By Lindsey Turnbull
Recognising that literacy provides the foundation for a strong education and life long learning, KPMG recently launched its Family for Literacy citizenship programme in the Cayman Islands at Red Bay Primary School, with Lord Dr (Michael) Hastings of Scarisbrick, CBE, who is KPMG’s Global Head of Citizenship for KPMG International, in attendance.
The firm’s global literacy initiative is to eradicate childhood illiteracy not only by donating new books to children in need but also by playing an active role in each child’s development and encouraging and supporting literacy all the way through the teenage years and beyond. KPMG has had a strong history of supporting and encouraging literacy in Cayman, having partnered with Cayman’s LIFE (Literacy is For Everyone) programme since it began in 2012 and volunteering to read with children in schools on a one-to-one basis under LIFE’s paired reading programme. There are currently just under 50 volunteers from KPMG who volunteer their time once a week to work with students throughout the school year.
Lord Michael Hastings, the former head of Public Affairs at the BBC, has been KPMG’s Global Head of Citizenship since 2006 and has represented the firm on the Global Corporate Citizenship Committee of the World Economic Forum from 2008 to 2010 and has taken on many significant roles within the WEF.
At the launch of the Cayman arm of KPMG’s latest Family for Literacy citizenship programme at Red Bay Primary School, Lord Hastings demonstrated the importance of reading when he said that Warren Buffet spent 80 per cent of his day reading which Lord Hastings felt was fascinating because Buffett is known for being one of the world’s most successful investors, not necessarily naturally aligned with reading. He said Bill Gates also said he spent a large part of his day reading.
“This whole area around reading has clearly got very important economic social and business development let alone educational value,” Lord Hastings advised.
Lord Hastings said KPMG started the Family for Literacy programme in 2008 in California when it was discovered that criminality was closely linked with illiteracy. This was an important motivation for the programme. He said that literacy created confident and competent people, underscored by one of the World Economic Forum’s top ten most required skills for 2022, being competence in knowledge management.
“Where do you get that?” he asked. “You get that here [referring to primary school], at age four, five, six or seven… So, what you are really doing is making a 50-year investment,” he confirmed, referring to the educators assembled at the launch of the KPMG Family for Literacy programme.
KPMG’s Family for Literacy programme is now in 14 countries around the world and has donated 4.5 million books to students.
“We see it as part of our whole arc of our lifelong learning journey,” Lord Hastings stated. “We work with Junior Achievement and that is developing maths skills and economic competency and entrepreneurship through ages 11 to 18 and that’s another part of the journey.”
To complete the learning “arc”, Lord Hastings said KPMG also worked with a global organisation called Enactus which helped students at university develop business ideas and assisted them in putting those ideas into practice.
Lord Hastings, himself a former teacher, said that he hoped the relationship between KPMG and the Ministry of Education and schools in Cayman could strengthen even further so they could do so much more in the future.
|Lord Hastings with KPMG, LIFE and Ministry officials: (L-R) Anthony Cowell, Partner, KPMG; Lyneth Monteith, Acting Deputy Chief Officer, Ministry of Education; Delton Pedley, Deputy Principal, Red Bay Primary School; Lord Michael Hastings, Global Head of Citizenship, KPMG International; Vicki Frederick, Principal, Red Bay Primary School; Tammy Hopkins, Acting Director DES; Marilyn Conolly, Executive Director, LIFE (Literacy Is For Everyone)|