The first International Day of Education was celebrated on January 24, 2019 highlighting the role of education for peace and development. It emphasised the importance of inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, with the UN recognising that countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.
The 2019 #EducationDay was groundbreaking not only for the world but also for Nigeria who pushed for the adoption of the resolution at the UN General Assembly with support from 58 other member states. The adoption is indeed fundamental for developmental thinking towards achieving education for sustainable development. However, beyond a day’s celebration, there is an urgency to walk the talk in a world where the education of 75 million children and youth, is still affected by the protracted crisis and 262 million children and youth are reported to be out-of-school. With a focus on inclusion and empowerment, now is the time more than ever, to strengthen investment in innovative strategies necessary to meet the educational needs of children in school and those at risk of being left behind.
While the International Day of Education may be a global agenda, it was an opportunity for us at OneAfricanChld Foundation for Creative Learning to meet with young leaders in the classroom who are most impacted by the actions of education leaders in their quest to create a more peaceful, inclusive and sustainable world. At the same time world leaders met at the UN to celebrate #EducationDay, the organisation gathered a group of students to discuss ways to remodel their education experience through an open discussion.
Joshua, a Junior Secondary School student of Standard High Mark College, Lagos had this to say, “I would like to advice the Ministry of Education to try and equip the schools and make sure every child has a school to be, in every state or community. I will also like it if everyone in Nigeria is educated, because there’s a saying that, if education is expensive, try ignorance.”
The impact of the consultative meeting was tremendous as students agreed that the awareness made through #EducationDay made them value the importance of education,
In an interview with another student, he likened the right-to-education to the right to life, stating that “Today is a great day which the countries have made, I enjoyed it and it was educating. It helps people to know that education is the best and anyone without education is similar to someone without life because education is life.”
Besides engaging in interactive discussions on the value of education, students raised issues on the loopholes of the current education system, ranging from upgrading school facilities to investment in quality teachers, recognising learning differences and providing conducive learning environments. They urged the government to invest in free education so as to bring more children from poor backgrounds into the classroom. It was interesting to hear the emphasis on teachers’ development as one student urged the government to increase the salaries of teachers in order to avoid suspension of school activities.
Giving students the opportunity to have a say in their education is a participatory approach to include their voices in redesigning the future of education. OneAfricanChild Foundation is glad to have created the platform for a progressive discussion.