Education - The Foundation of Prosperity
As part of its GoTeach program, Deutsche Post DHL Group engages in advocating educational equity and improving employability worldwide. One partner in this effort is Teach For All. Frank Appel and Wendy Kopp talk about the challenges and the importance of education. Both call on society to assume responsibility for the next generation.
Frank Appel: "Investing in the education of the youth is an investment in the future."
Ms. Kopp, the Teach For All organization has entered its sixth year: What are the major hurdles facing educational opportunity worldwide?
Wendy Kopp: Nothing is more fundamental to our economic prosperity and to many other issues as well - from national security to environmental sustainability - than a proper education. This is often underestimated, and we need to overcome this misjudgment. All over the world, socioeconomic background predicts educational outcomes. It doesn't have to be this way - we can expand educational opportunities and decrease disparities.
Frank Appel: Politicians often argue with tight budgets when neglecting education in their agendas. In my opinion this argumentation simply misses the point. We need to realize just how important investing in the education of the youth is. It is an investment in the future. But this is not only a topic for governments and politicians. Companies need to contribute, too. This has been the driving force behind our partnership with Teach For All since its inception in 2010.
Leading international organizations such as UNESCO are already promoting education as a fundamental human right. Why is it therefore necessary to have programs run by social enterprises like Teach For All?
Wendy Kopp: We've seen the impact that social enterprises have had in catalyzing change within big systems. In Teach For All's case, we are recruiting just as aggressively as top corporations to channel the energy of top graduates towards improving education for the most disadvantaged students.
Frank Appel: The program brings a lot of reward for all participants. It is good for the children. It is good for their parents. It is good for the teachers in the schools because they get fresh wind from outside. And there is significant return for the so-called Fellows, who learn important soft skills they have not learned at university. Of course, there is also a reward for the companies supporting Teach For All, as we get access to talents we probably would never have seen had they applied elsewhere.
Wendy Kopp: "The corporate world benefits from well-educated employees worldwide."
Education and employability - a strong link?
Wendy Kopp: An incredibly strong one. Let me give an example: I visited a third standard classroom of a terribly under-resourced school in Delhi. I walked into a little room where twenty-four kids were sitting in rows with a teacher reading Oliver Twist [a sixth standard text], with them in English. These are students who one and a half years ago spoke no English. The teacher asked questions of the highest level of critical thinking, and the kids were literally at the edge of their seats. Watching this makes it clear that because of their education, these students will be on a different trajectory. These are kids who are on track to gaining strong college degrees and to having true professional options - such as becoming future Deutsche Post DHL Group employees, for example.
Mr. Appel, how does the corporate world benefit from Teach For All?
Frank Appel: Corporate organizations really profit by taking Fellows on board. These people were courageous enough to exit a steep career. Companies therefore have to give them comfort of being welcome and wanted as an asset to the organization. I have no doubt that while being part of Teach For All, these Fellows learn to think out of the box. This way of thinking is not very typical at business schools but is very enriching to every corporate organization.
Wendy Kopp: Even from the perspective of our mission, we need many of these people to enter the corporate world and ultimately assume leadership positions. Only then will it be possible to influence their colleagues and the overall civic community to make the necessary investments to ultimately ensure educational equity and excellence. Of course, it is also the corporate world that benefits from well-educated employees worldwide.