“Education actually represents the most significant opportunity if you want to actually tackle the world’s most pressing problems. We’ve certainly seen a shift when we’ve attended forums like this,” GEMS Education executive director Dino Varkey told CNBC Africa at the 44th World Economic Forum, currently underway in Davos, Switzerland.
“[It’s] the idea that education is that one true component that can actually allow nations to build critical infrastructure, allow competitiveness, allow us to tackle poverty [and] conflict. We see it as a significant issue that we need to try and mobilise significant political capital, as well as all of the key stakeholders to try and address.”
Education needs and standards have changed significantly, and while technology is fast-becoming a permanent feature in education, more still needs to be done to create a solid foundation phase in education.
“One of the key things that we’re very focused on is skills in schools, the idea of education for employability, that’s a significant issue. Things we’re doing in Africa specifically, we’re working with the hospitality sector to create hospitality and tourism schools to address that challenge,” Varkey explained.
“We’re working with the oil and gas sector in Nigeria in order to create a very specific programme. The reality is that today, the traditional mode of looking at graduates that don’t have the right fundamentals, employers are finding that a huge challenge. More and more, we’re actually engaging with private sector partners to try and come up with the right vocational or technical pathways.”
Varkey added that technology has however been a significant enabler for education, allowing for some of the costs of education to be potentially be brought down.
With almost every teacher owning a laptop, and almost every student having the ability to access content and sometimes their curriculum online, it also provides the ability to extend reach for both learner and student.
Cost is however a significant deterrent that prevents some parents from private school education. In many cases, public schools have a much lower education standard than private schools, which can act as a disadvantage when pursuing higher education.
There is however a new wave of schools that provides quality education for a much lower price tag than a private school would. GEMS Education is one of many education companies that provides quality education through a number of global values.
“We have schools today that are charging as little as three to five hundred dollars a year. At that level, we’re able to still send students to some of the best universities in the world like MIT,” said Varkey.