UNESCO and Varkey GEMS Foundation Announce Program To Train 10,000 School Principals at Clinton Global Initiative

Sep 22, 2011, 16:36 ET from GEMS Education

training 10,000 principals will impact 10 million children

UNESCO and Varkey GEMS Foundation leadership available for interview

NEW YORK, Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Varkey GEMS Foundation, a not-for-profit education organization and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), have announced the largest school Principals training program involving a private Foundation in UNESCO's history.

The '10,000 Principals Leadership Program' was announced by President Clinton as a 'commitment to action' at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York today.

President Bill Clinton is the honorary Chair of the Varkey GEMS Foundation. It is supported by GEMS Education, the world's largest kindergarten to grade 12 private education provider.

The first phase of the program will involve Kenya, Ghana and India. 10,000 school principals will be trained over four years. School Principals in many developing countries receive little, if any, leadership and development training. This initiative will improve the skills of those school leaders and the multiplier effect will benefit thousands of teachers and up to 10 million children.

The initiative reflects calls from UNESCO and the Varkey GEMS Foundation for the private sector to assist NGOs, IGO's and Governments in supporting the UN Millennium Development Goals, including the need for access to quality education. The private education sector brings unique advantages in education that can complement the work of the non-profit sector.

The Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova said at the launch, "This partnership between UNESCO and the Varkey GEMS Foundation (including GEMS Education) is an excellent example of the new platforms for cooperation the world needs today. Tackling complex, global challenges requires also innovative and far reaching partnerships between the public and private spheres. GEMS Education works for education as a force for development, for individual realization, for tolerance and dialogue and indeed as a basic human right."

The Founder of the Varkey GEMS Foundation and Chairman of GEMS Education, Sunny Varkey said at the launch of the initiative, "I believe the private sector can work with intergovernmental organizations, NGO's and Governments, powerfully, to provide more education to those less fortunate. The fact that 67 million children around the world have no access to education is intolerable. Education is the most important issue in the world today. For us to confront, collectively, some of the world's biggest challenges such as poverty, conflict, prejudice and intolerance we need to lift the standards of education worldwide."

Kenya, Ghana and India are committed to transforming their educational systems and they recognize principals as key players in this process.

The Rt. Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya said, "I welcome this announcement between UNESCO and GEMS Education. Education is at the core of Kenya's ambition to achieve the development objectives outlined in Kenya vision 2030. The training of Principals in Kenya and other countries will have a significant flow on effect within our schools, from Principals to teachers to students. The end result will be improved educational standards across the board."

The Varkey GEMS Foundation is committed to providing leadership development, enhancing teacher effectiveness and professional development courses to improve the skills and knowledge of 10,000 school principals.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, was founded on 16 November 1945. UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO's mission and activities.

About the Varkey GEMS Foundation:
The Varkey GEMS Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, established to improve the standards of education for underprivileged children. The Foundation is the philanthropic arm of GEMS Education, the world's largest K – 12 provider of international education. The Varkey GEMS Foundation provides education scholarships. It also provides leadership development, teacher effectiveness and professional development courses to improve the skills and knowledge of teachers and school leaders. The Foundation also offers strategic input and consultancy to the benefit of its NGO partners and places a special emphasis on campaigning on issues of relevance related to promoting education globally. The Varkey GEMS Foundation is chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and works in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, UNESCO, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Dubai Cares and Pratham India.

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. These CGI members have made nearly 2,000 commitments, which have already improved the lives of 300 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued in excess of $63 billion. The 2011 Annual Meeting will take place Sept. 20-22 in New York City. This year, CGI also convened CGI America, a meeting focused on developing ideas for driving economic growth in the United States. The CGI community also includes CGI U, which hosts an annual meeting for undergraduate and graduate students, and CGI Lead, which engages a select group of young CGI members for leadership development and collective commitment-making. For more information, visit www.clintonglobalinitiative.org.