Unicef and Pearson Announce Innovation Talks

Unicef and Pearson Announce Innovation Talks

Organisations to collaborate on how innovation can help the world’s most marginalised children 

Unicef UK and Pearson are holding a series of high level events over the next year which will bring together experts, thought-leaders and innovators from a range of industries and countries across the world. The ‘Activate Talks’ will examine how new technologies, products and businesses can help tackle the major issues confronting the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised children.

The talks will hold particular relevance for the Middle East, where conflict and civil strife continue to disrupt the education systems of several countries across the region. According to Unicef’s 2014 “Out of School Report” for the Middle East and North Africa, 4.3 million primary-aged children and 2.9 million lower secondary-aged children not in school. If one year of pre-primary education is included – the foundation on which a child’s future learning is built – a staggering 12.3 million children across 20 countries in the region are being left behind.

Pearson’s Managing Director in the Middle East, Karim Daoud, believes the Activate Talks will go some way to improving the outlook for marginalised children in the region by making innovative education solutions more widely available. Mr Daoud says:

“By bringing together development professionals, innovators and businesses to address this issue, the Activate Talks can have a real impact on communities which don’t enjoy the access to education that they deserve. Whether access is restricted by cultural factors, issues with transportation or simply cost, Pearson and Unicef UK hope this new dialogue leads to new partnerships and solutions which contribute to addressing these important challenges in the Middle East and around the world”.

The first in this series of Activate Talks took place in London on the 25 June on the topic of Future Learning. It focussed on the challenge of addressing the learning needs of the world’s young people, an estimated 250 million of which are unable to read and write. Moderated by BBC Click presenter Spencer Kelly, speakers included:

  • Juan Pablo Giraldo Ospino: Innovation Specialist at UNICEF Education
  • Tom Hall: VP – Technology Delivery, Growth Markets at Pearson
  • Mike Muller: Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer at ARM Holdings
  • Dr. Aiman Badri: National Programme Officer for UNESCO in Sudan
  • Kate Radford: Innovation Programmes Manager at War Child Holland
  • Alison Naftalin: Founder & CEO at Lively Minds
  • Juan Santander: Chief of Social Policy, Planning, M&E at UNICEF Lebanon
  • Zoe Peden: Co-Founder & Chief Juggler at Insane Logic
  • Vu Bui: COO of Mojang

Katherine Crisp, Unicef UK’s Head of Strategy and Innovation, said: “10 years ago, no-one in development imagined they would be using mobile phones to gather real-time information.

Today UNICEF uses them to report every birth in Nigeria, track educational supplies in Uganda and engage with over 800,000 young people globally via U-Report. However, this is just the start. Through our series of Activate Talks we want to foster dialogue, explore challenges, share different approaches and spark collaborations with new people. Together we want to build a better future for children.”

Amanda Gardiner, Pearson’s VP of Sustainability and Social Innovation, said: “Globally 58 million children are out of school and 250 million leave without basic skills. These vulnerable children need our help to receive the education they so rightfully deserve to make progress in their lives. We are delighted to be working with Unicef UK on this Activate Talks series. We want to spark innovative solutions to help tackle the challenges that affect the most marginalised children around the world.”

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