New York, USA. The United Nations marked the second International Day of Education on January 24 with a call to increase political commitment to education as a force to attain all the Sustainable Development Goals.
The event was celebrated globally including two key celebrations at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and at the UN headquarters in New York. The Claretians schools and colleges in various places have also celebrated this day with many events and activities organized at different levels. We have received reports from Nigeria and India on the special programs they had to remember this day. Fr. Rohan Dominic participated in the special event that took place at the UN, New York.
The UN General Assembly in December 2018 adopted a resolution proclaiming January 24 the International Day of Education. The first-ever International Day of Education was celebrated on January 24, 2019. This year’s celebration event at UN Headquarters was organized by the Office of the President of the General Assembly in close collaboration with UNESCO. The President of the General Assembly convened a High-level Interactive Dialogue on the theme “Aligning Inclusive Quality Education Policies with Sustainable Development Goals”.
The right to education is enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration calls for free and compulsory elementary education. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, goes further to stipulate that countries shall make higher education accessible to all. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 calls to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Mr. Tiijani Muhammad-Bande, the President of the General Assembly pointed out that there was a “precipitate decline” in the quality and standards of education; a widening knowledge gap between students in technically advanced societies and those in developing countries; a crisis of learning in conflict zones; growing school bullying, and the declining esteem of the teaching profession. He also stressed, “When a society remains perpetually under-developed, it must among other things re-evaluate its education system”. Mr. Muhammad-Bande said, “If the system is dysfunctional or does not facilitate the acquisition of pertinent knowledge and skills, the economy will, at best, stagnate, and at worst, collapse”. He also highlighted the importance of bridging the current gender, digital and financing gaps in education.
Ms. Amina Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General mentioned in her speech, “Without education, we cannot achieve any of the SDGs”. She added, “Education has the power to shape the world”. “We have the power to shape education, but only if we work together and really bring the partnerships that are necessary to provide quality education”, she concluded. “We have a duty to step up our efforts so that quality education for all is no longer a goal for tomorrow, but a reality”.
In her address, she mentioned that 258 million children under the age of 17 who are not going to school — and only 49 percent completing secondary education. In addition, about 770 million adults are illiterate, most of them women.
UNESCO has been charged with coordinating the international community’s efforts to achieve SDG 4, quality education for all.
The speakers have pointed out that there is a big crisis in education today. The situation is alarming. This can be viewed in two ways. The major problem around the world is the number of children who are out of school, which is 278 million, according to UNESCO. And some four million refugee children are also out of school. Another major problem in education is the number of children who are in school but not learning well or not learning at all. This number is very big. There are around 617 million who are in education but cannot read and do basic math. There are more than 400 million children leave school for good at age 11 or 12 and 800 million children are leaving the education system without any qualifications. So, the crisis is both quantitative and qualitative. There is a number of reasons for this qualitative crisis. This includes Inadequate learning methods, lack of trained teachers and an absence of appropriate infrastructures in school and shortage of funding. External factors such as conflicts, global disruptions and natural disasters due to climate change are also affecting the quantity and quality education.
The speakers and the representatives of the member states, the UN system, civil society, and academics shared their views and expressed ways to face the crisis to improve the quantity and quality in education and how everyone can contribute towards the achievement of Goal 4. All of them stressed that education is the best investment we can make for our future.
The President of the UN General Assembly has also launched the Beyond the Basics Global Network on Inclusive Quality Education and Lifelong Learning on this occasion.
UNESCO maintains a website to monitor the progress in education. https://www.education-progress.org/en/ This site summarizes the key facts and trends in education around the world through five themes: Access, Equity, Learning, Quality, and Finance.
– article by Rohan Dominic T. L., CMF