Education is a lifelong gift
One of Credit Suisse's three focus themes in corporate citizenship is education. We view education as an effective tool for delivering positive and lasting economic and social impacts. 10 years ago, Credit Suisse launched the Global Education Initiative (GEI). Together with selected not-for-profit organizations across the globe, the GEI aims to increase girls' financial capability and awareness of their social and economic rights, and to help them build better futures for themselves.
Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, once said: "Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family." Yet the world's poorest children are still highly likely to be excluded from education – and of these, girls are even more likely to be disadvantaged: 130 million girls are not in education, 15 million are expected to never enroll at all. Girls are 1.5 times more likely than boys to be completely excluded from primary education, and at the end of 2015 fewer than half of all countries had achieved gender parity in education at secondary level. Due to a combination of factors, many girls are forced to leave school while others never have the opportunity to go in the first place. That's something worth remembering, especially today, on International Day of the Girl Child.
A decade of commitment
This year marks the 10th anniversary of our two global initiatives (in Financial Inclusion as well as Education), and Credit Suisse is more than ever dedicated to continuing to work on educational challenges and supporting our partners. Over the first five years, the GEI targeted school-aged children in selected countries, developing strong partnerships with selected global not-for-profit organizations.
In 2014, the GEI decided to refocus the initiative towards Financial Education for Girls. This signature program teaches adolescent girls about their rights and responsibilities, saving and spending, planning and budgeting, as well as starting their own mini social and financial enterprises. By increasing girls' financial capability and awareness of their social and economic rights, the program helps girls in low-income countries build better futures for themselves. Phase 1 of the Financial Education for Girls program was implemented by Plan International and in 2017 Room to Read joined the program to commence Phase 2. Aflatoun International provides technical expertise and support to partners working in Brazil, China, India, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka.
Financial Education for Girls. Phase 1 Signature Program in numbers (2014-2016)
increase in girls' financial education and life skills
growth in planning and budgeting knowledge
increase in students saving money
more fathers "strongly agree" girls should learn financial skills
Through the Financial Education for Girls program, the GEI addresses two of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (ratified on January 1, 2016): Quality Education and Gender Equality, goals number 4 and 5 respectively.
Goal 4 focuses on the acquisition of basic and higher-level skills, greater and more equitable access to technical and vocational education and training as well as higher education, lifelong training, and the knowledge, skills, and values needed to function well and contribute to society.
Goal 5 aims to empower women and girls to reach their full potential, which requires eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against them, including harmful practices. It seeks to ensure that they have every opportunity for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, receive due recognition for their unpaid work, have full access to productive resources, and enjoy equal participation with men in political, economic, and public life.
To achieve these ambitious goals, public and private sectors must work hand in hand. For example, earlier this month Room to Read provided an opportunity for Credit Suisse to partner by joining Goalkeepers ‒ a multi-year campaign dedicated to accelerating progress towards the SDGs that was established by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Room to Read and Credit Suisse aim to accelerate early literacy and implement systemic change in the education system across India.
By providing quality educating to all children across the globe, we are shaping our own future. Today's kids will build the world of tomorrow, and we need to make sure they are all well-equipped to do that.