INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS ACROSS NIGERIA URGED TO “JOIN MISSION TO IMPROVE GLOBAL EDUCATION” BY JOINING NEW REPRESENTATIVE BODY FOR THE WORLDWIDE INDEPENDENT K-12 EDUCATION SECTOR

  • Andreas Schleicher
  • Independent schools across Nigeria, including the 50,000 plus elementary schools with over 5 million pupils enrolled were today urged to join the Global independent Schools Association (GISA) which will provide a strong and united voice for the independent K-12 sector – filling a representation void of a sector that educates 350 million children worldwide – including 52% of secondary school children in South Asia.

Nigerian independent schools, which collectively educate over 5 million pupils at elementary level alone, were today urged to join forces with schools from across the world in the first worldwide representative body for the K-12 independent education sector – the Global Independent Schools Association. A key aim of the organisation will be to improve education provision throughout the world, in all sectors, by sharing knowledge.

According to recent figures from the World Bank, over 23% of secondary school pupils and 11% of primary school pupils in Nigeria are enrolled in an independent institution – whether not for profit, profit, run by a private body such as a non-governmental organization, religious body, special interest group, foundation or business enterprise.

The new body, which was launched today, with an urgent call for greater knowledge sharing between the independent sector and governments to help improve education across the world. Crucially, GISA hopes to make its voice heard as a valued partner in achieving SDG4: ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030.

Founder of GEMS Education Sunny Varkey, who also founded the Global Teacher Prize and is a signatory of the Giving Pledge, urgently rallied leaders across the global independent education sector to form the new body off the back of September’s UN General Assembly where it became increasingly clear that the time is running out to achieve SDG4. He is now urging independent schools across Nigeria to bring their knowledge, expertise, and frontline experiences of educating children from vastly different backgrounds to this group.

Sunny Varkey, Founder of GISA, said:

“I urge Nigerian independent schools to join this new global representative body.  Nigeria’s huge variety of independent schools are shouldering a huge responsibility for educating the nation’s children.  They have a huge body of knowledge that can be used within their sector – and beyond – to help improve education around the world.  For the future of children in and out of school globally, it’s vital that they make their voice heard.   

“Any policy discussion on education or the future economy that doesn’t include the independent sector is missing out on a vital perspective from schools that, each day, see in sharp detail the challenges and the opportunities experienced by Nigeria’s young people. 

“This frontline expertise of educating children from vastly different backgrounds will make efforts to improve education provision throughout the world more effective”.  

This global association seeks to co-ordinate, represent, and give a voice to the global K-12 independent education sector – which educates 350 million children around the world. It aims to become the “go to” voice for the independent education sector, showcasing its impact, and acting as a resource for the world’s governments and global institutions to tap into, talk to, and, in times of crisis, lean on. It will provide a forum for the sector to share its vast body of accumulated knowledge and expertise within the independent sector.  At the same time, it aims to work with policymakers and governments throughout the world to help raise standards in schools of every background, whether public, independent or third sector.

Speaking in support of GISA’s launch, Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills for the OECD, said:  “Getting the independent sector to raise its voice in service of the public good is hugely important. Tomorrow’s economy will be unforgiving for those without a strong education and skills for the future. Unless the independent sector joins others – governments, business, NGOs – to work out how we educate and skill up a new generation, valuable expertise will remain siloed, and solutions will be lost”.

For the first time, some of the leading names in global K-12 independent education have united to form this new body. GISA’s Executive Board which will shape its strategic direction includes Andrew Fitzmaurice, CEO of Nord Anglia Education; Sunny Varkey, Founder of GISA, Nadim Nsouli, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Inspired Education; Frank Maassen; Group CEO of Cognita; Brian Rogove, Group CEO of XCL Education; and Dino Varkey, CEO of GEMS Education. The association launched with a call to action to attract members from around the world, whether they are a single classroom private school in a low-income country, a school run by a charity or foundation, or a school operating within a multinational chain.

Influential education luminaries have also agreed to join the Advisory Board of GISA to help shape its strategy and direction. Members include Victoria Colbert, Columbia’s former Vice-Minister of Education and Executive Director of Fundación Escuela Nueva; Sir Anthony Seldon, former Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University; Professor Li Wei, Director and Dean of the UCL Institute of Education; Vijay Kumar, Executive Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab at MIT; Dr Siva Kumari, former Director General of the International Baccalaureate; and Trevor Rowell, Chair of the Council of British International Schools.

Andrew Fitzmaurice, CEO of Nord Anglia Education and Chairman of the GISA’s Executive Board, said:

“Independent schools are often centres of innovation that introduce new methodologies, pedagogic styles, and technologies. GISA members can provide considerable insight and best practice, which can be shared to benefit state and independent schools everywhere. From important areas such as supporting the professional development of teachers to the latest uses of technology in teaching and learning, we can make an even greater impact on education by working together.”

Sunny Varkey

Professor Li Wei, Director and Dean of the UCL’s faculty of Education and Society said:

“Meeting the SDGs on education is an urgent priority for individuals and societies around the world, in support of human flourishing and economic prosperity.  We need to foster dialogue across all parties seeking to improve access to, experience in and outcomes from education, to share evidence and front-line experience, in single-minded pursuit of progress for all learners”.    

Sunny Varkey added “Despite educating 350 million children around the world, in schools that are as diverse as the communities they serve, insights from the independent education sector do not always have the impact they deserve in global debates and on government policy. Yet the sector, with its vast enrolment in the developing world, and immense diversity ranging from historic institutions to low-cost schools in the poorest communities, has a vast wealth of front-line experience”.

With 35 per cent of children in least developed countries (as classified by the UN) attending schools in the non-state sector and 18 per cent in fragile and conflict affected situation according to the World Bank, GISA particularly hopes to share the impact and innovations from these schools to help deliver a quality education in parts of the world where it is most urgently needed. GISA believes this is more important with data showing that on average, students globally are eight months behind where they would have been due to the pandemic (McKinsey, 2022).

GISA members will be able to share knowledge, co-create resources, and receive access to cutting-edge research and reports, innovative workshops, and prestigious events. GISA also aims to hold an annual conference where governments, businesses, NGOs, and leading thinkers will gather once a year for a high-level discussion on how to speed up the goal of achieving quality education for all.

350 million children worldwide educated in the independent sector (UNESCO, 2021)

  • Since 2000, private education has been the fifth-largest and fastest-growing segment of consumer spend globally (LEK, 2021). As a result, independent education is a major player in educating children throughout the world:
  • 30% of primary education in high income countries is delivered by independent institutions, as is 26% of primary education in middle income countries (World Bank, 2021).
  • In South Asia 52% of secondary pupils attend independent institutions, as do 45% of primary school pupils in Latin America (World Bank, 2021).
  • Independent run schools serve one in four children globally, with provision growing at 3% year-on-year for the last three years (LEK, 2021).

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