Today, the global community marks the first International Day of Education.
For students, teachers, and organizations that support children’s right to education, it’s been a long time coming. Since the 1990s, activists have mobilized to try and ensure education gets more attention globally and nationally. The United Nations hopes to use this day to highlight education’s fundamental and transformative contributions towards peace and sustainable development. It is also important to highlight that the international community has not provided sufficient or consistent global and national financing, or consistently tackled all barriers, to ensure all children benefit from a good, inclusive education.
Ironically, education is one of the basic human rights that global leaders frequently talk about. At Davos, the United Nations General Assembly, and G20 meetings, heads of state, government ministers, and UN agency experts widely agree that countries cannot develop without quality education for all. Many speak movingly of how education transformed their own lives.
If personal accounts of education’s importance translated into action, many of the problems and inequalities within education would have already been addressed. Yet, today’s education deficit – the tremendous gap between government’s international obligations to deliver on the right to education and what children actually experience in their local communities – shows that many challenges lay ahead.
Millions of children around the world should not continue to experience a complete denial of their right to education. Among them, millions of children with disabilities who are told there is no school for them, refugee children who are made to wait for years before host governments grant them adequate school access, children whose schools have been bombed or taken over by military forces during war, and children from minority backgrounds who are deprived of a quality education in their communities.
The right to education deserves more than one day. Let’s work to make 2019 the year education becomes a reality for millions more children around the world.