International Education Day: A Fundamental Human Right

International Education Day is observed on January 24 to celebrate the role of education in peace and development as a human right, a public good and a collective responsibility.

International Education Day is observed on January 24 to celebrate the role of education in peace and development as a human right, a public good and a collective responsibility.

 

Without quality, inclusive and equitable education for all that provides lifelong learning opportunities, countries will not achieve gender equality or break the cycle of poverty that leaves millions of children, youth and adults behind.

 

Today, 250 million children and youth worldwide are out of school and 763 million adults are illiterate. They are not exercising their right to education and this is unacceptable.

 

A fundamental human right

 

Education is a fundamental human right that helps lift men and women out of poverty, overcome inequalities and ensure sustainable development. Yet millions of children and young people around the world remain out of school for social, economic or cultural reasons.

 

Education is one of the most powerful tools for lifting marginalized children and adults out of poverty, as well as a catalyst for securing other fundamental human rights. It is the most sustainable investment.

 

Gender equality and education

 

Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO. Worldwide, 122 million girls and 128 million boys are out of school. Women still account for nearly two-thirds of adults who cannot read.

 

UNESCO calls for attention to gender equality throughout the education system in relation to access, content, teaching and learning context and practices, learning outcomes, and life and work opportunities.

 

UNESCO’s Strategy for Gender Equality in and through Education (2019-2025) focuses on system-wide transformation for the benefit of all learners equally in three key interventions: better data to underpin action, improved legal and policy frameworks to promote rights, and improved teaching and learning practices for empowerment.

 

Learning for lasting peace

 

The theme of International Education Day 2024 is “Learning for lasting peace”. The world is witnessing a wave of violent conflict while there is an alarming increase in discrimination, racism, xenophobia and hate speech. The impact of this violence transcends any boundaries based on geography, gender, race, religion, politics, offline and online. An active commitment to peace is more urgent today than ever.

 

Education is central to this endeavor, as the UNESCO Recommendation on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Sustainable Development underlines. Learning for peace must be transformative and contribute to equipping learners with the knowledge, values, attitudes, skills and behaviors needed to become agents of peace in their communities.

 

This is why UNESCO is dedicating this year’s International Education Day to the crucial role of education and teachers in combating hate speech, a phenomenon that has multiplied in recent years with the use of social media, damaging the fabric of our societies.

 

By: Juan Carlos Ugarelli

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