UNESCO’s exclusive focus on Inclusive Education

New Delhi: Today, UNESCO celebrated the International Day of Education in partnership with the World Vision India, at the UNESCO House in New Delhi.

The event kick started with the inauguration of a marketplace of projects and products of various institutions in the education sector; talks by key dignitaries from civil society organizations, national government agencies, and multi-lateral organizations, and a panel discussion on the importance of this day. The celebrations also included the observance of National Girl Child Day and the World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture as they are celebrated on the same day, 24 January. These commemorations are significant as they embody the core values of UNESCO’s mandate in promoting peace, cultural diversity and sustainable development.

The marketplace took center-stage of the celebrations where organizations like UNICEF, PRAYAS, Amar Jyoti Trust, Miranda House, Pratham Education Foundation and Next Education displayed their flagship projects and products. Inaugurated by Eric Falt, UNESCO New Delhi Director, Yasmin Haque, UNICEF Representative in India; Cherian Thomas, CEO & National Director, World Vision India and Abdoul Wahab Haidara, Ambassador of Senegal and it quickly turned into a hub that facilitated opportunities of collaborations among the partners.

Cherian Thomas, CEO and National Director, World Vision India/ Regional Leader, South Asia and Pacific, World Vision International said, “We believe that education is an enabling right and all children should have access to quality education. Through our programs, we ensure collective efforts are taken to improve the quality of education in our intervention areas.”

Poet and storyteller, Priya Malik highlighted the need of equity in quality education, making it accessible to all, and bridging the disparities that is seen often in public and private education systems of the country.

Representatives from National Institute of Educational Panning and Administration (NIEPA), NITI Aayog, Language and Learning Foundation, and the International Chamber for Service Industry (ICSI) led the panel discussion on importance and relevance of International Day of Education. The discussion along with the keynote addresses highlighted the role of education as humanity’s greatest renewable resource and reaffirmed its necessity as a fundamental right and a public good. More so, in the backdrop of a large-scale violation of right to education, where nearly 258 million children and youth around the world are out of school, including nearly 4 million children and youth refugees.

As the specialized United Nations agency for education, UNESCO facilitated the observance of the International Day of Education in 2020 with the theme ‘Learning for people, planet, prosperity and peace’ which highlights the centrality of education to our collective development ambitions. This year, UNESCO New Delhi has chosen to additionally emphasis on ‘Inclusive Education’ in the occasion of National Girl Child Day in India, to highlight the inequalities faced by the girl child with respect to education, nutrition, legal rights and medical care.

To celebrate the role of education for peace and development, United Nations General Assembly adopted with consensus a resolution proclaiming 24 January as International Day of Education. With this proclamation, UN member states reiterate their commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 4, which advocates for inclusive, equitable and quality education for all.

The World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture comes into significance as it celebrates the many vibrant cultures of the African continent and African Diasporas around the world, and promotes them as an effective lever for sustainable development, dialogue and peace. The date coincides with the adoption of the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance in 2006 by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. As a rich source of the world’s shared heritage, promoting African and Afrodescendant culture is crucial for the development of the continent, and for humanity as a whole.

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