Blog by Evelyne Para, UN Representative of SI at UNESCO.
“For UNESCO, education is a priority, as a human right, and as a public good.
UNESCO assists countries in developing high-quality and inclusive education systems through building capacity to design and implement education policy. Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality nor break the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.
On the occasion of the International Day of Education, UNESCO and its partners, NGOs and representatives of civil society, are celebrating education’s powerful influence on action in support of the four Ps on which our future depends: action for People, for Prosperity, for the Planet and for Peace.
First and foremost, we have to take action for people, by making education an instrument of inclusion and, therefore, of empowerment. Education is at the heart of both personal and community development. Its mission is to help all people develop their talents fully and to realise their creative potentials, including responsibility for their own lives and the capacity to contribute to society.
Education is also a powerful catalyst – for combating poverty and inequality, improving health and well-being, and overcoming discrimination. It is the key to confronting multidimensional social challenges, such as poverty, gender inequality and social isolation.
Taking action for education also means taking action for prosperity – because education is the best investment for the future.
Education, including vocational skills development, is essential for inclusive growth that does not leave anyone behind. Education and training can enhance job opportunities, increase the incomes of the poorest and, if equitably provided, reduce inequality and encourage social inclusion. It is for this reason that UNESCO places particular emphasis on the promotion of girls’ and women’s education through its “Her Education, Our Future” initiative.
Education also provides key solutions for a planet threatened by a climate imbalance the consequences of which become more obvious with each passing day. Only education has the power to sustainably change societies’ behaviour, as necessitated by the challenge of global warming. This is why UNESCO has called on all its Member States to incorporate environmental education into their curricula, from nursery school to university.
Finally, education is the cornerstone of peace. Education is an opening up to others, a path of intelligence which leads to intercultural understanding, to reconciliation, to fellowship. This is the meaning of the global citizenship education promoted by UNESCO.
In conclusion, on the occasion of this International Day of Education, UNESCO has called for action – action for education. High-level political authorities and citizens, States and associations, teachers and parents of students: everyone, in their own way, has a role to play in making the right to education a reality for all. It is our responsibility to future generations, because only Education can transform our lives.”
Images courtesy of UNESCO