International Day of Education 2020: Learning for people, planet, prosperity, and peace

International Day of Education 2020: Learning for people, planet, prosperity, and peace

Today, on 24 January 2020, the world celebrates the International Day of Education [1]. A day proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to honour education and its centrality to human well-being and sustainable development. Education is a human right and a fundamental need for individuals to be able to reach their potentials. It is embedded at the heart of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); Article 26, and further strengthened in following human rights treaties. Education is the building block of productive and prosperous societies. It is also the way through which respect, equality and dignity can be promoted in order to create and sustain peaceful societies where indivuduals are free from oppression and discrimination.

“4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development [3], SDG4 Target 7

The fourth goal of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development [3], “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all“, is rights-based and seeks to ensure the full enjoyment of the right to education as fundamental to achieving sustainable development [2]. However,  every goal in the 2030 Agenda requires education to empower people with the knowledge, skills, and values to live in dignity, build their lives and contribute to their societies [5]. 

‘Learning for people, planet, prosperity and peace’ is the theme of this year’s International Day of Education. The theme aims to shed light on the importance of education for empowering people, preserving the planet, building shared prosperity and fostering peace. The theme highlights the integrated nature of education and its humanistic aims, identifying learning as humanity’s greatest renewable resource. It reaffirms the role of education as a fundamental right, a public good and an enabler of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development [1].

Education, People, and Prosperity

According to the Global Education Monitoring Report 2019, millions of children and adults remain deprived of educational opportunities, many as a result of social, cultural and economic factors [4]. According to the United Nations [3]:

  • Today, 258 million children and youth still do not attend school
  • 1 out of 4 children between 6 and 17 years are not attending school
  • Enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 percent but 57 million primary age children remain out of school.
  • 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math
  • An estimated 50 percent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas.
  • More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa
  • More than half of the schools in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to basic drinking water, handwashing facilities, internet or computers
  • 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.
  • 750 million adults still remain illiterate; two-thirds of them are women
  • In Central Asia, 27% more girls than boys of primary school age are not attending school

Education in itself is an empowering right and one of the most powerful tools by which economically and socially marginalized children and adults can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully in society [2]. And 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 [2].

Education and Planet

In 47 countries covered by the 2005–2008 World Values Survey, the higher a person’s level of education, the more likely they were to express concern for the environment. Furthermore in the 2010-2012 World Values Survey, when forced to choose between protecting the environment versus boosting the economy, those respondents with secondary education favoured the environment more than those with less than secondary education [6].

People with more education tend not only to be more concerned about the environment but also to engage in actions that promote and support political decisions that protect the environment. It encourages them to use energy and water more efficiently and recycle household waste [6]. Keeping in mind that human survivability is at risk without significant changes to current development patterns, which cause environmental degradation, rapid biodiversity loss, and climate change [1]. Educating people about different human actions that are putting immense strain on the planet plays a major role in the climate change preventive efforts exerted world-wide.

Education and Peace

Education is a means to justice, a healthy sustainable life, and tolerance between people. It allows a basic understanding of the societies of people’s rights and responsibilities and empowers them to advocate for their rights and well-being. The way to make the world a more peaceful and better place for everyone should pass through protecting and promoting the right to education.

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References:

  1. International Day of Education 2020 Concept Note – UNESCO
  2. UNESCO
  3. Agenda for Sustainable Development – The United Nations
  4. Global Education Monitoring Report 2019
  5. Education 2030 – UNESCO
  6. World Education Blog – Education increases awareness and concern for the environment

Further Reads:

Convention Against Discrimination in Education

International Day of Education Resolution