Upcoming Online Event: Measuring and Maximising Social Impact  – A focus on learning and digital opportunities

By Annabel Beales, Writer, Business Fights Poverty

As part of Business Fights Poverty NYC Online 2020, Business Fights Poverty and Anglo American are convening a webinar and online peer discussion to explore how the field of education has been transformed in response to COVID-19, and how the lessons learned can help us address other social challenges.

As part of Business Fights Poverty NYC Online 2020, Business Fights Poverty and Anglo American are convening a webinar and online peer discussion to explore how the field of education has been transformed in response to COVID-19, and how the lessons learned can help us address other social challenges.

The webinar will take place on Monday, 21st September at 10AM EDT / 3PM BST, followed by 30 minutes Peer Discussion ending at 11:30AM EDT / 4:30PM BST.

Please register here to attend. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardised the learning of students across the world. At its peak, almost 1.6 billion children in 193 countries worldwide – 91% of the world’s student population – were affected by school closures.

Prolonged disruption to education will widen existing inequalities. Many families rely on the additional community support services that schools provide, such as school meals, and parents may be unable to work with children at home. Out of school, girls in particular face increased risks of gender-based violence, early marriage and pregnancy. In the long term, the education funding gap is widening, and it is estimated that nearly 24 million more children and youth may be unable to access education as a result of the pandemic’s economic impact.

In response to these threats, there has been an unprecedented multi-sectoral drive to accelerate access to remote learning and to ensure it is effective – through digital and other means. How can we take the lessons that have been learned in the field of education and apply them to address other social challenges?

In advance of our upcoming webinar, this article introduces some insights from the experience of our co-host, Anglo American, in responding to the pandemic through its own Education Programme.

The Anglo American Education Programme 

Anglo American is one of the world’s largest mining companies, with a purpose to “Reimagine Mining to Improve People’s Lives’. Its Sustainable Mining Plan, launched in 2018, is based on three Global Sustainability Pillars: to be a Trusted Corporate Leader; to maintain a Healthy Environment; and to build Thriving Communities.

Education is an important part of the Thriving Communities Pillar. Many of the public schools within Anglo American’s rural host communities are of below-average quality. Consequently, students often face poor employment prospects with knock-on impacts for the wellbeing of the community as a whole. The Education Programme strengthens school performance so that students can thrive within their communities and beyond by obtaining the skills and knowledge to secure quality employment, with Anglo American or other employers, or pursue other economic activity confidently.

Anglo American’s Education Programme will develop partnerships with over 500 schools, primarily in South Africa, Zimbabwe, UK, Canada, Australia, Peru, Chile and Brazil. In South Africa, Anglo American have already partnered with the Government’s Department of Basic Education, working in 109 public schools to support 72,000 students.

With digitisation and automation on the rise, many of the Programme’s initiatives focus on STEM in order to help students navigate the changing future of work. In Chile, Anglo America is working with 102 schools and 52 technical schools with a focus on technology; in the UK, it has entered a partnership with UK Engineering and has signed up to the Code, to increase the number and diversity of people entering engineering as a profession; and in Canada there is a focus on STEM, vocational training and girls’ education.

What is the Education Programme’s approach to measuring and monitoring impact? 

The Education Programme aims to strengthen state/public schools in host communities, so that their high school leaver results are within the top 20% of state / public schools in that country by 2030. In working towards this target, the Education Programme seeks to achieve gender balance and include children with disabilities.

Anglo American has set high-level goals for each of its Programmes for 2025 and 2030. Every regional programme has annual targets to build towards these overall goals and achieve long-term, sustainable impact.

Measurement and Evaluation are a core part of the strategy. Targets consider outcomes – for example school leaver results – rather than measuring inputs or outputs. Third party independent assessors are used to identify baselines and assess annual outcomes, to ensure accountability and transparent reporting.

Has COVID-19 changed the way the Education Programme is delivered, and how? 

Pre-pandemic, the Education Programme was delivered in-person, working directly with teachers and governing bodies. The Programme takes a holistic approach, addressing factors such as health and gender-based violence that can affect students’ learning. COVID-19 introduced new barriers to education, causing the focus and delivery of the Programme to shift.

The digital equality gap was an obstacle to embracing digital learning, so Anglo American widened access to devices and internet connectivity in its communities. Additionally, the Programme provided learning content and trained teachers to use digital and online tools effectively.

The Education Programme also helped develop measures and behavioural protocols to keep children safe as they return to the classroom. Many of the schools lack good infrastructure to start with, so this has been a particular challenge.

At the heart of the response has been a reliance on innovation and determination. In the words of Zaheera Soomar, Anglo American’s Head of Education:

“We are not returning to what we called “normal” and therefore cannot sit and wait for normal to return before we continue delivering. We have had to adapt all of our support and adjust it to the new normal and will continue to adapt to ensure our kids do not get left behind.”

What transferable lessons have been learned that could be applied to other social challenges?

Zaheera Soomar has provided some insights from Anglo American’s Education Programme, in advance of the online event:

  • The pandemic has highlighted the resilience of communities and the potential of collaborative partnerships in the face of crisis.
  • Digital and technology has become increasingly important. It is vital we upskill to ensure individuals can participate in the economy and the future of work, and that technology is integrated in a way that maintains human connection and benefits people individually as well as organisations as a whole.
  • We need to be deliberate about creating transformative change. One way is through bigger collaborations between technology companies and those working to deliver social goods, for example in education and health.
  • It is crucial to measure and monitor the right impacts, and to ensure that the benefits are being felt by those who are most in need.

Above all, there is cause for optimism: “We have the ability to fast track and progress significantly when we are pushed to do so. Under the right conditions, we can make leaps and bounds if we want to.”

How Can I Find Out More? 

In our webinar and peer discussion on Monday, 21st September at 10AM EDT / 3PM BST, our panel of experts and practitioners will dive into key innovations in the field of education, and how these can be applied to addressing other social challenges.

Questions for consideration will include:

  • Since COVID-19, what are the biggest changes to delivering learning and education programmes and what is the role of the private sector?
  • What can we transfer from the space of education and learning that could be useful as we try to measure and maximise other big social challenges?
  •  How can we work better together to realise the future we want?

Please register here for the event. We look forward to seeing you there.

Editor’s Note:

This online event on Measuring and Maximising Social Impact is part of Business Fights Poverty NYC Online 2020, a one-week, online conference (21 to 25 September) that builds on our recent online conference Business Fights Poverty Online 2020 (13 to 17 July) to drive forward connection, conversations and collaboration around how we rebuild better – how together we create an equitable and resilient world. 

The week consists of inspiring and engaging content, live events, peer networking and community-led learning. The week also builds on our Business and COVID-19 Response with Harvard Kennedy School Corporate Responsibility Initiative, and supported by DFID and a number of our corporate partners.

Each day, we will focus on a specific theme: Imagining the Future We Want (Monday); Creating an Equitable World (Tuesday); Helping People Survive and Thrive (Wednesday); Building Resilient Livelihoods (Thursday); Shaping System-Level Partnerships (Friday).

The conference Headline Supporter is Visa. Our Supporting Partners are Mars, Nestlé, and Standard Chartered. Content partners include Harvard Kennedy School Corporate Responsibility Initiative, the UN Office for Partnerships, WBCSD, Business in the Community, The Partnering Initiative and the League of Intrapreneurs.

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