Knowledge is power: education as a key to changing the world

Over seven million adults cannot read or write, and almost 60 million children do not have a basic education. To change this the UN wants to enable all people everywhere in the world to have access to high-quality education. Businesses and institutions can also help achieve this goal. Here we explain how.

«Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.» Nelson Mandela knew exactly what he was talking about. To this day education remains one of the keys to enabling countries to develop. Whether fighting poverty, hunger or disease, education is one of the basic tools for enabling sustainable development all over the world. Mandela wasn’t the only person aware of the power and impact of education. The UN has also adopted it as one of the main goals in its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Under the banner of «quality education» it calls for quality primary education and lifelong learning for all children, young people and adults – coordinated and aligned with their individual needs and circumstances.

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Quality education | The goal under the agenda is for all people worldwide to have access to quality education by 2030. Education brings development. Image: Pexels

Development thanks to education

Switzerland has an advanced educational system, comprising a comprehensive basic education and dual vocational education and training. In this country basic education, vocational training and socioprofessional integration are carefully coordinated, and recognised as key to Switzerland’s economic and social development. To achieve the UN’s ambitious goals and promote such a high quality of education outside Switzerland as well will require the involvement of many different players, including businesses and institutions, working to ensure quality education for everyone.

Promoting exchange

Schools, educational establishments and universities, for example, can send teachers to foreign schools to share their knowledge and expertise and help establish high-quality forms of teaching. The same institutions also have the option of offering students from countries with a lower standard of education grants or exchange semesters for study in their own countries. This gives them the opportunity to broaden their educational horizons and attend school or university despite a lack of financial means.

Quality infrastructure and teaching materials

It’s not just educational establishments that have the means to work for equal opportunity and quality in education. A good infrastructure is also an important prerequisite for setting up good schools and educational services. Construction companies can play a part by getting involved in building a school in a developing country. Companies that manufacture construction tools or building materials can donate products to school construction projects or sell them at a lower price. The same option is open to companies that produce office materials, IT equipment and furniture, all of which are essential when it comes to setting up good schools. Schools and universities can collect old teaching materials in a container and donate them to developing countries. A company that doesn’t have any of these options can of course make a donation. NGOs such as Enfants du Monde and Co-Operaid working for quality education in developing countries are reliant on financial support.

Communication makes you more attractive

The next step is to communicate your efforts. The key is to recognise the potential of communicating. Visibly communicating good work can make an organisation more attractive, not just in the sense of saying «we’re a morally good company, so buy our products», but also in terms of attracting potential staff. These days voluntary work abroad or work and travel schemes are experiencing a real boom. If a company can offer its staff opportunities of this sort it’s a great plus. Your involvement should be described not just in job ads, but on your website as well. Project days on the theme of “education for all” organised with the active involvement of staff, with the media invited to cover the event, are another way of communicating involvement outside the organisation.

Other options are media such as websites, social media and brochures, or even product packaging mentioning the work you’re doing. There are many different online and offline alternatives. Whatever you decide to do, it makes sense to communicate your engagement via different channels. You shouldn’t underestimate the potential and the power of communications. Education may be the most powerful weapon for changing the world, but communication is the most powerful weapon for letting people see what your organisation stands for.

Polarstern Agenda 2030 Ziele  Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

Concrete engagement for the 2030 Agenda

In 2015 the United Nations passed its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It comprises 17 main goals that the internationl community aims to achieve by 2030. We are publishing a series of news items and describing all these goals and how organisations and institutions can work towards them. In each article we’ll also be giving tips on how to effectively communicate this engagement.

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