Education may be a human right accessible to all, enshrined in international texts, but it is struggling to be respected and applied on this fifth International Day of Education. With dramatic consequences for the future of the youngest and the world.
International Education Day will be celebrated on 24 January for the fifth consecutive year, on the theme chosen by the United Nations "Investing in people, making education a priority". For Action Education, it is high time to think about it!
Education, the first victim of sectoral crises
For a long time, the lights have been on. In 2018, UNESCO was already warning about the stagnation in the number of children not attending school for almost a decade and was alarmed by the number of children, particularly in the least developed countries, who are unable to read a simple sentence even after several years spent in school. Five years later, despite repeated warnings from all those involved in education, the situation has become much worse. Under the effect of multi-sectoral crises - political, economic, security, climatic - there is a great risk that a large number of children will be taken out of school, particularly because of the growing poverty of households. Following the closure of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children facing learning poverty has soared from 53% in the least developed countries to over 70% and governments now have little capacity - or political will - to increase education budgets. Donor countries of international aid to education, also faced with inflation and rising energy and commodity costs, are also likely to reduce their contribution to global education in favour of sectors deemed more essential
Children and young people deprived of a future and power to act
For entire generations of children and young people, the situation is dramatic. Deprived of essential knowledge, of their fundamental right to education, they will find themselves deprived of employment tomorrow, unable to integrate socio-economically into society, unable to contribute to the construction of a sustainable world, and even more seriously exposed to crises and economic and climatic shocks. Today, more than 222 million children and young people are already living in crisis situations with urgent educational needs. How many will they be tomorrow in the face of ever-increasing crises? How will they be able to live, have their rights respected and contribute to the construction of the just and sustainable world that all States have committed to achieve by 2030? The answer is simple: they will not be able to do so and will feel hatred and resentment against a world that has not been able to keep its commitments.
Making education our priority
For these young people and for the future of the world, access to quality education is therefore fundamental. It is the only way for them to acquire the know-how, interpersonal skills, competences and knowledge that will enable them to become more autonomous, to know their rights, to exercise them and to have them respected. In this world in crisis, where inequalities are multiplying and discrimination is increasing, Action Education is more than ever committed in 2023 to helping the most vulnerable populations and making them actors in their development. Alongside children, young people, girls and women, our NGO remains mobilised to remind public authorities of their obligation to guarantee the right to a quality education, public, free, accessible to all, without any form of discrimination.