First social bond to be solely linked to education and used globally for virtual learning and teaching for underserved learners and communities
LONDON: June 1 2020: Pearson, the world’s learning company, today announced it has successfully priced a £350m 3.75% 10-year Education-linked Social Bond with the net proceeds to be used exclusively on sustainability-focused initiatives which support the provision of online learning services, as well as further education and vocational qualifications. The primary recipients will be underserved learners and communities, including those from low-income backgrounds, with disabilities and the unemployed.
The initiatives include:
- Connections Academy, Pearson's strong-growing full-time virtual schools network, serving more than 76,000 students across the US, many of whom are unable to get to school or who struggle in a traditional classroom environment
- BTEC which provides vocational qualifications and technical training and is growing strongly internationally, and
- GED which provides the opportunity for US students who did not complete high school to earn a high school equivalency certificate to make further progress in their lives
Sally Johnson, Pearson's Chief Financial Officer, said: “Pearson’s purpose is to help people make progress in their lives through learning. Through launching this bond, with a clear social element, we emphasise our commitment to ensuring learners around the world can gain access to high quality education, underpinning Pearson's support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This is an important milestone for Pearson as we further strengthen our long-term liquidity and continue to build a more sustainable business that is focused on digital, lifelong learning.”
The chosen initiatives meet the Eligible Categories set out in Pearson’s newly established Social Bond Framework, which is in alignment with the ICMA Social Bond Principles, which promote integrity in the social bond market through guidelines that recommend transparency, disclosure and reporting. The framework sets out how the social bond will meet the criteria focused on Pearson’s purpose to help people make progress in their lives through learning, as well as contributing to two main social objectives, access to education and socioeconomic development.
The proceeds will be allocated towards the costs of curriculum development, teaching and technology with around 80% of the spend expected to be allocated to Connections Academy. Pearson will hold itself to account publicly for the learning outcomes it helps enable through the use of these proceeds and commissions and publishes audited efficacy reports to evaluate the impact of these initiatives on educational outcomes.
Pearson has also obtained a second-party opinion from Vigeo Eiris, a world leader in sustainable bond issuances, who have given Pearson their highest level of assurance that the intended use of proceeds is aligned with the ICMA Social Bond Principles and is likely to have a positive impact towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals 4, 8 and 10.
To learn more about Pearson’s Social Bond Framework visit: https://www.pearson.com/investors/social-bond-framework.html
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We are the world’s learning company with more than 22,500 employees operating in 70 countries. We provide content, assessment and digital services to learners, educational institutions, employers, governments and other partners globally. We are committed to helping equip learners with the skills they need to enhance their employability prospects and to succeed in the changing world of work. We believe that wherever learning flourishes so do people. Visit www.Pearson.com for more.