As we lead into the Africa Year of Education
, and under the leadership of Africa, world leaders have an opportunity to solidify commitments to ‘Educate an Africa Fit for the 21st Century’. That means to empower Africa to deliver on the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Paris Agreement and Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to invest in an end to inequity through the power of quality education and lifelong learning.
Education is the bedrock of peace, the foundation of strong societies, and the building block for a better world. This year, as we celebrate the Sixth International Day of Education
under the theme of ‘learning for a lasting peace’, we call on world leaders to end wars and armed conflicts and focus on our common humanity to embrace the vast potential learning offers in uniting our world.
Today we mark a milestone in history: the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
. As people around the world commemorate Human Rights Day, we must also deeply reflect on the meaning of this historic document and what it takes to achieve peace in the world.
“The one international language the world understands” wrote Eglantyne Jebb, founder of Save the Children, “is the cry of a child,” and the evidence is accumulating that children are not only the innocent victims of conflict whose pleas need to be heard, but also the most vulnerable victims of climate change.
The UN Secretary-General has defined the crisis in Gaza not just as a humanitarian crisis, but rather as a crisis of humanity. According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres
: “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day.” This continued trend of violence and disregard for international humanitarian law and human life has enveloped our world.
Today, as we commemorate United Nations Day, more than 224 million children and adolescents are in need of quality education, and the hope, protection and opportunity it provides. Their numbers are increasing by the day. From Afghanistan and Sudan to Ukraine; from South Sudan, Latin America and across sub-Saharan Africa; and in Gaza, where 50% of the total population of 2.2 million are children under siege.
We are in a race to deliver on our global promise of education for all by 2030 – especially for the 224 million girls and boys impacted by armed conflict, climate change, forced displacement and other protracted crises who so urgently need our support. At the frontlines of this movement are the inspiring, caring, brilliant teachers who work tirelessly to educate future generations.
“My dream is to become a teacher,” says 13-year-old Alia. A small glimmer of hope can be traced in her beautiful, almond-shaped, brown eyes. Together with her mother, siblings and aunt, Alia has fled the conflict in Sudan to Chad. With extraordinary courage to survive, she made the harrowing journey at night across checkpoints, threatened by guns and militia roaming around in the dark. While her eyes are still hollow from the flight, I see that sparkle for a split second: she still has hope.
Today, we mark the second anniversary of the ban on secondary school girls’ education in Afghanistan and join the world in calling for it to be lifted now.
To save our people and our planet from the life-threatening risks of the climate crisis, we must invest in the education of today’s youth. They will be the climate activists, climate scientists, climate innovators, game-changers and leaders of the 21st century green economy.
We all know and agree that patience is a virtue. It is indeed. With one exception.
In the face of a child’s suffering, impatience is the highest virtue. Or as we say in the spirit of Education Cannot Wait: “We must be unapologetically impatient” in our collective goal to reach 224 million crisis-affected children and adolescents with quality education.
Sexual violence is unacceptable in any shape or form, in all contexts, including those of conflict.
As we come together on the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
, we must reflect together on the pain, horror, fear and inhumanity that rape, sexual abuse, trafficking, slavery, child marriage and other forms of conflict-related sexual violence bring to a young child’s life, hence, our collective humanity.
As we head into June, we will commemorate a number of important international days that call for much-needed support to protect refugees, end child labour, stop sexual violence in conflict and ensure human rights for the innocent children victims of aggression.
Worldwide, 160 million children are engaged in child labour. Without access to safe, quality educational opportunities, their dreams of a better future have been cut short. As we commemorate the World Day Against Child Labour
, we must continue to support their protection from child abuse and violations – and the right to 12 years of quality education – for every girl and boy on the planet.
Children are not targets. Children are not soldiers. Children are not weapons. As we commemorate the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
, we call on leaders everywhere to embrace the commitments outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child
and the Safe Schools Declaration
to ensure girls and boys everywhere are able to reach their full potential without fear, without intimidation and without violence.
At this year’s G7 Hiroshima Summit
in Japan, world leaders will have a chance to “uphold the international order based on the rule of law and extend outreach to the Global South.” Education, as a binding force that unites us all in our global efforts to protect human rights and ensure sustainable development, should be front and centre on the G7 Agenda.
A civilian student named Saber was caught in the crossfire in Khartoum. He had two choices: either flee and lose everything; or die. But within a moment his option to choose was violently denied: he died.
Only forty-five days into our new Strategic Plan 2023-2026, Education Cannot Wait secured 55 percent of its total requirement for the coming four years, reaching $826 million at #HLFC2023. This is a significant milestone for education in emergencies and protracted crises, and ECW will continue to pursue fund-raising year-round in the coming four years. The goal is to reach the target of 20 million children and adolescents
affected by armed conflicts, climate-induced disasters and forced displacement.
On International Women’s Day, let us remind ourselves of the power of education. We have all benefited from an education that less than a century ago was not a given for a girl and which still remains a distant utopia for millions of young girls.
Today with heavy hearts we mark 365 days of a brutal against Ukraine.
Through this illegal act of aggression, over 450 children have been killed and another 900 injured. The shelling and bombing has damaged 3,000 educational institutions, and completely destroyed 420 schools and learning centers. As many as 5.7 million children have had their education disrupted, with no end in sight.
“Is it a sin to be a girl? We don’t want to be at home and illiterate. We want to go to school, study and be intelligent.”
In just a few words, this plea for education from a young Afghan girl
has captured the world’s attention. Her heartbreaking question shows how the Taliban’s recent ban on girls attending secondary school and university – effectively ending education opportunities for all Afghan girls and women – is not only violating their fundamental human right to education but shattering countless hopes and dreams in an instant. [related_articles]