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International Day of Education

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Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Nelson Mandela

The fact you’re reading this means you’re one of the 84% of adults across the world who can read. It’s highly likely you learnt to read at school. However, there are still 258 million children and adolescents out of school, and a surprising 617 million who can’t read (partly due to teaching quality issues and drop-out rates). Today is the UN’s International Day of Education, when education is celebrated across the world as a human right, a public good and a public responsibility.  Why?

  • Education plays a key role in peace, gender equality, and development, whereas a lack of knowledge can exacerbate poverty, fear of difference, inequality and conflict. 
  • It contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty (through a healthy, skilled workforce). 
  • Education for climate action helps us learn how to produce and consume responsibly for the future of our beautiful planet.
  • Education shouldn’t be a privilege – it’s a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

UNESCO tells us that today, 258 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic maths; 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 isn’t being fulfilled.  This is why working towards fulfilling SDG 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, is so important.

Here in the UK, compulsory education to age 10 was introduced in 1880, yet it was only made mandatory to age 16 in 1972. So, next time you ask ‘Why do I have to go to school?’ (which my 13 year old son does regularly when he’d rather stay in bed!), remember your education is a powerful tool for a better future.

Bonita Sharma would agree – a female role model for the next generation of girls and women in Nepal – using her education to prevent malnutrition and promote female empowerment.

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