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Google, BMW and Tata join innovative new Rapid Education Action Database to deliver education in humanitarian emergencies

Wednesday, 21 September 2016 13:04 GMT

Syrian child in double shift school in Beirut, Lebanon. Credit: Theirworld

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Research shows that the main obstacles to global education after a conflict or natural disaster are lack of school buildings, textbooks and teaching materials, internet connectivity, trained teachers, school transport, and the logistics to get educate children on the move.

The Global Business Coalition for Education today aims to help solve this by launching REACT: the Rapid Education Action Database. It will directly match companies and services to the education needs and ensure that when a crisis happens we effectively mobilize the private sector to support the delivery of education for refugees and children whose education is disrupted.

Already over thirty companies have joined REACT including Google, BMW and Tata.

Engineering companies can offer to provide school buildings, working with struggling governments. Social media giants can work with local telephone providers to set up high-speed Internet connectivity. Teacher organizations can mobilize volunteers to supplement teachers, on the ground and online. The smartest innovators can lend their time to crack the problems that governments can’t.

“If we get this right, the people traffickers and terrorist recruiters miss out. We will get education to many of the 75 million young people out of school, who will go on themselves to be teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs. Business will have a pool of talent from which to recruit and build. The next Einstein, Marie Curie, Mandela or Gates will make the scientific, medical, political or technological breakthrough that changes our lives”, said Tom Fletcher, Director of Global Strategy for the Global Business Coalition for Education.

Consultancy companies such as Boston Consulting Group have come forward to offer time and brainpower on the practical problems holding back education provision. Carrefour, Aeromexico, and Hewlett Packard are offering logistical support on the ground. Unilever are already providing several hundred thousand pounds worth of expertise and products.

Lebanese technology companies such as Techfugees, the UK/Lebanon Tech Hub and Alt City are bringing ingenuity and time to the challenge. Today Alt City are launching a competition for startups to join the effort. Universities such as Oxford, Kiron and New York are opening up places for students and faculty, backed by companies such as BMW. Others are pledging significant finance directly to the Education Cannot Wait fund, for research, humanitarian action and recruitment.

“GBC-Education is working with the Education Cannot Wait Fund to identify the gaps in the existing education response. We are sharing detailed research on the specific obstacles to education for displaced Syrians, and where business can best help. We want tangible, practical requests for support that we can take to our members, partners and the wider private sector. If they tell us they need books, we will find the books. If they tell us they need technology, we will find the technology. That way we can see if this model works, and – if so - scale it up so that business can better play its role at the heart of the education response” said Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education.