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As Group Executive Director, Dino Varkey spearheads the strategic global business development of GEMS Education. He is the third generation of an education family that has been driven by providing[…]

Dino Varkey, Group Executive Director & Board Member of GEMS Education, on why governments can’t solve the education crisis alone.

Dino Varkey:  It’s unfortunate but we are going to be at least 50 to 57 million students short in terms of reaching that goal.  But for us it goes beyond just the number about access.  If you actually extend that number and think about the number of children that are forced to opt out of secondary school that adds another 70 million.  Then you actually look at illiteracy rates around the world and if you look at, you know, UN statistics you’re talking about 775 million young people that cannot read or write, mostly women and girls.

Then you tend to add population growth dynamics in emerging markets where the examples I’ve always used are if you just look at Brazil, Russia, India and China you would need to add 10,000 schools every year just to keep pace with the incremental population growth.  So that doesn’t take into account the fact that a place like India is short of 200,000 schools today.  So obviously when you put all of those numbers into context the scale of the challenge that we’re looking at extends to well over a billion young people and is accelerating away from us.  So the time to act is now from our perspective.

What you realize very, very quickly is that governments on their own cannot cater to this requirement.  You know that the voluntary sector, the NGO space on their own cannot cater to their space.  Private sector on its own can’t do this either.  What we absolutely see is that for us to address the size of the challenge you have to look at much more collaborative powerful partnerships between those three sectors in order to address the challenge.

I think the scale of the challenge essentially means that we have to find rapid solutions to scaling a quality education.  So it isn’t just about access but it’s about attainment as well.  I think one of the things that private sector with certainly the right values and the right objectives does have the incentive and the opportunity to scale a sustainable solution at pace.  But again private sector on its own will only ever be able to cater to one small component of the demand.  I think governments and especially what we would consider governments that have the foresight and the vision specifically to kind of throw aside the old intellectual debates about public versus private or just where the voluntary sector gets involved.  They actually have the ability to encourage and nurture these powerful partnerships.  So from our perspective private sector on its own can’t cater to this challenge.  We do need the support of visionary governments.

But actually the one group that needs to perhaps do more is actually industry.  And today if we think about global aid that goes to various initiative actually aid towards education still represents a fraction - so 600 million dollars only globally.  And today when you address the challenge that our young people are not coming out with the skills that they need in order to be able to access employment.  That is actually a challenge that private sector within industry needs to pick up.  The reality is without that support you are still gonna have a huge mismatch between the jobs that are available and the jobs that industry needs in order to drive sustainable economic growth versus actually the skills and attributes that our children come out with.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton