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  • Lessons Learned From Getting Students Ready for Work

    by LearnEd

    Kids in class


    Formal Educaation

    Preparing Students for the Workplace

    Globally, 200 million people are unemployed, of which more than 70 million are under 25 years old. Still, employers say they struggle to fill job vacancies with skilled workers.

    These claims come from the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund's 2015 annual letter.

    global unempoyed

    The organization, also known as PALF, partners with education entrepreneurs who are working to understand the best ways to both educate today's young people and fill tomorrow's jobs.

    "We've gained valuable perspective on preparing students for the workplace," the report says.

    Here are three insights presented in that annual letter:


    "Unemployment continues to be a major issue across the world as employers struggle to fill jobs with sufficiently skilled labor, and this problem is even more urgent in emerging markets in Asia and Africa where the labor force is growing exponentially."


    "Across emerging markets, the current educational infrastructure struggles to find ways to engage young people on a path to productive employment."

    "Vocational education is often looked to as the answer .... Although spending in the vocational space is significant and growing, the current state of this kind of education is often antiquated and not well suited to the 21st century economy."

    "Many students leave jobs within the first few months after finding themselves unprepared, or are pushed out by employers who will take a chance on a fresh batch of replacements."


    "We've often thought of secondary, higher, and vocational education as distinct fields with unique purposes, but it's now time for a little more flexibility and cross-pollination between them."

    "The core critical thinking, leadership, and language skills fundamental to the job market are largely missing from much of today's K-12 and tertiary system in most developing countries. We believe secondary and tertiary providers will increasingly look for partnerships with businesses and development agencies that more directly prepare their students for the 21st century workforce."

    turn tide
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  • A College Readiness Pathway From India to MIT

    by LearnEd

    Older students in focus


    We spent some time with Ayush between classes at MIT. See a video of his conversation with Pearson CEO John Fallon here: "A Video About How One Student's Story Can Inspire the Future of Learning Innovation."

     A Gateway—and Pathway—To Learning

    Meet Ayush Sharma, an undergrad at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Ayush grew up in northern India, in the city of Kanpur.

    "I never imagined I would get to study at MIT," he writes. "I had always wanted to go to a prestigious university, but I just didn't see how it would ever be possible for me to get one."


    Affordable Learning

    A local learning company called Avanti helped Ayush prepare for his college entrance tests. It's the kind of affordable learning solution supported by the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, or PALF.

    "The private sector has a vital role to play in making it possible for every child to have access to higher quality education," writes Katelyn Donnelly, who is PALF's Managing Director.

    What Katelyn and her colleagues are learning by investing in education programs that are affordable, innovative, and effective improves learning anywhere ... where anyone, like Ayush, can say: "I am so proud to say that I am now an engineering student at one of the best universities in the world."

    Ayush's Story In His Own Words

    (This essay is taken from the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund annual letter for 2015.)

    My mother recently retired after two decades as a para-military constable, and my father is a mechanic in our hometown of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh; neither of my parents went to university, so it would have been understandable if they had pushed me down a more conventional path of college prep with one of the established local courses. I’m so grateful that they supported me in choosing Avanti instead.

    Kanpur Headliner

    At Avanti, being able to study with my peers was a much more attractive option than learning by rote. It was the learning outside the classroom, however, that really opened up possibilities for me. It started with the foreign applications program manager.

    Through him, we heard about the various summer programs across top US universities—I got both encouragement and advice on putting myself forward for the Yale Young Global Scholars program. I was selected for Yale’s program and I think that was when I really began to understand what I would need to do to apply to US colleges for my undergraduate studies.

    so proud

    It was a fantastic experience, and I returned to India believing that MIT really could be within reach. It was not easy, especially improving my English and navigating the complex US application process, but Avanti had a personal mentor throughout our college applications, that supported me.

    The first semester at MIT has been a whirlwind of projects, problem sets, and amazing new people. I hope that this is just the start for me, but for now, I am so proud to say that I am now an engineering student at one of the best universities in the world.


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  • Why Affordable Global Learning Helps American Education

    by LearnEd

    Kids walking to school

    The Demand for High-Quality Education

    "From Pakistan to Ghana to the Philippines," writes Katelyn Donnelly about her travels around the world to research learning, "parents, students, and heads of state saw education and skill development as a critical gateway to a more prosperous life and a stronger economy."

    "Large swaths of parents and students in the developing world," Katelyn writes, "have a tremendous demand for high-quality education and would choose to invest their scarce dollars in learning opportunities to provide for a better future for their families."

    Katelyn is Managing Director of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, or PALF. The fund invests in for-profit companies around the world to meet the demand for affordable education in developing communities.

    Fueling Innovation in Learning Across the World

    The priority of education for parents and students in Lahore or Nairobi or Johannesburg, of course, is generally the same priority of education for parents and students in Las Vegas, Nashville, or Jacksonville.

    It follows, then, that learning and innovation generated by PALF-supported projects in the developing world can build and strengthen ANY educational system.

    "Within these micro-communities and micro-geographies," Katelyn writes, "people will eventually be able to learn from other larger communities and together we’ll create a more global ecosystem of entrepreneurs and innovators that are learning from each other.”

    The Need for Learning

    Just prior to the launch of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, Katelyn settled on a path to improve affordable learning during a research trip to Pakistan.

    It was during that trip, she writes, when she "confronted the abysmal state of education that millions of children and parents face around the world":

    Kate's Visit

    Better Learning Outcomes

    After this trip, Katelyn was able to convince Pearson to get involved.

    She and others, she writes: "conceptualized a way for the world's largest education company to play a leading role in fueling innovation across the developing world—and therefore better learning outcomes."

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John Fallon

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