ISLAMABAD: Ilm Ideas 2 – a programme funded by the UK Department for International Development – on Thursday organised a first of its kind in the country CSR Education Innovation Forum to introduce the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) community to a range of exciting education innovations making a difference now for children and young generation. The forum introduced attendees to the state of education in Pakistan, the scope of the challenge, and the potential for education innovation to reach children most in need, as more than 20 million children in Pakistan between the ages of 5 and 16 are out of school, Mohammad Ali Ibrahim, Head Corporate Responsibility – Jazz, spoke about Jazz’s CSR initiatives, including a project with one of the companies supported by Ilm 2. Syed Mazhar Hussain, CHRO PTCL, presented PTCL’s CSR strategy with an emphasis on its education portfolio. The organisations and businesses supported by Ilm 2 are addressing Pakistan’s education challenges in innovative and sustainable ways, to reach children from poor and marginalised households. They are implementing a variety of exciting solutions, including creative and localised educational content, digital classrooms, access to learning for out-of-school children, and early childhood education. They presented their solutions, showcased their work and products in stalls, and invited business and CSR professionals to support them in scaling to reach more children.“The involvement of major corporations is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Zulfiqar Qazilbash, and a business development consultant with Ilm 2. Globally, consumers are choosing to engage with socially responsible businesses and corporations, and this forum was a unique opportunity for companies in Pakistan to learn about and contribute to education initiatives, which are traditionally under funded when it comes to CSR spending. “Access to quality education is the key to enhance productivity and foster economic growth in the country. This event provides an excellent platform to learn about technological advancements and how various stakeholders can collaborate and bring about a sustained growth in the education sector,” said Mohammad Ali Ibrahim.“Owing to the educational scarcity in Pakistan, education needs to be a top agenda in the CSR Plan of every company. PTCL continues to take initiatives to close the gap between educational institutions and the industry. This is a great event for CSR heads to learn about innovations that have the potential to significantly improve the quality of education in Pakistan,” said Syed Mazhar Hussain, CHRO PTCL. The organisations supported by Ilm 2 included AzCorp Entertainment, Children’s Global Network Pakistan, Edkasa, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi, Knowledge Platform, RADEC Technologies, SABAQ, and TeleTaleem. Startups included Architect’s Cab, BoloTech, ELN – The E-Learning Network, NearPeer, Orbit, RobotWala, and WonderTree.The CSR Education Innovation Forum was facilitated in part by the Arfa Karim Foundation. The Ilm 2 is a programme funded by UK aid from the Department for International Development, and aims to engage a wide range of players, primarily from the private sector, to develop innovative approaches to improving the supply and demand for quality of education in Pakistan. Ilm 2 supports education innovations that positively impact the poorest children and young people. Education is central to sustainable development and economic growth. Yet more than 20 million children in Pakistan between the ages of 5 and 16 are out of school. Even for those who are in school, learning is not guaranteed. Many children receive an education of such poor quality that they leave school without the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. The innovations being presented at the forum address both these challenges and are already helping to improve learning and increase access to education.Published in Daily Times, December 5th 2017.