⏰ 3 minutes
“The time has come to reignite our collective commitment to education.”
Changing Course, Transforming Education
As it was detailed in UNESCO’s global Futures of Education report, transforming the future requires an urgent rebalancing of our relationships with each other, with nature, as well as with technology that permeates our lives, bearing breakthrough opportunities while raising serious concerns for equity, inclusion and democratic participation.
This year’s International Day of Education will be a platform to showcase the most important transformations that have to be nurtured to realize everyone’s fundamental right to education and build a more sustainable, inclusive, and peaceful future. It will generate debate around how to strengthen education as a public endeavor and common good, how to steer the digital transformation, support teachers, safeguard the planet and unlock the potential in every person to contribute to collective well-being and our shared home. Please read UNESCO’s concept note for the 2022 celebration for more information.
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 258 million children and adolescents around the world do not have the opportunity to enter or complete 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.
Let’s reflect on education as we look to 2050: What should we continue doing? What should we abandon? What needs to be creatively invented afresh? UNESCO is proposing answers to these three essential questions in its new global report on the Futures of Education entitled Reimagining our futures together: A new social contract for education. The foundational principles of this new social contract are: assuring the right to quality education throughout life and strengthening education as a public common good.
This generation of students now risks losing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings, or about 14 percent of today’s global GDP, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic-related school closures, according to a new report by the World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF. In addition, The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery report shows that in low- and middle-income countries, the share of children living in Learning Poverty – already 53 percent before the pandemic – could potentially reach 70 percent given the long school closures and the ineffectiveness of remote learning.