Why is ensuring Quality Education important
Education is seen as an important factor for defeating many social evils. This is due to the ability of education to spread awareness and knowledge which in turn helps develop human society. Education is a key to eradicating poverty by enabling upward socio-economic movement in the society. This movement helps reduce or dissolve inequalities in terms of socio-economic welfare, gender etc and thus takes away conflicts arising from such inequalities, which furthermore leads to a peaceful and prosperous society.
It helps promote and connect different cultures of the world, and reduces race, gender, ethnicity and language based discrimination by ensuring equal opportunities for all. This enables a global connection and understanding, thus leading to a world wide network of peace and cooperation. The completion rate, as per the Sustainable Development Goals Report-2020, for primary school enrollment observed a significant rise from 70% in 2000 to 84% in 2018 with an estimated reach of 89 per cent globally by 2030 based on the current trends.
Additionally, the study highlights the need for infrastructure in schooling facilities, with only 56% of the schools having access to drinking water and 33% of the schools having access to electricity. There are also disparities between rural and urban access to education, as well as a gap in gendered access to education.
Achieving quality education for all not only bridges these gaps, but brings an equitable and inclusive level playing field. To achieve this, the UNDP recognizes equal access to free primary and secondary education as well as affordable vocational training to be vehicles of achieving the target by 2030, ultimately eliminating wealth and gender disparities.
Understanding the root cause of bad education
The lack of completion rate in schools and existing non-proficiency rates reveal the major issues regarding education. The first issue is the lack of accessibility to education in underdeveloped and underprivileged areas. There is also a prevalence of gender disparity in access to education as well as completion rate of primary and secondary education. UNDP observed that one in every for girls in developing countries does not have access to education.
As per Sustainable Development Goals Report-2020, there is another noticeable issue in the quality of education and ease of enrollment, as reflected in the low enrollment rates and high non-proficiency rates. There is also an issue of lack of basic facilities and infrastructure necessary for schooling. The study identifies Sub-saharan Africa to be the most prominent victim lacking basic resources needed for schools, with less than half of the schools in the region lacking facilities such as drinking water, electricity etc. UNDP adds to this data by observing that out of the 57 million primary educated aged children who are not enrolled, half of the number is from Sub-saharan Africa.
The Internet is another facility which is prominent around the globe, especially highlighted in the time of the pandemic. However, the internet and other forms of digital technology, which hold great potential for networking education, are also distributed unequally. The report states that the inequalities will continue to worsen if the disparity between the digitalized and under-connected countries is not bridged.
Changemakers fighting for Quality education
Education is an important vehicle for positive change and sustainable development. It is a harbinger of growth, development, and alleviation of the many global social justice issues faced today. It helps generate skill building and employment opportunities while sensitizing the youth of existing crises.
UN bodies such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have initiatives in place to drive youth towards necessary educational sources, as well as develop them into changemakers working towards the availability of education. Activists such as Malala Yousafzi and Graça Machel are spokesperson for education for girls. Political figures such as Michelle Obama, former first lady of the United States and Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia, are part of government initiatives and councils, Let Girls Learn, and Center for Universal Education respectively. Television show host Trevor Noah also has his own foundation working towards education.
Experts from the education field are also primary activists and changemakers. Andria Zafirakou is a teacher who works towards art education with her initiative Artists in Residence. Yuhyun Park is another educator who works towards digital literacy.
What you can do as a TAL transformer
Recognizing this ability of education to create a chain reaction of positive change, various civil society bodies, government initiatives and policies aim to ensure equal access to education for all.
What you as a transformer for the society can do, is use social advocacy, philanthropy and entrepreneurial/business ideas in an innovative manner to provide a progressive direction for reaching the goal. Instances of which are as follows:
- Vocational training and access to advocacy for students
- Enable an inclusive educational environment
- Rights based approach to create channels of access to education for the poor, as well as mandate enrollment as per right to education
- Financially aid students of socio-economically backward regions to substitute their opportunity cost of work, to improve enrollment.
- Financially aide resources required to develop and build infrastructure necessary to improve quality and reach of education provided
- Provide incentives to boost female enrollment and completion rate
- Build reserves of information and data which act as educational resources, in order to create a widespread e-library of curriculum centered data.
- Innovate methods and methodology for teaching in an application based, internet driven, and up to date way.
- Improve digital literacy through purpose based digital technologies and frameworks
United Nations (2020). The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020. New York: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved from https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2020/
Sustainability Program Manager