The word from the bird.

What is the International Day of Education?

21st December 213 mins
By Toucan

What is the International Day of Education?

Let’s educate ourselves together on the International Day of Education! The 24 January was earmarked by the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 to celebrate the role of education for peace and development.

According to UNESCO – that’s short for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – education is a human right, a public good, and a public responsibility. 

It argues that countries will not succeed in gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all. The United Nations also estimates that 258 million children still do not attend school worldwide, while 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic maths. Less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school. 

Education is also a key part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; goal 4 aims to ensure “inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” 

The UK – where, let’s be honest, we take our access to education for granted - the statistics are also stark. In 2019, it was estimated that one in five children leave primary school unable to read or write properly. The greatest demographic affected is white working-class boys; in 2018, 75% were failing to achieve the UK Government’s benchmark at the age of 16.

The next International Education Day will take place after a global learning disruption of an unprecedented scale. The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools and learning institutions to close their doors, and is estimated to have affected the lives of 1.6 billion students in over 190 countries. 

These effects on our children’s education continue to be both felt and discovered. In a recent UK Government report on education recovery in schools, many teachers said there were significant knowledge gaps in Year 7 pupils in specific subjects compared with previous cohorts – most commonly reading, mathematics, writing, science and languages.

This isn’t an issue that is unique to the UK; the UN estimates that 101 million (9%) of children in grades 1-8 fell below minimum reading proficiency levels in 2020. COVID-19 has wiped out 20 years of education gains.

While not all of us look back fondly on our school days, it is one of the most powerful environments where children can learn practical and social skills, find interests and passions that stay with them forever, and of course, learn about the world we live in. We should all be passionate about protecting children’s access to education, and improving it for those who face obstacles in their learning.

The UN will mark the 2022 International Day of Education with a week-long Learning Planet Festival. The event will feature a varied programme of local events and online activities encouraging us all to learn how to take care of ourselves, others and the planet through a culture of hope, collective engagement and sustainability. It is open to passionate learners of any age – so why not check out the incredible programme?

As we slowly recover from the devastation and disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that education gets back on-track to help give children in the UK and around the world the best tools they will need in life. 

Are there education charities I can support?

Yes! On the Toucan app, we have an entire section dedicated to education charities for you to explore. You can set your filters to discover those closest to you, or perhaps you want to support those further afield. 

So why not download the app today, tell us the causes you care about most, and we’ll introduce you to some new charities you might not have come across. The power to be someone’s hero is in your hands.