An empty classroom to represent the International Day of Education.

Five Years of the International Day of Education

In 2021, we profiled the International Day of Education (IDE). Education is a powerful force, with an impact that defies initial expectations.

We previously looked at education’s power in the post-pandemic period. Let’s take a closer look at what makes education so important globally, along with the challenges that we still need to overcome.

The importance of education

The International Day of Education was established to increase access to education everywhere. Education has been, and continues to be, a catalyst for positive change around the world.

But education also has strong knock-on effects, benefitting societies at large.

  • Individual access to opportunity

Education gives people access to more opportunities and the power to improve their prospects. By providing people with better education for longer, their employability improves, and they have the option to continue their education even further.

  • Access to information

Being educated on how to find and read information empowers people by allowing them to make decisions based on the facts.

  • Equality

Most of the time, when access to education is scarce, it’s only the privileged few who benefit. Those in developing nations are less likely to receive an education. For example, in most countries in Africa, around 50% of people are illiterate. With more education, previously underrepresented groups are able to access the same opportunities, making for a more equal society.

  • Improved quality of life

One of the main benefits of greater access to education is a greater amount of published research. This research can help us discover new ways for people everywhere to live healthier and longer lives. More innovative research could help medical professionals to carefully evaluate inflammation in patients.

  • Better and more informed citizens

The International Day of Education brings to light the social power of education. Education makes people more aware of the world around them. This includes an awareness of the needs of others. It can therefore lead to a more tolerant and understanding society.

People with higher levels of education are also more likely to volunteer to help others.

  • Economic benefits

When people have better access to education, they bring skills to their local economy. This opens up opportunities for individuals and benefits everyone around them.

  • Environmental benefits

Education is the ultimate force for saving the environment. Thanks to research efforts, we know more than ever about the causes and effects of climate change. This is of the utmost importance when creating an action plan to mitigate damage and protect our world.

Important obstacles on the International Day of Education

The International Day of Education necessitates addressing the already existing issues. Some of the issues outlined by the UN are the following:

  • Children and youth out of education

It is estimated that 244 million children around the world aren’t in school. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 98 million children who should be in education, aren’t. This is followed by Central and Southern Asia, with 85 million. These figures serve to demonstrate that inequality starts early. When a child doesn’t have access to primary education, it places them behind in the job market, and leaves them without a foundation for future study and upskilling.

  • Foundational learning

A basic understanding of subjects like numeracy and literacy is lacking for at least 617 million children. Developing foundational skills like these can help more people understand what is happening in their own lives, and can provide access to greater opportunities.

  • War in Ukraine

The devastating war in Ukraine has meant less access to education. Understandably, parents are scared to send their children to school, with concerns for their safety. Global and internal conflict can, therefore, place limitations on access to education. Illiteracy among adults

Furthermore, 773 million adults are illiterate, the majority being women. This is a major barrier. When people are unable to read, or access information online and in libraries, they are restricted to what they are told by others. This makes them dependent and vulnerable. Furthermore, illiteracy prevents people from receiving a formal education, as most courses involve reading and writing as pre-requisites.

What can we do for the International Day of Education?

There are a couple of ways to improve the situation, at all stages of education rollout.

Publish research

Research is where it all begins. Research reports on the current education situation, and looks into new ways to increase access. Likewise, increasing access to this research enables its use by charities, and in government policy, both domestically and in terms of foreign aid.

Support UN initiatives

To support their mission to improve access to education for all, the UN has established public initiatives. We can also support these initiatives by raising awareness and discussing them in open forums.

  • Sustainable Development Goal 4 is ‘Education 2030’

In 2015, the Education 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda was signed by a number of world leaders in a supportive motion to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4. SDG 4 represents ‘inclusive and equitable quality education’.

  • Futures of Education initiative

The International Commission, an independent body, released a report on the current state of education and how this can be improved in the future, in the form of a new social contract.

  • #RightToEducation campaign

In 1948, education was included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, as cited, millions of people around the world do not have access to a proper education. Sharing the #RightToEducation hashtag helps to raise awareness of this issue across media platforms.

Donate to charities

Charities are on the frontline, helping communities where it matters most. With access to research and knowledge of UN initiatives, they can make a difference where needed. As citizens, we can help by donating to these charities, to enable them to carry out their work.