As we mark International Day of Education, David Atchoarena urges countries to redouble their efforts to ensure no one’s right to education is denied
Today is International
Day of Education, a moment not only to celebrate education’s
powerful contribution to sustainable human prosperity, progress and peace, but
also to assert its wider value – as a human right and as an important public
It is an
opportune time to consider both what we have achieved in realizing the right to
education and how far we have to go to ensure this right is realized for every
woman, man and child, wherever they live in the world, whatever their
background or personal circumstances.
challenges we face are enormous. Some 258 million children and youth still do
not attend school, four million children and youth refugees are out of school,
and 773 million adults around the world cannot read or write, most of them
women. In too many cases, disadvantaged and marginalized groups remain excluded
from participation in adult learning and education, as the new UNESCO
Global Report on Adult Learning and Education points out. Their
right to education is being denied. This is unacceptable. Continue reading →
The fourth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education represents a wake-up call to countries to do more to advance participation in adult education – we need to heed it, saysDavid Atchoarena
Published by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), the new Global Report on Adult Learning and Education– GRALE 4 – is a landmark publication in the field of adult learning and education (ALE) for the international education policy community.
The report charts UNESCO Member States’ progress against the commitments made at the sixth International Conference on Adult Education in 2009 and codified in the Belém Framework for Action, with a special emphasis, in this report, on participation in ALE. The story it tells is in some ways a positive one – more than half of responding countries reported an increase in overall participation between 2015 and 2018 – but the overwhelming message is that participation is still far too low, and that progress, overall, is insufficient, particularly among disadvantaged groups. Investment too is far from where it needs to be, with one in five countries reporting spending less than 0.5% of their education budgets on ALE and a further 14% spending less than 1%. Continue reading →
Konstantinos Pagratis reflects on how education can support the global struggle to end poverty
Last week, the world marked the International
Day for the Eradication of Poverty, an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment
to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 – to end poverty in all its forms
everywhere – and to highlight the complex, multidimensional nature of the
challenges we face in achieving it.
Education is not a silver bullet when it comes
to ending poverty, but it has a crucial role to play, both in securing SDG 1
and in fulfilling the commitment made by Member States in signing up to the
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: to leave no one behind.
UNESCO believes that the fight against poverty
demands the strengthening of individuals’ capacities through education, which
represents a source not only of employment but also of pride, dignity and
agency. As Audrey Azoulay, the Director General of UNESCO, observes, ‘for each
year a girl spends in the classroom, her future income will increase by 10 to
20 per cent’. Continue reading →
Qiongzhuoma Heimbel explains how family and intergenerational literacy and learning programmes can improve literacy rates around the world
Despite a rise in literacy rates in the last quarter of a century, more than 781 million adults around the world still lack basic reading and writing skills. Low levels of literacy prevent people from securing decent work and improving their lives. The 2014 United Nations General Assembly resolution, Literacy for life: Shaping future agendas, reaffirmed literacy as ‘a foundation for lifelong learning, a building block for achieving human rights and fundamental freedoms, and a driver of sustainable development’. In response, Member States began promoting more basic adult literacy programmes, especially for disadvantaged groups.
Quite often, the motivation for the adult learners who take part in these programmes is to improve their literacy skills in order to support their children’s learning. These adults, many of whom have never been to school or dropped out, understand that literacy can lead to a better life for their children. However, despite a desire to see their children progress at school, many parents who see themselves as ‘uneducated’ or ‘illiterate’ are reluctant to take part in learning programmes. Continue reading →
Respect for linguistic diversity is a precondition of authentic dialogue and cooperation, writes David Atchoarena on International Mother Language Day
First published, 21 February 2018
It is sobering to reflect that some 40 per cent of the global population do not have access to education in a language they can speak or understand. Many millions of children are taught in a language they do not speak at home, while, for equally huge numbers of adults, the unavailability of learning programmes in their mother tongue remains an insurmountable barrier to furthering their education.
This is why International Mother Language Day, observed worldwide each year on 21 February, is so important. Everyone has a right to speak and learn in their mother language and that right should be reflected in national education systems around the world. Continue reading →
Kabir Shaikh on the power of conversation in a fragmented world
First published, 29 January 2018
It has been a joy and an honour for me to serve as interim director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) over the past five months. I leave with a strong impression of the wide significance of UIL’s work, and of lifelong learning more generally, and a powerful sense of an organization with a brilliant future, staffed by talented, enterprising people and guided by a committed and far-sighted board of governors.
I have two main observations from my time at UIL. First, lifelong learning has a hugely important role to play across a range of platforms and in the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, yet understanding of this contribution is often low among policymakers, despite its growing prevalence in education discourse. And while there are many local and national politicians who get it, there are many, many more who do not. Continue reading →