Deloitte and the World Economic Forum have announced the launch of The WorldClass Education Challenge, a joint initiative inviting educators, entrepreneurs, and innovators to work alongside Deloitte professionals to advance solutions that will support access to a quality education for more of the world’s students.

In collaboration with the Forum, Deloitte is seeking submissions via UpLink to discover, invest, and scale novel educational approaches that have proven successful at advancing learning during the pandemic. The world is at a critical junction to prepare the more than 1-billion school-aged children for the jobs of the future, which will require a lifelong commitment to learning.

The Innovation Challenge builds upon the existing efforts of Deloitte’s WorldClass initiative to support 100-million individuals by 2030 in accessing the quality education, skills, and opportunities required for the future of work.

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted students’ education worldwide while also illustrating the possibilities for what learning in the future could look like. Unless urgent action is taken now, this moment could prove to be a year of lost learning, exacerbating education inequity.

Deloitte and the Forum have been inspired to launch this Innovation Challenge to improve the educational outlook for more of the world’s students. Solutions in Africa and Asia, where the majority of the world’s children and youth will live and learn over the next decade, are the primary focus.

The Cohort selected will receive up to $1-million in professional services on a pro bono basis, financial grants, a dedicated relationship manager to support the organisations’ collaboration with Deloitte, and participation in selected Forum and Deloitte events, projects, and communities.

“I deeply appreciate the impact that education has had in the transformation of my life. For Africa to play it’s part in the transformation of the global economy, access to quality education across the continent is fundamental,” says Bongisipho Nyembe, managing partner for responsible business and public policy at Deloitte Africa. “As we embrace the impact of the 4IR we have to invest in future-fit education systems.

“We are confident that innovative yet practical solutions will emerge with the Uplink challenge. We cannot miss this opportunity to transform lives and enable access to quality and equitable education even in the most remote areas across Africa.”

Submissions will be accepted via the Forum’s UpLink WorldClass Education Challenge page until 20 June 2021. Proposals must demonstrate the ability to reach scale, and address one, or more, of the following areas:

* Equitable access to education: We are looking for models that provide equitable access for students who are being left behind. Learning cannot be limited only to those with access to an in-person classroom and teacher. Girls around the world, children in rural communities, and other marginalised groups have been disproportionately affected by unequal access to education.

* Investing in teachers: We are looking for models that invest in the teaching profession and teachers’ future-ready skills so they, in turn, can better prepare students for the new economy. We must invest in, provide development opportunities for, and continually upskill teachers while also attracting top talent to the profession.

* Skills for the future: We are looking for models that invest in the skills students will need in 2030 and beyond. One billion global youth will enter the workforce over the next decade into jobs that do not exist today. Educators have the daunting task of bridging the gap between what is taught in the classroom today and the jobs of the future.

“We are thrilled to be launching the WorldClass Education Challenge on UpLink; this is our first Innovation Challenge to address SDG 4: Quality Education,” says John Dutton, head of UpLink at the World Economic Forum. “It is a real opportunity for us to surface the creativity and ingenuity which we know exists within local ventures, and to connect these to influential networks with the resources and the drive to scale them.”