In New York, Dianova participated in an event organized by the NGO Committee on Education, Learning and Literacy, designed to emphasize learning opportunities for vulnerable people
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” (Nelson Mandela).
by María Victoria Espada – Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. However, data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) confirms that this is not always the case: 258 million children and adolescents do not attend school, 617 million children and adolescents can neither read not do basic mathematics, and less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete basic secondary education.
The 24th January was proclaimed International Day of Education by the The United Nations General Assembly, in order to reaffirm the role of education in achieving peace and development. Without inclusive and equitable quality education for all, countries cannot break the cycle of poverty nor achieve gender equality, amongst other development challenges. As such, the 2020 celebration confirms education and learning as humanity’s greatest renewable resources, which can empower people, preserve the planet, build shared prosperity, and promote peace.
To commemorate this day, the Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations on Education, Learning and Literacy (NGO CELL) hosted an event in New York City focused on “Opportunities for Education, Learning and Literacy for Vulnerable Populations”. As noted by the United Nations Secretary General in his report on the progress made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in order to expedite Sustainable Development Goal 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” we need to enhance, amongst other things, the learning outcomes of marginalised people in vulnerable environments. The various initiatives presented at the NGO CELL event, attended by Dianova International, are a good example of the work that different organizations and countries are undertaking to contribute to attaining this objective.
Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, presented some of his country’s accomplishments in education, the centrepiece of the president’s programme. Currently, the national student enrollment rate stands at 69%, which is double the rate recorded for the African continent as a whole (35%), and efforts are being made to enhance the access, quality and relevance of education. Extensive national resources are also being dedicated to building schools and other premises, in order to make free upper basic education possible for all students. For the Deputy Minister, Africa’s transformation will come, without a doubt, through education.
On many occasions, lack of information generates fear, and fear results in stigma. Globally, there are 70 million people with autism, 85% of whom live in developing countries. In many of these countries, the children are rejected by the community, due to the popular belief that “they are possessed by evil spirits” and their families are severely affected. Working with the community and for the community, and hand in hand with local leaders, Global Autism Project trains staff at autism centres around the world, to help these children be accepted by their communities and live a better and more fulfilling life, embodying the saying “it takes a whole village to raise a child”.
In Jamaica, Pain Relief International also works closely with low-income communities, to make up for the lack of services for children with special needs.
By establishing continuous, long-term relationships with families, this organization provides clinical care, community education and health promotion through an interdisciplinary educational model. The results show that teachers and parents respond positively to information and dialogue, valuing both the model and the content of the learning.
Similarly, the manual “Journalism, ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation“, published by UNESCO, was made available for all those who practice or teach journalism in this digital age. As well as addressing a particularly topical area, this manual is an excellent resource for reflection on equality, intercultural and interreligious dialogue, peace, freedom of expression and access to information. It also forms part of a broad project on Media and Information Literacy, related to education for global citizenship and education for sustainable development, also recognized in SDG 4.
Before the close of the event, speakers and attendees exchanged opinions and experiences, emphasizing the need to work together towards the same objective, and thus make possible that which seems a priori impossible: guaranteeing inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting permanent learning opportunities for all.