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SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2010, 07:00 AM

WEF: think 'business unusual'

The great thinkers and tinkerers of global politics and business descended on Davos, Switzerland, for the 40th World Economic Forum last week. This year, in the snowy confines of this small Swiss village, the theme was: Rethink. Redesign. Rebuild. For me, the focus was: Education. Education. Education.

Each year, more is lost by a string of national economies from low quality education than the world lost from the financial crisis. Each year, the income lost by developing countries from not educating their girls is equal to the total aid they receive: about $100 billion.

Moral, humanitarian, and health reasons aside, WEF reminded us that providing education to every child is an economic argument, especially in today’s bleak climate.

A recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) argues that small educational improvements have enormous benefits: if all school systems in the industrialized world were on a par with Finland’s (which is the best), they’d gain $260 trillion over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010. That’s extra income six times the current GDP of these countries.

Education is also a deeply ingrained business interest. No wonder there was a plenary session devoted to the question of education last Saturday. Here and in private meetings, the private sector has begun to open up to arguments that they have a role to play in advancing the global education agenda.

How could they not? The lack of universal quality education is costing businesses around the world billions of dollars in lost trade, revenue, talented employees, innovations, and efficiencies.

Poor education means fewer customers and fewer talented recruits. It means countries burdened by debt, corruption, and waste. In short, the less education there is in the world the worse it is for businesses.

Today there are 72 million children out of primary school, with 300 million more in school receiving a poor education. In secondary education, millions more are graduating unable to read, write, or perform simple sums.

That’s a human tidal wave of illiteracy and poverty crashing down on our global economy, crushing families, communities, and whole countries.

This is unacceptable, whichever way you look at it, and should prompt some tough questions.

What are we doing about it? In 2000, the global community pledged to put every child in school by 2015, but at current rates 56 million primary school children won’t be so lucky.

Why the slow pace? Our global education architecture is fragmented, made up of bilateral donors, multilateral agencies, NGOs, foundations, corporations, and individual national governments. It’s like launching a large and complex business campaign, only to have all your departments work on it in isolation.

So our goals aren’t achievable? They absolutely are; despite obstacles, there have been some remarkable successes. India alone put 15 million more children into school between 2001 and 2003. Over the last ten years the number of out of school children in South and West Asia has halved. These facts dispel the myth that poor countries cannot achieve rapid progress.

What’s the issue, then? We’ve approached the education challenge “business as usual”: traditional methods, old solutions, same players. The result is a global education sector wrestling with what every business fears most: a lack of funding, investors (donors), and confidence.

What do we need? “Business unusual”: a bold, entrepreneurial, and creative approach, characteristic of the private sector.

Here are six areas that need a rethink:

First, the donors. The pool of countries investing their aid in education is limited. Expanding and diversifying their membership can widen avenues for new donors. We must stop thinking of China, Brazil, and India as just recipients of development aid and start thinking of them as partners in development.

Second, the money. Cash flows have slowed in recent years. Innovation can develop new ways to fundraise, breaking the mould of traditional dependence on donors. Issuing education bonds on capital markets is just one inventive approach to this intractable problem.

Third, the metrics. Our progress is measured by the easiest numbers to collect: enrollment. We need to redefine our business goals by focusing on standards not statistics: what children get out of education systems, not just the number of children we put in.

Fourth, the infrastructure. Poor organization leads to poor performance. The global education sector should unite under one roof. This would encourage predictable financing and coordinated aid, while inspiring greater confidence among donors.

Fifth, the mechanism. The Fast Track Initiative (FTI) was our new delivery chain launched in 2002 so donors’ cheques could reach children’s classrooms more quickly. Unfortunately, the process is hampered by slow procedures and minimal capacity. The result is that money still takes years to reach its destination. There are also few solutions available to help children most desperate for an education: those marginalized by conflict, amounting to a third of all out of school children. The FTI needs urgent and imaginative reform.

Sixth, the politics. None of this will happen if our leaders aren’t convinced to follow through on the pledges they’ve made. We need to persuade them it’s in all our interests that every child receives a quality education.

1GOAL, with the Global Campaign for Education, is an initiative to do just that. Partnered with FIFA, the South Africa World Cup, and a growing number of private sector companies, we’re gathering popular support to pressure politicians to live up to their promises.

If we’re going to give every child an education, we need to emulate the business world where entrepreneurs – bright and ambitious – throw the rule book out the window and try something different.

And, if you’re a business person, you have a part to play, too. With clout that can carry the education message to the halls of power, with leadership that can inspire change in how we help the most vulnerable, you can convince political leaders that global education is not just another social issue, it’s the social issue.

So bring your ingenuity and imagination and find new solutions to old problems. Fight for the right of every child to go to school as hard as you fight for your business interests. Because, in today’s world, they are one and the same.

Comments (34)
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Friday, June 4, 2010

salam alikum ur majesty
i am a proud jordanian citizen and i rly wanna thank u for being such an inspiration . wallahi ur majesty i am amom in a desperate need for ur help my three children were taken away from me and from mom to mom u sure do know how life can be empty and cruel without them even my youngest one and she is only 3 months old she needs to be fed and nurtured by her mom plzz ur majesty help me i have tried every single way and nothing is working out :"( wallahi i miss them i miss their sweet voices and their faces plzzzz ur majesty im begging frm mom to mom help me plzzz contact me my email is

Friday, May 28, 2010

asalamu 3alaykum wara7matu allah wabarakatuh , her majesty i am your servant samir from palestine 1948 from nazareth , i want 1st to express my feelings and emotions toward the king abdullah , So simply ..I love him.. please please please email me if you permit, i want your help and advice and permission to start build the first hashemite and jordanian school in nazareth in palestine.
my email is
best regards.

sir violet
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Help me!
For to contact Miss Rania?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hi, Your Majesty,
it's really good to hear about good educational iniatives around the globe but suddenly I realized I have no reason to be glad. I just read that Brazil got the 88th position on World Education Indexes.
Sad but true, our president is doing very good things everywhere but education still is a huge problem among us.
Hope everyday more and more private initiaves tries to sabe our children.
Congratulations on your job, I'm a big fan of yours.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

With my best wishes to all your initiatives. Never crosses. No more crosses. No more dead. Life at all. Life to innocent lambs. We are all the life of the universe. Thanks for giving voice to the voiceless. Thanks to the eternal strength of courage, never died. Thank you for reading my bad english. I speak the language of the universe, much more simple and concrete.

Slovenia_European Union
Friday, April 2, 2010

Dear Majest Queen Rania and other good jordanian people,

I am 27 years old Master of Economics and Business from Slovenia and would like to help to build future Jordan, to help jordanian people and general society cause I see Jordan as very perspective country. Thus, I am prepared to work hard for Jordan and for jordanian people. I am opened for any project, job, with which I could contribute to your beautiful land. If you are interested, contact me on:

Yours sincerely,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To the Humane Queen Rania;
Greetings and I pray my mail finds you and the Hashemite Family well and happy.
I have a proposal for a non-profit organization related to sustainability and more. I dare to think of it as such, that it will place Jordan on the world's map like never before, a one that relates to the core of your Household thinking, beliefs and aspiration.
I would like very much to be granted an audience with you in order to present the logical framework; time is of the essence.
We know there is so much to do and little time to do it, and please rest assured, I am not doing it for self gain, but for the love of God, King and Country, the bounties come naturally.
I have love for peace and passion for humane progress that is intelligent, genuine and valid.
Jordan is part of the holy land, it is about time we live holy! I believe in your good well and that of humans.
Your loyal humble subject,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Your Majesty,
i enjoyed and appreciated your husband's recent interview with Fareed Zakaria, and would like to share a comment here, as i was not able to find a contact on His Majesty's own website:
as the king spoke of his intent to reach out to the people of Israel with the question "where do you see your country in ten years?", it struck me that the question would be better phrased if the time frame suggested were 20, or even 50 years.

This might be a trivial distinction, but the natural tendency towards resignation in the face of strife (particularly in a condition of relative contentment, as that of the people within 'fortress Israel') can make a jump-forward of ten years feel like a part of "now". 20-50 years allows the mind to envision "the future", with all that it encourages.

I mention this because i feel that in its essence the intent of the question is excellent. Thank you and thanks to your husband, for your time and for all of your work.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

well, u r doing ur good job , wish half the people could think it ur way, the world would be much better ....

Monday, February 22, 2010

I’m in agreement with you, if poverty would be a fruit then ignorance ‘lack of education’ would be the tree and the root of all other misfortunes. Indeed knowledge is power.
The issue of education is one of grandest in scale, it is the tree, and oddly enough, we went about it the wrong way in the past as we did growing and farming trees. We were more concerned with the quantity of the fruits not the quality and I trust with this one as well we need to look into organic.
We have been training bodies, were we should have been opening the minds while educating the souls, endorsing knowledge as a mean for humane evolvement and healthy involvement, instead of mere qualified work force and to what end!
‘Gibran Khalil Gibran’ worded work as ‘work is love made visible!’, and it indeed the case. Teacher are not teaching, even worst, most are not qualified to teach to begin with. For it is, the majority of teachers nowadays, teaching has been reduced to a mean to an end, an income!
Sustainability is a path, where organic life can grow and foster, and education will be more than teaching abc.. Teachers meant to be the most knowledgeable of us all, they are meant to be equivalent to prophets, they meant to teach us to live and be alive, so we can too teach..
I believe, I’m and all of Jordan are fortunate to have you a Queen, and King Abdullah, our Teachers, I pray that you are blessed with good students.