International Day of Education
International Day of Education
24 January marks International Day of Education around the world. According to the United Nations, the theme for 2021 is Recover and Revitalise Education for the COVID-19 Generation.
Through the UN’s Agenda 2030, the international community has emphasised that education is essential for the success of all 17 of Agenda 2030’s Sustainable Development Goals. Yet a lot more needs to be done before the 2030 target date to ensure an inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Even in terms of the basic aim of providing education to all young people, it is a sobering fact that throughout the world 600 million children and young people still do not have access to education.
In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic worsened this situation by causing a global learning disruption of unprecedented scale and severity, which, as so often happens in crisis situations, has impacted the most vulnerable in our societies the hardest.
The pandemic, which is unprecedented in its global intensity and impact, laid bare global risks that have been ignored for decades. What started as a sanitary crisis turned into an economic and subsequently a social crisis, and then into a geopolitical crisis as tensions rose across the globe – and continue to do so. And all this is happening under the cloud of the looming climate crisis.
In this context, education is more important than ever. The disruption caused by the pandemic has been too strong and widespread for us to be able to go back to the world we knew before 2020. This will require all of us – no matter our nationality, the generation we belong to, or the level of experience and education we already have – to reflect on and understand how best to prepare ourselves, our organisation, our country and our planet for this new future we are facing. We all need to make education a priority as we figure out what will be needed to thrive in the post-COVID era. In a future that has uncertainty as one of its principle qualities, one thing is certain – education will be more essential than ever.
Some of the questions we need to ask ourselves are as follows:
- How can we best understand and learn about the changes that COVID-19 will bring about in our area of expertise, in our employment sector, in our country and globally?
- As leaders, what new skills do we need to develop, how do we need to change our mindsets, and what new toolsets do we need to learn to cope with the new – post-COVID – reality we are facing?
- What kind of jobs will totally disappear as a result of the changes brought about by the pandemic and what are new jobs that will appear? How do we ensure that we are ready for them?
- Specifically, given their position in conservative – and even more progressive – cultures, how do we equip women and girls with access to digital tools and skills to limit the widening gender gap in the global labour market?
- How do we ensure good-quality Internet access at an affordable price for all countries in the world and guarantee access to education for all – children, youth and adults. (It is worth noting here, for example, that lack of Internet access is still a major obstacle preventing access to education in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa.)
- How do we ensure that the ever-widening availability of virtual and online education will reach children, youth, women and men in conflict-affected areas?
As we continue to navigate the ongoing complexities and uncertainties of our world in 2021 and beyond, we know that none of us can predict the future, but we can prepare for it. As the futurist author Bob Johansen says: “The VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world of the future will be formidable and loaded with opportunities. The biggest danger is not being prepared”.
Discover more about the executive education and/or customised educational solutions offered at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy to help you – as a leader in peace and security – to prepare yourself to successfully address the challenges ahead of you and to harness the many opportunities that will arise for you to contribute to a safer and more peaceful world.