Education International
Education International

Davos: EI General Secretary asks business community to support teaching profession and public education

published 26 January 2015 updated 6 February 2015

Speaking during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Education International’s General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen asked the business community to support public school systems and help teachers improve education quality.

Our education systems are probably the most successful public enterprise ever, Fred van Leeuwen told an audience of business leaders in Davos on 23 January. "But do not expect that you can place an order for a particular soft skill today and get it delivered tomorrow before noon.” Education and skill development are a time consuming processes, he said in a panel discussion on the role of the private sector in education.

Van Leeuwen proposed that a dialogue be established between industry and the teaching profession on skill demand trends in the labour market. Such dialogue should also be encouraged at the school and company level. The Education International (EI) general secretary said that the education sector and teaching ranks “can learn from industry as industry can also learn from us, particularly in understanding our students' readiness and interests, and their confidence in entering the post-school world.”

Van Leeuwen stressed schools’ crucial role in imparting democratic and human rights values and to teach social and civic responsibility. “If we do not pay the necessary attention to that, others will, with possibly serious consequences.”

Responding to the question what support the Education community expects from the business community Van Leeuwen didn’t mince his words: “Pay your corporate taxes and help provide the fiscal basis required for governments to run quality school systems."

The panel discussion was organized by the Varkey Foundation as part of the “Business Backs Education” campaign, which is to encourage the business community to help achieve Education For All (EFA).