Education Above All (EAA) Foundation virtually brought together learners, education decision-makers and thought leaders from across the globe to mark the International Day of Education to discuss how education should be rebuilt and reshaped globally following the devastating impact of Covid-19.
With the right to education of nearly 1.6bn learners in over 190 countries impacted by the pandemic, the event, titled “Education, a key to post Covid-19 pandemic recovery: How can we prevent a generational catastrophe?” saw the participation of HE Lolwah AlKhater, Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Maria Victoria Angulo Gonzalez, Minister of National Education of Colombia; Robert Jenkins, Global Chief of Education at Unicef; Dr Mamadou Dian Balde, deputy director, Division of Resilience and Solutions, UNHCR; and Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, managing director at Gavi, in addition to key global figures including Shakira, Unicef Goodwill Ambassador and founder of The Barefoot Foundation, Karen Bryson MBE, British actor and advocate for the rights of women and children.
Ahead of the International Day of Education, EAA launched its #BuildBackEducation campaign under the umbrella of #UniteToProtect, to raise global awareness for the urgent need to build back education, as a central element to the global Covid-19 recovery process.
Covering key areas such as access, safety, financing, education technology and the digital divide, the campaign will run for three months to urge the international community to join efforts to #BuildBackEducation.
Shakira said, “School is a place of safety and of nourishment for children. Even before Covid-19, the world was already in an education crisis. To now truly recover, we must promote accessible, quality, inclusive, and equitable education for all.”
In her keynote speech, al-Khater, noted, “2020 was an exceptional year for the international community, which saw progress impeded. Through the pandemic, almost 90% of students worldwide have been affected by school closures. It also exacerbated the inequalities we have been grappling with throughout the last decades.”
“Our discussion today should outline a new future for education. By exposing the brittle areas of the sector, we must aim to build back resilient education systems. We are here because we know there is no one-size-fits all solution. Together, we must work to secure a prosperous future for all students globally.”
“The pandemic and subsequent disruptions to learning show how important schools are in a very holistic way. We need to remember that schools provide a wide range of services that must cover all children – and that we need to rebuild stronger,” Jenkins, commented.
Bryson called on the international community to instil a sense of resilience, hope and pride to #BuildBackEducation: “For post-Covid recovery, education is a priority. As always, the most marginalised are already deprived of their right to education and are most affected. We must appeal directly to the imaginations of our youth. It can plant the seeds for the thirst for knowledge and growth. It enables a brighter future. It inspires hope.”
The virtual event, that was held as part of the YouthTalkEd series, was concluded with a promise of a list of recommendations for young people across the world, to empower them to pursue education advocacy at a grassroots level.