Education is not only a basic human right, but also a civic and governmental responsibility. This is because education is a public good which plays a vital role in attaining and maintaining peace, resilience, and sustainable development of our global community. First observed in 2019, 24 January is marked as the annual celebration of International Day of Education. While not one of the older global events, this observation was ushered in by the United Nations General Assembly as part of their efforts to promote “the betterment of [the] educated individual that constitutes a cultured society, which is supported with optimism and opportunities”, and is based in an unwavering political desire to promote quality non-discriminatory education for all.
International issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, and raging socio-economic inequalities have greatly obstructed the venture to endorse and celebrate education at a global scale. While these obstacles have hindered many nations’ efforts to foster inclusive and impartial education, education forms the essential foundation people need to raise themselves out of cycles of poverty and, as such, national administrations cannot give up their efforts without a fight. Rather, it is necessary for governments to rethink their approaches to education and avoid the pothole laden paths they have followed thus far.
The future is uncertain and our current route is neither stable nor sustainable. Accordingly, the fourth International Day of Education held in 2022 focused on overhauling our trajectory to transform education as we know it. An effective approach requires us to not only re-evaluate our relationships with our fellow human beings and both the natural and technological worlds around us, but also raise awareness and champion causes such as equity, inclusivity, and democratic participation. Realising these stances will promote wider education which is both key to the charting of a more effective and sustainable path forward and a result thereof.
In 2023, society should seek to further this endeavour by bringing the focus back to education as the priority and investing in people. The UN created global momentum through their “Transforming Education Summit” which was held in September 2022. This conference sought to elevate education towards the top of the global political agenda in order to mobilise further solutions and action to stimulate recovery from the losses in learning which were suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that we are more aware of how the global approach to education should change, we can shift efforts towards enacting this change effectively.
On governmental level, education requires additional funding and improved foundational support. Budgeting needs to prioritise the building of additional facilities and the maintenance of existing school buildings, as well as teacher training programs, which need to be revised to better prepare teachers to educate the youth of today and qualify them to deal with contemporary issues. Standardised testing was first introduced in 1845 and an update of this system is long overdue. Teachers and students should also be granted a voice regarding education policies as they are most directly affected.
With governmental support and ground-up action, education can be ameliorated to the benefit of millions of children worldwide. Do your part this International Day of Education, and spread the word – Education for all, and for all, a better world!