20 January 2021

Right to Education Must Be Protected to Avert Generational Catastrophe, Secretary-General Warns, Calling Learning ‘Global Public Good’

Following is UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ message for the International Day of Education, observed on 24 January:

When education is interrupted, it affects everyone — especially students, teachers and families.  Today, on the third International Day of Education, I pay tribute to their resilience in the face of a pandemic that, at its peak, forced almost every school, institute and university to close its doors.

Although this disruption has led to learning innovations, it has also dashed hopes of a brighter future among vulnerable populations.  All of us pay the price.  After all, education is the foundation for expanding opportunities, transforming economies, fighting intolerance, protecting our planet and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

As the world continues to battle the pandemic, education — as a fundamental right and a global public good — must be protected to avert a generational catastrophe.  Even before the pandemic, some 258 million children and adolescents were out of school, the majority of them girls.  More than half of 10-year-olds in low- and middle-income countries were not learning to read a simple text.

In 2021, we must seize all opportunities to turn this situation around.  We must ensure the full replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education fund and strengthen global education cooperation.  We must also step up our efforts to reimagine education — training teachers, bridging the digital divide and rethinking curricula to equip learners with the skills and knowledge to flourish in our rapidly changing world.

Let us commit to promote education for all, today and every day.

For information media. Not an official record.