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Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.
Education is a human right
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.
Education is key to sustainable development
When it adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, the international community recognized that education is essential for the success of all 17 of its goals. Sustainable Development Goal 4, in particular, aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030.
Challenges to achieving universal education
Education offers children a ladder out of poverty and a path to a promising future. But about 244 million children and adolescents around the world are out of school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school. Their right to education is being violated and it is unacceptable.
Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.
Learning for lasting peace
Learning for peace must be a transformative process, enabling learners to gain essential knowledge, values, attitudes, skills, and behaviors, thereby empowering them to serve as catalysts for peace in their communities. The foundation of more peaceful, just, and sustainable societies is laid through education, a force that permeates every facet of our daily lives and overall prospects. In the face of escalating climate change, democratic erosion, persistent inequalities, growing discrimination, hate speech, violence, and conflict on a global scale, education emerges as a powerful tool to both address and prevent these challenges in the future. Moreover, when effectively shaped and implemented, education becomes a long-term investment with increasing returns.
An active commitment to peace is more urgent today than ever: Education is central to this endeavor.
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Read UNESCO’s concept note here: