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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF EDUCATION
January 24 @ 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
On the International Day of Education (A/RES/73/25), which takes place on 24 January 2020, the President of the General Assembly will convene a High-level Interactive Dialogue, in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York. The theme of the event will be, “Aligning Inclusive Quality Education Policies with Sustainable Development Goals”.
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.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 calls on Member States to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The priorities of the 74th session of the General Assembly are poverty eradication and zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion. Progress in the area of quality education is crucial to progress in all priority areas, as well as Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Global literacy rates have steadily increased since 1970. However, we cannot appreciate the gravity of the education challenge facing the world until we go beyond the figures. The recorded literacy and enrolment rates do not give insight as to the level of access to quality and inclusive education in different parts of the world.
Today, we face a learning crisis. Latest figures indicate that 262 million are out of school. For one in three of these children this is due to humanitarian crisis including conflict and natural disasters compounded by climate change. Nearly 60% of children and adolescents are unable to reach minimum proficiency levels in literacy and mathematics; even though one third of them are in school. A lack of trained teachers, inadequate learning materials, sanitation facilities and infrastructure impact the ability of children to learn. For some, their ability to learn is undermined by poverty, hunger, and illness.
There can be no barriers to education. Universal access to education is essential to ensuring quality education for all. We must take targeted action to facilitate the learning of those marginalized, including children with disabilities, children from ethnic minorities, girls, children on the move, and those at risk of being left behind. We must bridge urban-rural and socio-economic divisions to ensure inclusive education.
Investment in inclusive quality education underpins the success of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Education has the power to lift people out of poverty and is a key enabler for decent work. Quality inclusive education fosters self-esteem, skills in entrepreneurship and innovation while promoting full and productive employment opportunities for all, including learners with disabilities. Youth need skills that will equip them to navigate a rapidly changing world, this includes technical and vocational training.
Education must hone skills, including: critical thinking; creativity; communication; and decision-making. This will ensure that graduates are prepared to fully engage in society throughout their lives and are prepared for jobs in a rapidly developing world. Quality teacher training, strong curricula, and effective monitoring and evaluation of learning are integral to quality education. Moreover, it is crucial to promote tolerance through intercultural understanding and dialogue, in order to ensure well-rounded youth who are capable of reaching their full potential as global citizens.
Digital culture and literacy have changed the way we live, work, play and learn. It is essential to ensure the acquisition and effective transfer of knowledge and capacity-building between governments, civil society, and all stakeholders. To make gains, we must invest in infrastructure, including electrification, internet access, and the full integration of Information and Communications Technology in teaching and curricula, to facilitate access to education through internet-based learning programmes. We cannot allow the digital divide to deepen. We must ensure equal access to ICT for all.
Today, one billion girls and women do not have the skills required for an increasingly digitalized world. Girls’ access to education is compromised due to gender-based violence, early or forced marriage, insecure routes or long distances to school, lack of sanitation, as well as cultural norms and practices. A holistic approach to inclusive quality education should address these issues and ensure that every girl, everywhere can fulfill her potential.
According to the Global Education Monitoring Report, the annual financing gap for reaching SDG 4 is $39 billion. In order to make quality education a reality for all we need to close this financing gap. Partnerships and collaboration are fundamental to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. International entities, civil society, governments, and the private sector need to work together effectively for progress at national, regional, and global levels.
On the International Day of Education, it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to recommit to SDG 4. It is only through multilateral action that we will ensure that everyone, everywhere has equal access to quality education.
The High-Level Interactive Dialogue will seek to:
(a) Promote a common understanding of, and raise awareness about, the real meaning, benefits, and essentials of inclusive quality education and lifelong learning;
(b) Highlight the progress attained and the challenges encountered in implementing inclusive quality education within and across countries;
(c) Focus the participants’ attention on the link between inclusive quality education and lifelong learning, and effective implementation of the SDGs;
(d) Provide a forum for exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences on approaches for bridging the resource gaps in, and for establishing networks and strengthening partnerships for, the implementation of inclusive quality education; and
(e) Build a broad measure of consensus around the practical measures that need to be instituted, the resources to be mobilized, and the partnerships to be forged, within and across countries, to realize the underlying aims of inclusive quality education and lifelong learning.
All stakeholders are invited to participate in this High-level Dialogue, including: UN Member / Observer States; UN Agencies; intergovernmental organisations; regional organisations; civil society organisations; educators; students and youth.