The role of education as an indispensable part of the planning and policy matrix for social and economic development. If we are to eradicate poverty
and hunger, improve health, protect our planet and build more inclusive, resilient and peaceful societies, then every individual must be empowered with access to quality lifelong learning, with special attention to opportunities for girls and women. The evidence is unequivocal: education saves lives and transforms lives. It is one of the essential resources that need to be exploited if a country, particularly a developing country,
is to achieve its maximum potential and be positioned to compete in an increasingly global economy.
The last decade has seen the number of children out of primary school fall almost by half, from 107 million to 57 million. For instance, Indonesia, Laos, Rwanda and Vietnam have cut their out-of-school numbers by 84 per cent, while India has reduced its out-of-school population by 4.5 million.
However, more than 60 million of the world’s children, over half of them girls, are still not enrolled in either primary or secondary education. In the Commonwealth, as many
as 23.3 million of the primary cohort are not in school, two-thirds of them girls. Of the 775 million non-literate adults across the world, 460 million live in Commonwealth countries, two-thirds of them women.
To tackle the challenges in education provision there must be a global mobilisation that brings about the kind of leap forward in education that we saw in health just over a decade ago.
The new Sustainable Development Goals call for inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all. However, access to quality education has, traditionally, been a lottery of birth – all too dependent on an individual’s wealth or proximity to a good school or higher educational institution. Fortunately, the educational divide that many people around the Commonwealth face is being eroded partly due to investment in scholarships and distance learning, enabled by the adoption of new communications platforms including the internet and mobile technology. Commonwealth governments have given special recognition to the importance of both distance learning and scholarships over many decades, a commitment reiterated at the meetings of Commonwealth Education Ministers.
Education is a fundamental right and the basis for progress in every country. Parents need information about health and nutrition if they are to give their children the start in life they deserve. Prosperous countries depend on skilled and educated workers. The challenges of conquering poverty, combatting climate change and achieving truly sustainable development in the coming decades compel us to work together. With partnership, leadership and wise investments in education, we can transform individual lives, national economies and our world.
- Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General
For more information visit thecommonwealth.org and col.org
Did you know?
- In the Commonwealth, as many
as 23.3 million of the primary aged children are not in school.
- More than 60 million of the world’s children, over half of them girls, are still not enrolled in either primary or secondary education.
- More than 30,000 people have benefited from the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, of which nearly 90 per cent have returned to work in their home country.