Pearson makes new investments to improve learning outcomes in developing world

  • Pearson Affordable Learning Fund to invest additional $50 million to support education entrepreneurs across Africa, Asia and Latin America
  • New five-year campaign calls for renewed action on literacy

Pearson, the world's leading learning company, today announces two new initiatives to increase its support for better educational outcomes in the developing world.

Pearson announces new plans to invest $50 million (£33 million) in ventures that provide education to low-income learners in emerging markets, through the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund.

The Fund launched in 2012 with $15 million of capital. It sets improvements in learning outcomes and market-based returns as conditions of continued investment. The Fund has already invested in innovative education start-ups in South Africa, Ghana, India, and the Philippines. Half of the fund is currently invested in companies with female CEOs.

Through the new $50 million investment, Pearson expects to reach millions of additional students and young people by 2020. In addition - by providing financial backing, good governance, and operational support to education entrepreneurs - the Fund aims to foster and scale innovation throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

In a further commitment to education in the developing world, Pearson is launching Project Literacy, a new social impact campaign to improve global literacy rates over the next five years. Levels of illiteracy have not improved since 2000; today nearly 800m people around the world cannot read and write.

Project Literacy will combine Pearson's expertise in education with financial support from the company with the aim of accelerating improvements in literacy throughout the developing world. Pearson expects to announce its first Project Literacy partnerships in the first half of 2015.

Pearson chief executive John Fallon said:

"Every parent wants the best possible education for their children. Yet, around the world, one in ten children don't attend primary school because high-quality schools just aren't available. The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund has already shown it is possible to address this challenge by making low-cost, high-quality schools and services accessible to parents in the developing world. We are tripling our investment in the Fund because we know that this approach works, and makes a transformative difference to lives across the world.

"Through our new investments and the Project Literacy campaign, our goal is to support entrepreneurs and campaigners who want to transform education for millions of students across the world."

Katelyn Donnelly, managing director of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, said:

"The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund supports the brightest entrepreneurs aiming to transform education in the developing world. Our much-needed capital helps improve standards and push for scale to benefit those learners who are most in need of a world-class education.

"We believe that start-up culture can inject innovation and determination into some of the world's toughest educational systems."

Pearson's chief executive John Fallon and chief education adviser Sir Michael Barber will set out these plans in more detail during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which runs from January 21-24.

Pearson will also bring together business, political and civil society leaders at Davos to discuss the scope for new action and collaboration on global literacy through a new campaign Project Literacy.

Notes to Editors

About the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund

The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund makes capital investments in for-profit companies to meet a burgeoning demand for high quality affordable education services in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The fund was launched in July 2012 with $15 million of initial Pearson capital. The fund invests in private companies committed to innovative approaches and improving learning outcomes for the poorest families in the world. For more information, please visit www.affordable-learning.com.

Current investments in Ghana, South Africa, India and the Philippines are summarised at http://www.affordable-learning.com/the-fund/investments.html#sthash.Kogw8lzM.Eu0I5mZY.dpbs

About Project Literacy

Project Literacy is a major new campaign convened by Pearson, dedicated to building partnerships and new action that can put reading within everyone's reach, unlocking the potential of people, communities, society and whole economies.

By collaborating on literacy, organisations around the world can accelerate progress on this issue and achieve lasting impact on poverty.

To read more about the campaign and our activity at Davos, visit www.projectliteracy.com.

For more information

For more information or to request interviews, please contact:

Brendan O’Grady
+44 7889 409806
brendan.ogrady@pearson.com