United Nations General Assembly declared January 24th as the International Day of Education, established by the in 2018. The day calls for maintaining strong political mobilization worldwide. It also reminds us that education is a fundamental human right, essential to societal advancement, and a driver of worldwide prosperity. Read on to learn more.
Featured in: January - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.
History and Background of International Day of Education
Establishing the International Day of Education marked a significant shift towards prioritizing education, in line with SDG 4: Quality Education.
Nigeria spearheaded the initiative, with support from 58 other member states, by adopting Resolution 73/25 on December 3, 2018. It demonstrates the collective recognition of the vital role of education in building resilient societies.
Since 2018, the event has grown significantly, with participation from prominent stakeholders in the education sector, including member states, the UN system, and private sector partners.
In 2019, the inaugural event became a bustling discussion forum. It has also adopted various themes; in 2023, it was “to invest in people, prioritize education.”
The Cause and Its Challenges
Education can change lives, but unfortunately, many people worldwide cannot access it. The International Day of Education aims to draw attention to global educational inequality and advocates for quality, inclusive, and fair learning opportunities for all.
For example, UNESCO reports that approximately 258 million children and young people are not receiving education. This reality poses serious consequences for our shared future1.
Poverty, remote locations, ongoing conflicts, and discrimination present significant obstacles to education, particularly in countries with low to moderate incomes. Moreover, girls in these regions often face unique barriers, such as early marriage or pregnancy, which can abruptly disrupt their education.
Likewise, the World Bank says the quality of education is a major concern in low- and middle-income countries. More than half of the children in these countries cannot read and comprehend a basic story by the time they finish primary school. This problem raises the question of whether children receive a good education even if they attend school.
Related read: Teacher Appreciation Week.
Why the International Day of Education Matters
Around 258 million children and teenagers are missing out on their chance to learn. This highlights the need to make education accessible to everyone. However, the crisis is not limited to them alone.
According to recent numbers by UNESCO, 763 million adults across the globe cannot read or write, and two-thirds of them are women. Education for all helps achieve gender equality.
Still, education is about more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic. It catalyzes economic growth, helps fight poverty and inequality, and lays the groundwork for peace and stability. Investing in education is investing in a sustainable future.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the education sector tremendously. Schools across 190 countries had to shut down, affecting 1.6 billion students. This indicates that our education systems are fragile, and we must find innovative solutions, especially with uncertainties like global recession or bigger issues like the climate crisis.
The United Nations has set a goal to provide primary and secondary education to every child by 2030. But, the annual funding gap of $39 billion must be bridged to achieve this goal, which means nations must invest in education.
Efforts and Initiatives
UNESCO's Global Education Monitoring Report guides and charts the worldwide progress of education. This comprehensive study monitors the progress toward global education goals and provides a detailed picture of worldwide educational practices.
Meanwhile, the World Bank's "Learning for All" initiative calls for access to education and meaningful learning for every child, regardless of their circumstances.
The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 4, aim to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all" by 2030. Likewise, the international community recognized the importance of education in attaining all 17 SDGs.
Finally, UNICEF has started the "Education Cannot Wait" fund, an ambitious yet essential goal to provide every crisis-affected child with safe, free, and quality education by 2030.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also mandates free and compulsory elementary education. Moreover, the Convention on the Rights of the Child declares that nations should make higher education accessible to all.
How to Get Involved and Support International Day of Education
- Promote the International Day of Education through social media.
- Share heartwarming stories of students overcoming obstacles or statistics highlighting education's transformative power to help raise awareness about this critical day.
- Join volunteer opportunities in local schools or educational institutions. These roles could range from mentoring a student to helping with paperwork or conducting a seminar.
- Help raise funds by organizing a charity run in a neighborhood park or bake-offs at the office. These efforts can resonate with people, and the funds raised can be directed toward non-profits committed to improving education.
The International Day of Education highlights the importance of quality, accessible education, which many still dream of. Education is a roadmap towards sustainable development, uplifting marginalized communities, and bridging the inequality gap.
We must advocate for educational rights and inclusive policies and support organizations undertaking global initiatives to accelerate progress. Access to education can help create a better world, and everyone can collectively contribute to this cause with small actions.
International Day of Education: FAQs
It is an annual observance that highlights the importance of education and promotes access to quality education for all individuals globally.
It is celebrated on January 24th every year.
This occasion raises awareness about education's crucial role in eradicating poverty, promoting sustainable development, and fostering peace and equality.
You can support educational initiatives, advocate for equal access to education, volunteer in educational programs, or donate to organizations working towards academic development.
These challenges include limited access to quality education in marginalized communities, lack of educational resources and infrastructure, insufficient funding, gender inequality in education, and conflicts or emergencies that disrupt educational systems.
Global Education Monitoring Report 2020. (2020). Inclusion and education: All means all. Paris: UNESCO.