Education is a vital human right and plays a key role in human, social, and economic development.
Education is a human right
Despite great progress in the last few years, millions of children are still denied their right to education. Restricted access to education is one of the surest ways of transmitting poverty from generation to generation. Education is a vital human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every girl and every boy should have the right to a quality education so that they can have more chances in life, including employment opportunities, better health and also to participate in the political process.
Education reduces poverty, boosts economic growth and increases income. It increases a person's chances of having a healthy life, reduces maternal deaths, and combats diseases such as HIV and AIDS. Education can promote gender equality, reduce child marriage, and promote peace. In sum, education is one of the most important investments a country can make in its people and its future.
Formally adopted at the UN General Assembly in September 2015, the Global Goals for Sustainable Development frame the global development agenda for 2016-2030. The Global Goal 4 on education aims to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all."
In times of conflict and crisis, children are forced out of school, which contributes to higher drop-out rates and lower completion rates. Having a strong focus on education in these countries is critical, since education promotes stability, good governance, and peace. It can also provide a visible sign of a return to normalcy for children.
Great progress has been achieved in enrolling children in school around the world. But it's not enough to get children in school, we also need to ensure that they learn to read, count, and acquire the necessary life skills. A special focus has to be given to the most vulnerable and marginalized groups (including children living in fragile and conflict-affected countries, children with disabilities, and girls) who are most likely to be affected because of a lack of well-trained teachers, inadequate learning materials, and unsuitable education infrastructure.
Good teachers are essential to solving the global learning crisis and closing the gap between poor and good quality education. Therefore, it is vital that all children have teachers that are well-trained, motivated, are able to identify weak learners, and are supported by well-managed education systems.
It costs on average $1.18 a day per child in developing countries (low and lower-middle income) to provide a full cycle of pre-primary through secondary education (13 years). The largest share of this cost, 88%, is borne by the developing countries themselves. The international community should help in filling the funding gap of just 14 cents a day per child.
Educated girls and women tend to be healthier, have fewer children, earn more income and provide better health care for themselves and their future children. These benefits also are transmitted from generation to generation and across communities at large, making girls' education one of the best investments a country can make.
In many countries, a combination of discrimination, social attitudes, poverty, lack of political will, and poor quality of human and material resources leave children with disabilities more vulnerable to being excluded from education. It is essential that societies adapt their education systems to ensure that these children can enjoy their basic human right without discrimination of any kind.
Investing in quality early childhood education brings the highest returns from individuals, societies and countries. Children who have access to quality early childhood programs do better in primary school and will have better education outcomes later. It is vital that low and lower middle-income countries invest more in affordable early childhood programs.