by Credit Suisse

Education: the multiplier effect

The complexity and magnitude of problems currently faced by governments and individuals have few historical precedents. Our planet is under huge environmental pressure; wealth inequality is worsening, and workers face ever stiffer competition – increasingly from computers with deep artificial intelligence. These problems are interlinked, and education is pivotal to resolving them.

Credit Suisse has witnessed the life-changing impact of education on individuals, communities and societies.

At the current rate of progress, in 2030 there will be more than 800 million children and young people lacking the basic skills or qualifications for the modern workforce. To meet the UN’s fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) of ensuring universal primary and secondary education by 2030 – and fill an annual funding shortfall of $26bn – will require a radical response.

Get it right and it’s impossible to overstate the potential impact. If the world was to achieve universal upper-secondary education by 2030 it would bring forward the goal of eliminating poverty by 10 years. If all women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) completed secondary education, the mortality rate for children under five would fall by nearly half – a saving of three million lives annually.

The Value of Knowledge is not academic but profound.

“A lot of problems in life are education problems in disguise” — Tidjane Thiam, CEO, Credit Suisse

A new degree of openness

Over many years working with philanthropists, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations, it’s become clear that a rounded, rather than a siloed approach will shape the answers. This will require both education practitioners and investors to think and invest differently, and to communicate with each other with a new degree of openness.

“Education plays a key role in building sustainable and resilient societies,” asserts Michael Ward, Senior Policy Analyst, OECD. “Education is the foundation to achieve all the other SDGs.”

Leading not-for-profits have provided a framework for engagement, measuring success and achieving impact at scale in education. With the Value of Knowledge program, we want to build on that deep experience.

Read more - Part one - The multiplier effect
Read more - Part two - A call for collective creativity


You might like this

"A little push can really do wonders"

How the Roger Federer Foundation empowers local communities in Southern Africa

Shortly after winning his first tennis Grand Slam at Wimbledon at the age of 22, Roger Federer decided to pursue a very different goal.

“Because of my success, I was making some money on the tour and was able to pay coaches by myself,” he says. “It was time to think about what I could achieve, not just as a tennis player but also as a human being. I have been very fortunate and privileged in my life, so it was a good starting point to share that with the more unprivileged people in this world.”

The Roger Federer Foundation was born. Influenced by his visits to South Africa – his mother’s country of origin – he wanted to give less privileged children, who are at the beginning of their education path, access to quality education, with a geographical focus on Southern Africa and Switzerland. Currently, there are more than 300,000 children enrolled in the Foundation’s programs.

“We believe in the empowerment of children through education and that every child should have the opportunity of a good start in education,” says Roger Federer Foundation’s CEO, Janine Händel. “The two regions we are focusing on seem very diverse, but when it comes to education, and the needs of children, they are the same around the world. All young children learn through play. This is the same in Switzerland, as in Southern Africa, and that's why our approach to improving the quality of early education is universal.”

The power of local engagement

On the World Bank’s new measure of education, which combines quantity and quality of schooling, most countries in Southern Africa rank among the worst performers globally. Attendance and completion rates remain low.

Lack of community engagement compounds the problem. In many cases, education is regarded as a public good to be delivered by the government, with little to no involvement of local communities or parents. As a consequence, many schools lack funding, good governance or parental support, with a detrimental impact on the quality of education they offer.

Many of these schools operate in remote rural areas, where income levels are low and tuition fees are often beyond the means of parents. To ensure the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of projects, the schools need to generate external income streams.

Discover more content on the topics that inspire, engage and inform the world we live in today at the FT Channels hub.