Following is UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ message for the International Day of Education, observed on 24 January. Right to Education for All needs protection. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.
UN Secretary‑General António Guterres
When education is interrupted, it affects everyone — especially students, teachers and families. Today, on the third International Day of Education, I pay tribute to their resilience in the face of a pandemic that, at its peak, forced almost every school, institute and university to close its doors.
Although this disruption has led to learning innovations, it has also dashed hopes of a brighter future among vulnerable populations. All of us pay the price. After all, education is the foundation for expanding opportunities, transforming economies, fighting intolerance, protecting our planet and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
All of us pay the price!
As the world continues to battle the pandemic, education — as a fundamental right and a global public good — must be protected to avert a generational catastrophe. Even before the pandemic, some 258 million children and adolescents were out of school, the majority of them girls. More than half of 10-year-olds in low- and middle-income countries were not learning to read a simple text.
In 2021, we must seize all opportunities to turn this situation around. We must ensure the full replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education fund and strengthen global education cooperation. We must also step up our efforts to reimagine education — training teachers, bridging the digital divide and rethinking curricula to equip learners with the skills and knowledge to flourish in our rapidly changing world.
Let us commit to promote education for all, today and every day.
International Day of Education
On 3 December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted with consensus a resolution proclaiming 24 January as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development. The adoption of the resolution 73/25 “International Day of Education”, co-authored by Nigeria and 58 other Member States, demonstrated the unwavering political will to support transformative actions for inclusive, equitable and quality education for all.
By doing so, the international community reiterated that education plays a key role in building sustainable and resilient societies. It also contributes to the achievement of all other Sustainable Development Goals. With a view to enhance international cooperation in supporting the efforts towards the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 4, the resolution called on all stakeholders including Member States, organizations of the UN system, and civil society, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, the private sector, individuals and other relevant stakeholders to observe the International Day of Education.
Education transforms lives
Education transforms lives and is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development. UNESCO believes that education is a human right for all throughout life and that access must be matched by quality. The Organization is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to cover all aspects of education.
UNESCO is the specialized United Nations agency for education. UNESCO facilitates the annual observance of the Day in close collaboration with main education actors. The International Education Day occurs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus has led to a global learning disruption of unprecedented scale and severity.
The closure of schools, universities and other learning institutions, as well as the interruption of many literacy and lifelong learning programmes, has affected the lives of 1.6 billion students in over 190 countries. As a new year begins, now is the time to step up collaboration and international solidarity. This will place education and lifelong learning at the centre of the recovery . Education supports the transformation towards more inclusive, safe and sustainable societies.
Equal access to quality education is one of the EU’s central goals
The Commission’s ambition is to enable all EU citizens to receive the best education and training. The Commission is developing initiatives to help establish a European Education Area enabling all young people to benefit from the best education and training, and to find employment across Europe.
It is in the shared interest of all EU Member States to harness the full potential of education and culture as drivers for job creation, economic growth and improved social cohesion, as well as a means to experience European identity in all its diversity.
The Commission is developing initiatives to help work towards a European Education Area. The vision contained within this policy is that, across the EU:
spending time abroad to study and learn should become the norm
school and higher education qualifications should be recognised across the EU
knowing two languages in addition to one’s mother tongue should be standard
everyone should be able to access high-quality education, irrespective of their socio-economic background
people should have a strong sense of their identity as a European, of Europe’s cultural heritage and its diversity
How is the EU working to deliver a European Education Area?
The Commission has presented a first package of measures addressing:
The right to education is 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 was adopted in 1989. Now it 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 265 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.
Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility.
The third International Day of Education (January 24) is on Monday 25 January 2021. International Day has the theme ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation’. Now is the time to power education by stepping up collaboration and international solidarity to place education and lifelong learning at the centre of the recovery.
The global event for the Day has three main segments: learning heroes, innovations, and financing. It takes place in partnership with the UNESCO New York Office, UNHQ, the Global Partnership for Education and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies (CRI). International Day features the participation of partners from the Global Education Coalition. Capturing the spirit of the International Day of Education, CRI and UNESCO have spearheaded a Learning Planet Festival. It will celebrate learning in all contexts and share innovations that fulfill the potential of every learner, no matter what their circumstances. The CRI will also be unveiling the winners of an essay contest of “Le Petit Prince”.