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What Is International Day of Education, and Why Do We Celebrate It?

Celebrated on January 24 this year, International Day of Education is an occasion to acknowledge the role education plays in peace and development. As an organization committed to uniting our world through global education, we prioritize education as a way to improve outcomes for children around the world. Read on for more information about the current state of Sustainable Development Goal #4, Access to Quality Education, and ways you can spread awareness on this year’s International Day of Education.

What is International Day of Education?

International Day of Education is an opportunity to educate students and the community about what education looks like for children around the world, and to find ways to advocate for and promote the importance of improving access to a quality education. As educators, we know that a basic education empowers our students, helps them achieve their goals, and sets them up for a lifetime of success. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4, Access to Quality Education, aims to ensure access to inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.

COVID-19’s impact on quality education

This year’s focus and theme, Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation, puts an emphasis on the way the pandemic has adversely affected learning outcomes for students worldwide. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has caused significant setbacks for reaching SDG #4 by 2030. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Report of 2020, it is estimated that school closures kept an estimated 90 percent of all students worldwide out of school, reversing years of progress on education. While distance learning options are provided in four out of five countries with school closures, remote learning remains out of reach for more than 500 million students worldwide. Here in the United States, the pandemic has illuminated the disparities that already exist between students who have access to computers and the internet at home, and those who don’t.

Using knowledge to spread awareness

Knowing this, what can we do to reverse this trend and continue prioritizing SDG #4 as a key to other Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG #1, No Poverty, and SDG #5, Gender Equality? We believe it begins with creating greater awareness and harnessing our collective efforts to make an impact on the world around us. In the classroom, use International Day of Education to help students of all ages understand what barriers exist for students like them around the world to access quality education. You may wish to celebrate the importance of this day by providing an introduction to education around the world through the resource materials available to educators on the SDG website.

If your students have a strong foundation in the SDGs already, consider facilitating a global read-aloud with your grade level team with a focus on books that shed light on education experiences around the world. Themed read-alouds help students imagine a life different from their own and contextualize the information they are learning about the world. You may also consider a service learning project with students that encourages them to collect donations for a book drive. The used books could then be given to an after-school reading program or youth center in your community. In whatever way you choose to celebrate International Day of Education, help students understand the value of a quality education and emphasize the roles they can play to advocate for education as a human right for students both near and far.

Global learning enriches us all by preparing our students to become future leaders who positively impact the world by solving issues together. Partner with us and play a meaningful role in cultivating global citizens who create a more peaceful world. For more of our top resources for teachers, visit this web page.