First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting me today to share with you an initiative that can help to create a more inclusive society, ProFuturo.
A few months ago I took the decision to step out as Chairman and CEO of Telefonica, one of the leading telco companies in the world, after 16 years in that role. I wanted to dedicate my time to contribute to building a better and fairer society.
During my tenure at Telefónica I saw the impact that education has on people’s lives. We started in Latin America but now it is the time to be more ambitious.
I am a strong believer that education is the key for progress in society and individual’s welfare. It is the most powerful instrument to reduce inequality and build the foundations for sustainable growth across the world, and it is even more critical in developing areas.
Over 50 million children in the world do not have access to any kind of education. We cannot leave them behind. They all deserve education.
Education in the 21st century means a very different thing that what it meant just 10 years ago. The Digital Revolution that we are living is going to be more important than the industrial revolution. Never before a generation has experienced the level of change we are witnessing. It is not an era of change; it is a change of era.
A new time where technology can drive an exponential growth in the development of our societies, creating a huge amount of social welfare. Some people believe that the technology disruption will lead us to a world that is less fair. That it will drive an aggressive globalization resulting in more inequality.
We know that it is going to be the opposite. That technology enables growth and spreads its benefits more broadly. It has the potential to reduce inequality among individuals and to improve the living conditions for all human beings.
Through digital technology, we can ensure access to quality education to anybody in any part of the world. Today, it is possible to offer to a child in a disadvantaged community in Africa the same educational experience that to a child in Berlin.
The aim of ProFuturo is to leverage technology to close the educational gap.
This is not just a statement. We do not start from scratch. We have been working for several years now and by the end of 2015 we have already brought education to over 2 million girls and boys in developing areas in Latin America and Africa.
Children at risk whose lives have been transformed. Many of them are now in college, and most of them have now a high quality job. This proves that education has the power to transform people’s lives and that we can make a difference.
We plan to continue increasing our geographical reach with special attention to those who have been displaced by force, the refugees. Our ambition is to bring education to at least 10 million girls and boys at risk, in just 5 years.
While the number is important, what is critical for us is what we call “quality”. Our goal is to go together with these children during their whole educational experience, ensuring that they truly benefit from the new opportunities available to them.
To ensure the quality of the educational experience, we have several tools that we are already using on the ground:
- Proven digital solutions.
- A methodology to ensure sustainable impact, including among others teachers’ training and NGO certification.
- Learning contents covering critical competences.
We can also provide financing support to start the initiative and the mechanisms to ensure fund raising going forward.
We are aware that this challenge cannot be solved by one individual or organization. We are already in contact with some private and public institutions. But we need the support of more partners around the world.
This is why we are presenting this initiative to you. A program that is open to anybody that wants to join, regardless of religious convictions.
ProFuturo is our passion. We are convinced that we have in front of us a unique opportunity to use technology to accelerate the development and social wellbeing through digital education.
I hope that during the past few minutes we have managed to pass on some of this passion to all of you.
It will be our pleasure to share with you additional details during these days.
Thank you for your time.