Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of the International Day of Education
24 January 2020
On this International Day, we 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.
This day thus provides an opportunity to remember that education is a valuable resource for humanity. However, it is also a resource which is all too scarce for millions of people around the world.
The global learning crisis, confirmed by data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, should be cause for major concern. Since education is the key to all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a learning crisis is also a crisis for prosperity, for the planet, for peace and for people.
UNESCO, charged with coordinating the international community’s efforts to achieve SDG 4, quality education for all, has a particular responsibility in this context. It is for this reason that we take action for each of the four Ps.
First and foremost, our Organization takes action for people, by making education an instrument of inclusion and, therefore, of empowerment.
The major literacy campaigns on which UNESCO’s history is built, and which continue today, have thus opened up a world of opportunities for millions of men and women. Today, it is to unlock people’s potential that UNESCO is working to foster student mobility by adopting, at the 40th session of the General Conference, the first global convention on the recognition of qualifications in higher education.
Taking action for education also means taking action for prosperity – because education is the best investment for the future. Education is, in the medium and long term, the most effective means of reducing poverty and inequality and encouraging 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. We will share our expertise with States in order to reach this objective.
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.
Because, now more than ever, we need to mobilize, UNESCO, on the occasion of the International Day of Education, is issuing a call 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.