Africa. It shows what can be done with smart investments in education technology.

Local, national and international leaders are focused on ‘building back better’. In education, this means reviewing what is proven to work at a system-wide level in Africa and replicating those approaches.

This week’s UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit will – in its own words – “Elevate ambition for strategic collective action. Only through multi-stakeholder collaboration, innovative thought leadership, transparent reporting on progress and focused data driven initiatives can we get back on track.”

As leaders in learning and supporters of the urgent need recognised by governments, communities and all UN Global Compact signatories to invest in educational transformation, we could not agree more.

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