The International Day of Education celebrates education’s role in development and peace and takes place annually on January 24.
Barriers to education
A lack of access to education continues the cycle of lack of opportunity, poverty and gender inequality. According to the UN, 258 million children do not go to school and 617 million children and teenagers are illiterate and cannot do basic math. Four million refugees who are children or youth are not attending school and in sub-Saharan Africa, less than 40 per cent of girls finish lower secondary school.
Although literacy rates have been increasing since the 1970s, there are still enormous challenges that must be overcome so there can be progress in other important areas. The challenges are many and include a lack of teachers, learning materials, sanitation, infrastructure, hunger, poverty, illness and marginalization. Children who are especially at risk for not receiving quality education are children with disabilities, girls, children from ethnic minorities and children of refugees.
Education is a right
Article 26 of the United Nations’(UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that everyone has the right to education, that basic education should be free, and that it should be compulsory. It stipulates that education should promote personality development and understanding and that parents have the right to decide on the kind of education their children will receive. The 1986 Convention on the Rights of Child goes a step further and says that higher education should be accessible by everyone.
Sustainable Development Goal 4
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted in 2015 and the priorities are eradicating poverty and hunger, climate action, inclusion, and quality education. It was internationally recognized that education is necessary for its 17 goals to succeed. Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030.
The power of quality education
Education means people can get decent jobs and break the cycle of poverty. It improves self-esteem, encourages innovation as well as entrepreneurial and technical skills. It improves communication skills, critical thinking, decision making and creativity. Digital literacy is essential in today’s society and quality education means access to and an understanding of information and communications technology.
The International Day of Education on January 24, 2021
The 2021 International Day of Education will take place on January 24 and will occur during a time of unprecedented learning disruption for students around the world. The theme is “Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation.” Closures of schools, post-secondary institutions, and literacy and lifelong learning programs have taken place in more than 190 countries and affected 1.6 billion students. International cooperation is key for recovering from this setback, advancing education, and creating safe, sustainable, and inclusive societies.