Partnering to Advance Education Reform

Posted by Dan Bross 
Sr. Director, Global Corporate Citizenship

Earlier this week I traveled to San Francisco to take part in the annual conference of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.  Tony Wagner from Harvard University facilitated the closing plenary, which focused on the role of business collaboration in transforming education.  Tony recently wrote The Global Achievement Gap, which examines the U.S. education system, considers why American students are falling behind their international peers and proposes ways to reverse the trend.


As part of the plenary, Tony highlighted a partnership between Cisco, Intel and Microsoft that will recommend new assessment approaches, methods and technologies for measuring success in equipping today’s students with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. 

CiscoIntel and Microsoft each have a longstanding commitment to education and each could have undertaken this project alone.  Instead, we chose to collaborate.   Why?  From Microsoft’s perspective, experience has taught us that diverse  thinking among talented partners produces thought-provoking, challenging dialogue that leads to truly innovative solutions with far reaching impact.  Partnering is also good for our customers, particularly governments, as they seek greater efficiency, efficacy and simplicity in their relationships with the private sector.  Cisco, Intel and Microsoft also have a successful track record of collaborating with governmental and non-governmental organizations to support education reform – for example, in developing the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers.

My colleague, Linda Zecher, previously blogged that the big social and economic challenges facing  today’s society – limited education, inadequate healthcare, unemployment – are too great for any single government, charitable organization or business to solve.  I hope we continue to see new and innovative partnerships  that will take on these issues. Partnerships take work, but the results routinely make the investment worthwhile.

We’d like to hear from you.  Have you participated in a private-public partnership that was worth the extra effort?  Or have you suffered through a difficult partnership that provided lessons on how to do things differently in the future?

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