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Bold Partnerships are the Keys to Creating Education for a Sustainable Future

Published 09/08/2015 by Global Communities

Bold Partnerships are the Keys to Creating Education for a Sustainable Future
By Tochi Izegbu and Krsna Powell, Global Communities
This article originally appeared on CSRwire.
As the lines between the private, public, and civil society sectors continue to blur, the way we approach education will need a serious makeover. The world we live in has become increasingly multifaceted and complex, and our labor forces need to be equipped with the right mix of skills. The post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) give education a stand-alone objective: “Goal 4:  Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” This goal dramatically leapfrogs from its predecessor (Millennium Development Goal 2: achieve universal primary education) and underscores the importance of an affordable, available, and quality education for all citizens worldwide But how do we best define education?  Behavior change programming? Technical and vocational education training (TVET)? Formal primary, secondary, and tertiary instruction? For all of these, multi-sector partnerships can eliminate barriers to access and address learning challenges to improve the quality of education in unique and innovative ways outside of the traditional classroom.

The MENA-YES program works to to ensure that youth receive the technical and soft skills training necessary to be employed after graduation.
A solid example of how multi-stakeholder partnerships can make an impact on global education and workforce development is the direct partnership between private sector companies, education institutions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to link curriculum design with labor market needs.  Global Communities, an international NGO operating in more than 20 countries worldwide, aims to reduce youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa region. Through funding from a private sector partner, the $4.4 million, 3-year MENA-YES program was established to ensure that youth receive the technical and soft skills training necessary to be employed after graduation.
What makes this particular collaboration unique is the model itself. After an intensive labor market assessment was conducted in each country, sector advisory committees were created including educational institutions, local private sector leaders, and Global Communities program staff. These committees were responsible for identifying the types of jobs needed, developing curriculum, offering input to training institutions on skill areas to emphasize, conducting candidate interviews to provide feedback on job readiness, and identifying apprenticeships or full-time employment opportunities post-graduation.
For example, in Jordan hybrid cars are increasingly used for driving services, largely motivated by the need to reduce gas costs. However, the country lacked trained hybrid car mechanics to support vehicle maintenance. Consequently, the Global Communities team engaged a local university to design curriculum based on its auto mechanic program and the sector advisory committee provided feedback. A comprehensive training program was launched concentrating on the technical aspects of hybrid cars and important business principles. This alliance exemplifies how multi-sectoral partnerships can directly support economic development based upon education and labor market synergies.
Traditional approaches – while necessary – will be insufficient to tackle the global challenge of universal access to quality, affordable education. Impactful multi-stakeholder partnerships require co-creation and iteration in order to achieve the best results. To prepare for the challenges that lie ahead, our educational approaches require innovations that keep pace with a fast-changing world and the challenges and opportunities it will bring.