The 4th anniversary of the International Day of Education, amidst a ravaging viral pandemic, represents the veritable need for an embrace of a holistic paradigm shift from all and sundry in the continual desire to make education more available, more accessible, and more affordable for the teeming billions who are now confronted with unprecedented challenges occasioned by the scourge.
The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity), as a social advocacy organisation whose founding tenets are deeply rooted in the attainment of a just society, is gravely disturbed by the prevailing lop-sidedness that threatens the education sector in a manner that has never been experienced. This year, the International Day of Education has a unique opportunity to beam its searchlight on those transformational initiatives that will guarantee equity in realising goals for education across the world.
Since it was initiated in 2019 via the instrumentality of the United Nations resolution of December 3, 2018, the International Day of Education has continued to highlight the essential role of education in global peace and development. The day has been utilised as a constant reminder that societies without inclusive and equitable quality education retard the world’s collective march towards the attainment of gender equality and dismantling the cycle of crippling poverty which threatens the very future of hundreds of millions of children, youth, and adults worldwide.
The theme for this year’s event – Changing Course: Transforming Education – advocates for a radical departure from status quo, and the adoption of policies and mindsets that will rethink education and transform the future in a concrete manner. As clearly stated in the latest Futures of Education Report by UNESCO, “transforming the future requires an urgent rebalancing of our relationships with each other, with nature, as well as with technology that permeates our lives, bearing breakthrough opportunities while raising serious concerns for equity, inclusion and democratic participation”.
This therefore means that all stakeholders must harness the platform provided by the global event to vigorously canvas and implement much needed transformations that must be put in place to guarantee education as a basic right for all in the pursuit of an equitable and sustainable future. This fundamental right is eloquently enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It bears reiterating that the crucial role played by education in fostering an inclusive world is currently at a most critical juncture due to factors such as widening inequalities, environmental degradation, and poverty. This sorry state of affairs has been made all the more precarious with the COVID-19 pandemic throwing up new scary vistas in the overall scheme of things. The pandemic has cruelly exposed the frailties of health and social systems everywhere, and deepened a crisis that, at its peak, forced over a billion young people out of school. Half of the total population of the world’s students are still bearing the brunt of partial or full school closures. The resultant forced recourse to digital learning exacerbated already widening inequalities, especially in countries grappling with pervasive poverty. Lack of internet access and the technological tools required to stay abreast with home-based learning in these worrying times have continued to limit means to education in several countries; a situation that puts millions at risk of never continuing their education, or totally dismantling years of progress.
The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) is of the firm conviction that there is no better time for a concerted global consensus on education than now. The 2022 International Day of Education is a golden chance for the reengineering of education as a public good and social responsibility. It offers itself as a battle-cry for humanity in general to conscientiously key into efforts at providing more robust support for teachers, bolstering funding, and learning opportunities, and making education more meaningful and relevant to everyone.
The world has no other choice than to formulate and deploy a new social contract for education whose primary purpose will be firmly rooted in equality, justice, and respect for human dignity and enterprise. We urge governments, organisations, and individuals to toe this noble path to birth a new and prosperous world order that is hinged on justice and mutual respect for rights.