Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed January 24 as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development. 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 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.
Empowering teachers, strengthening financing and providing opportunities to learn throughout life are conditions for forging a new social contract. But moving education to the epicenter of transformation and making it meaningful for every person involves a political and societal shift to strengthen the public functions of education as a shared endeavor. It calls for a broad movement encompassing governments, civil society, educators, students and youth to mobilize our collective intelligence and reimagine our futures together, building on acts of courage, creativity, care and resistance that each plant seeds of hope.
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.