UK government and global companies in new £20m partnership to educate girls in developing countries – Reuters


The UK is launching a new global partnership with the private sector to improve girls’ access to education and employment in developing countries.

  • to mark international women’s day [8 March]Prime Minister Boris Johnson will launch a new global partnership with 11 companies to improve girls’ access to education and jobs in developing countries
  • the UK government is contributing £9m, with companies providing a total of £11m
  • the program aims to provide high quality vocational training to approximately 1 million girls around the world
  • Improving girls’ access to education is a key part of UK foreign policy, to ensure we build back better after the pandemic and avoid a lost generation. Investing in education lifts communities out of poverty and protects girls from early marriage, forced labor and gender-based violence

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is launching a new £20million business partnership as the UK continues to lead global efforts to improve girls’ access to education in developing countries.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of children did not have access to school – and girls from disadvantaged families are particularly vulnerable to lack of education, whether due to poverty or prejudices. The pandemic has created even more barriers to education, with a peak of 1.6 billion children worldwide facing school closures.

In the first education partnership of its kind in the UK, the UK government is partnering with the private sector to improve girls’ access to education in developing countries. Partners include Unilever, Pearson, PwC, Microsoft, Accenture, Standard Chartered, United Bank for Africa, Coursera, Vodafone, BP and Cognizant. The UK government will work in partnership with UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited (GenU) to help implement the programme, with key partners funding GenU being Accenture, Standard Chartered, Unilever, Microsoft and United Bank for Africa.

Yesterday evening [7 March], a reception was held at 10 Downing Street to mark the announcement and International Women’s Day, attended by partners including: Jill Huntley, Global Managing Director, Corporate Citizenship at Accenture; Dr Betty Vandenbosch, Chief Content Officer at Coursera and Marissa Thomas, Chief Operating Officer at PwC.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

The UK has long been a proud and powerful champion of this fundamental cause and today we are taking a step further with our first global partnership of its kind – opening up the possibility for one million girls in the developing world to have access to high quality professional training. .

Ensuring that every girl and young woman around the world receives 12 years of quality education is the best tool in our arsenal to end the world’s great injustices.

Fulfilling this mission will be one of the best defenses against ignorance, provide the greatest protection against prejudice, and put a rocket propellant behind our hopes and dreams for global development in the years to come.

Businesses, charities, schools and colleges will soon be able to bid for program funds. The partnership wants to support projects that will improve access to education for girls, with a focus on providing the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills needed to find work in key sectors such as as technology and manufacturing. This could include funding new vocational training programmes, improving teaching or redesigning training to make it more relevant to business needs. Initially, bids will be encouraged for projects in Nigeria and Bangladesh, two countries where significant barriers to girls’ education remain.

Funding from the program will also help expand GenU’s “Passport to Earning” (P2E) platform. This digital skills platform will provide girls with free, certified education and skills training that they can then use to support future employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. UNICEF’s precursor to P2E was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2021.

Some of the companies involved will contribute a range of resources, including books, computers and other technology, mentors, advice and access to their networks, skills and training programs. The involvement of the private sector will help ensure that education and learning opportunities provide girls with the future-oriented skills that employers need.

The UK is playing a leading global role in improving girls’ education in developing countries. During Britain’s G7 presidency last year, he secured a deal to help get 40 million more girls into school by 2026; and second, helping 20 million girls learn to read by the age of 10 by 2026. In 2021, the UK hosted a successful Global Education Summit, which raised $4 billion dollars in pledges from world leaders to support schools through the Global Partnership for Education. Between 2015 and 2020, the UK helped at least 15.6 million children in developing countries get a decent education, including 8.1 million girls.

We have already seen considerable success with similar skills programs such as the Alternative Learning Program (ALP) in Bangladesh. This involved training marginalized young girls with the skills they needed to be able to obtain jobs in sectors of demand, which gave these young girls more economic, social and personal freedom. As a result, the program saw a 62% reduction in child marriage among the girls and families involved.

Similarly, the “Educate! across Uganda and Rwanda offered industry-specific sessions (agriculture and tourism) for girls, as well as sessions to build their literacy skills. This program has seen a 120% increase in earnings for participants.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said:

Supporting women and girls is at the heart of British foreign policy. We want women to be able to decide their own lives and be free to succeed.

Investing in girls’ education is vital for a more sustainable, peaceful and prosperous future. That’s why we partner with the private sector to help girls in developing countries access education and job opportunities.

Helen Grant, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education, said:

Every girl, everywhere, deserves an education.

From school to the workplace, our partnership will help give women and girls the skills they need to reach their full potential.

Kevin Frey, CEO of Generation Unlimited said:

The Girls’ Education Skills Partnership exemplifies the commitment of the UK government and the private sector to addressing the critical skills gap for girls for 21st century opportunities.

P2E is an innovative skills platform designed with partners to reach girls everywhere, every time, preparing them with relevant and in-demand skills.


  • the program is called Girls’ Education Skills Partnership
  • the £11m provided by the companies is a mix of funding and resources
  • GenU (hosted within UNICEF) will manage the funding which will be open to tender
  • companies funding GenU are Accenture, Standard Chartered, Unilever, Microsoft and United Bank for Africa
  • seven countries have been identified for the Passport to Earning (P2E) platform: Brazil, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Niger, Egypt and India

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