24 January: International Day of Education

There are still almost 260 million children and young people out of school and 781 million adults are illiterate.

día de la educación
Communication Team

Telefónica

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Why an Education Day

“Education is a human right, a public good and a collective responsibility”. This is how succinct and forceful UNESCO is at the same time when it comes to cataloguing this subject.

The importance of assigning a specific day to education lies in the fact that, according to the organization itself, “without quality, inclusive and equitable education for all and lifelong learning opportunities, countries will not achieve gender equality or break the cycle of poverty that leaves millions of children, youth and adults behind”.

Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines education as a human right, and it is also one of the SDGs (specifically number 4) essential to the success of the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Despite this, at present we still find that 258 million children and young people are out of school, with education (along with health and protection) being precisely the three basic rights that all children should have.

Three times the number of children and young people out of school, 781 million, is the number of illiterate adults in the world, whose “right to education is being violated and is unacceptable,” says UNESCO, according to data from the organization itself.

Of this global total of illiterate adults, it is worth noting another gap, in this case a gender gap: almost two thirds of this figure are women.

Origin of International Education Day

But why is Education Day celebrated on this date?

The origin of this day dates back to December 3, 2018, the date on which the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed January 24 as International Education Day, the first edition of which was celebrated in 2019.

The UN argued the importance of this day in that “education plays a fundamental role in creating sustainable and resilient societies and contributes to the achievement of all the other Sustainable Development Goals”, as we have previously commented.

Likewise, this international organization stressed the importance of “taking measures to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels – preschool, primary, secondary, tertiary and distance education, including technical and vocational training – so that all people can access lifelong learning opportunities that help them acquire the knowledge and skills needed to take advantage of opportunities to participate fully in society and contribute to sustainable development”.

Digital education: why it is so important and what it consists of

Within education, digital education is shown to be the most significant disruption in the last two decades to help bridge the education gap.

Digital education is arguably key to improving or even transforming the learning of the future, an opportunity that cannot be missed for the power and strength of the digital revolution to help the underprivileged.

The review of the necessary competencies required by the new generations passes through a digital vision, where the technological is central. However, an inclusive approach is required for our societies to evolve towards a significant reduction in the educational and, therefore, socioeconomic and cultural gap.

Digital education so that no one is left behind

In 2016, the Telefónica Foundation and the “la Caixa” Foundation launched ProFuturo, a digital education program to reduce the education gap by improving the conditions of millions of children from vulnerable backgrounds on different continents.

Specifically, by 2023, the initiative had helped transform education by providing the resources needed to change the lives of more than 28 million beneficiaries (as well as almost 1.5 million teachers) in more than forty countries.

With regard to the future of education, ProFuturo points out some of the issues that will have a special impact on education in 2024.

Some of them have a strong technological implication, such as the development and relationship of artificial intelligence with education or the huge emergence of digital content and how to address them and get the most out of them without compromising the quality of educational materials.

But always a transformation of schools and teachers as a priority, through continuous training, to make the potential “revolution” of digital technologies in this sector a reality.


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