Our commitment to promoting the power of learning around the world has seen us invest in schools in Kenya and Ghana, support fledgling education businesses in India, and shine a light on exciting edtech startups in the US. Our latest activity takes us to the Philippines to fund the construction of a new chain of low-cost secondary schools – the Affordable Private Education Centres (APEC).
The first APEC school launched in Manila in Autumn 2013, with over a dozen more planned to be built across the region over the next two years. The new schools will provide education for children from low-income families, and will have a strong focus on readying students for entering and competing in the global employment market. So alongside the essential academic curriculum, pupils will develop professional skills in leadership, critical thinking and problem solving that should make them more employable.
This focus on bridging the skills and knowledge gap between education and occupation is one that is being mirrored globally. Around the world national governments are rethinking traditional school models that suddenly seem out of sync with the needs of a rapidly changing 21st century society. That shift – from knowledge-based to skills-orientated pedagogies – was recently picked up by our CEO John Fallon. Speaking ahead of the Economic World Forum earlier this month, he said “…investing in education is necessary to keep the economy growing“, and offered our own commitment on efficacy as an example of the bold thinking required. He continued:
“School curriculums and assessments need to be re-imagined to meet with the labor market needs of the 21st century. In this high stakes context, it is critical that we have a sophisticated understanding of what a good outcome looks like.”
The effectiveness of APEC’s holistic approach to schooling is born out in a recent piece by the Harvard Business Review. It points to the significant and measureable positives at companies that rely on skills based recruitment – in their sample these companies saw a 25-75 per cent reduction in turnover, a 40-70 per cent reduction in time to hire, a 70 per cent reduction in cost to hire, and a 50 per cent reduction in time to train.
APEC, which is a joint venture with the Ayala Corporation, marks the fourth investment made by the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF), which we established in July 2012 with a mandate to invest in companies that can build quality, affordable and scalable education solutions across the developing world. Sir Michael Barber, chairman of PALF, commented:
“… education has the power to transform lives and build nations. Ayala and Pearson are innovating together to build a school chain that will teach thousands of children, creating opportunities for a better future for them, their families and the country.”
Addressing the wider importance of this project for the Philippines, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Ayala’s CEO, said:
“There is strong global demand for Filipino talent and our vision is to deliver high quality, affordable education that can significantly enhance students’ employment potential.”
Read more about the APEC investment here.