Updated: Mar 7
By Maria Chiara Aquilino, 6th March 2021.
While the world has been hit by Covid-19, someone forgot to put the global education crisis on hold. Instead, the spread of the virus and the health emergency captured the attention of the globe and weakened the already fragile education system. Global education has always stumbled over obstacles created by the difficulty yet, at times, incapability of governments to allocate appropriate resources and investments, and above all by the struggle to address social disparities. However, the previously existing gap is deepening due to the inevitable effort of the public sphere to tackle the current pandemic, thus turning the distribution of national governments’ funds to education into a burden, since schooling does not represent a priority given the healthcare crisis.
In a scenario where the public sphere is immobilized by the pandemic, private businesses should take the lead. Investing in education, particularly in the current circumstances, would mean ensuring that the next generation of workers is not prevented from developing fundamental and required skills by the feebleness of the education system. After all, it is safe to assume that private companies could be among the most affected by a weak global education scheme (Winthrop et al., 2013). Therefore, financing global education could represent a remarkable asset with regards to Corporate Social Responsibility and even beyond that, it should be considered a key factor in the strategic growth of a company.
The making of education as a crucial point in one’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme could bridge the gap between private businesses and the global education crisis. In fact, it could constitute a first approach to the issue to the extent of implementing policies that are complementary to national governments’ agendas, aiming to raise the education indices and tackle social problems, while bearing in mind the diversified entity of school systems around the world (Malhotra, 2017). The promotion of schooling as well as training programmes would allow companies to revolutionize the environment in which they operate. The main reason behind this is that a boost of the education system would not only result in higher skilled future workers, but it would also have a deeply positive impact on social welfare. Human development and social progress can only be brought forward by a well-functioning and accessible education system, consequently producing a positive impact on labour productivity and on the national economic output (Winthrop et al., 2013). Therefore, the synergic cooperative action of private companies and national governments in the cultivation of human capital, could establish a much more favourable environment, both for businesses’ own gains and for the society itself (Camilleri, 2016).
Nevertheless, it can be argued that investing to foster the creation of a better, more equal and accessible education system represents a highly profitable opportunity for businesses, going far beyond the mere wish to do good for the society. Indeed, education is to be considered an essential aspect in the plan for strategic growth of companies. The reason why this stems from the close tie between education and development of countries, as the economic growth of a state inevitably depends upon its capability of producing skilled workers. Therefore, the promotion of good-quality education does not only stand as companies’ pursuit of UN Millennium Development Goals, but it actually symbolises a strategic growth constraint for businesses. Investing in education would contribute in the generation of a wider talent pool with more appropriate skills, which would clearly serve the purposes of the private sector and help increase businesses’ success in markets. This way, by being able to cut down on talent acquisition, training and retention costs, companies could indirectly enhance their profitability and increase their ability to scale up operations to meet the demand, expand their activity in new markets and invest in the innovation of their services (Winthrop et al., 2013).
Overall, the intervention of private businesses to save global public education from being jeopardized by the silent crisis, which it has been undergoing for a long time now, could be observed by some as a distortion of the core value of schooling and training youth. In other words, one could argue that private investments would only focus on the relevance of the education process for mere marketplace purposes, while putting aside the importance of the realisation of the individual potential (Draxler, 2014). Yet, one should take into consideration that the crucial boost that private businesses’ investment could give to global education would be hardly realisable through the sole action of national governments. Hence, fostering good-quality education would not only be profitable for businesses and for developing markets, but it would also be highly beneficial to individuals as basic living standards and wider accessibility to education would be promoted.