The United Nations’ (UN) International Education Day is observed on the 24th of January every year. The first International Education Day was observed in 2019. This year's celebration marks the fourth of its kind. It will be held on Monday, 24th January 2022. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Changing Course, Transforming Education” as proclaimed by UNESCO.
According to UNESCO, “258 million children and youth still do not attend 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.” It is disturbing to know that although education is considered as a fundamental human right, many people do not have access to it.
In addition to education bringing about global peace and development, it is important to note that the significance of commemorating this day is that education is essential for the success of all 17 sustainable development goals. Transforming the future and accomplishing Agenda 2030 can largely be achieved by first transforming education.
The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a stark reminder of our fragilities with regards to education. The pandemic required schools to be closed and students and teachers to quickly adapt and rely on the use of digital technology for learning. This deepened exclusion and gender equalities.
With the impact of the pandemic, growing issues of inequalities, a damaged planet amongst many others the world can continue on an unsustainable path or change course to influence the future, hence, the theme of this year’s observance.
Changing course and transforming education to benefit the world at large goes beyond individual effort. It requires a shared endeavour which involves a political and societal shift. Individuals, businesses, governments and civil society have a role to play in transforming education.
Some objectives of the day include putting a new social contract in education in motion and showcasing transformations in action with potential for scaling to advance digital inclusion, green competences and skills, and gender equality.
This year’s observance also seeks to throw a spotlight on student voices on what changes and innovations they want to see to make their education more fit for purpose and teachers’ voices on the future of their profession including integrating technology in their practice.
The day aims to promote awareness about education as a fundamental human right and a public responsibility. Good and quality education can empower people, foster peace and development and help save the planet.