Big businesses should spend more money on supporting education, according to a new report.
The Varkey Foundation has published an analysis of 500 major firms, revealing that just 13 per cent of their philanthropic and social investment budgets go towards education.
Some 218 firms did not invest any of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) budget in education, which ranks considerably lower on the list of priorities than other areas such as health.
Lack of education is a serious global problem, with 58 million primary school-age children out of school and a further 63 million adolescents not attending secondary school, according to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
The Varkey Foundation is urging businesses to commit 20 per cent of their global CSR spend to education by 2020.
Doing so would mean more than three million additional children per year worldwide would be able to study in primary school, if the funding was targeted properly.
Banco Santander ranks first on the list, committing 79 per cent of CSR to education, with IBM taking second place (72 per cent) and Spain's Telefonica in third (65 per cent).
Some 26 UK companies made the list, contributing about $331 million (£218 million) of their CSR budgets to education projects.
The UK's top-ranking firm was GlaxoSmithKline, investing 54 per cent of its CSR budget in education, taking it to sixth on the list. UK-Australian multinational Rio Tinto Group came eighth, with 27 per cent.
Vikas Pota, chief executive officer of the Varkey Foundation, called on the world's biggest firms to take a fresh look at their philanthropic spending.
"I would urge them to re-examine how much they currently commit to improving the education of children around the world," he added.
"How much is helping children learn the skills to raise themselves out of poverty and dream of better lives? How much is equipping children with the knowledge to compete in tomorrow's world?"
Posted by Theo Foulds